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[Author: Cindy Feldman, 09.16 | Keyword: Marketing, Farm Shows]

Can you believe it is farm show season again? These shows provide a great opportunity for agri-marketers to connect with huge numbers of customers and ­­­prospects over a three-day span at a single location.

But the time, expense and energy needed to create an impressive and successful farm show presence can be considerable. To maximize the ROI of your farm show investment, consider these four suggestions:

  1. Pre-Show Planning

There is a long list of fall farm shows to attend. Determine which ones best fit your company by thinking about these things: Which locations best fit the geographic footprint of our company? Which shows have the best reputation for drawing the greatest number of qualified ag producers?

Once the shows are determined, set clear marketing objectives for your company’s presence, such as:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Attracting new customers
  • New product introductions
  • Customer appreciation
  • Lead generation
  • New campaign introduction­

Build your pre-show planning around these objectives. Make sure your exhibit display is consistent with your objectives and campaign messaging. If new product sales literature is being developed, confirm it will be available for distribution at the show. Apps or interactive displays need to be tested and ready well before the show opens. Carefully consider what ad specialty items will be handed out, and again, be consistent with your objectives and messaging.

If you decide to sponsor a drawing for a major giveaway, be sure to plan the details, rules and registration items well in advance. If you’re launching a new product or have an important company announcement, consider planning and scheduling a press conference or one-on-one interviews with key editors and media representatives during the show.

Schedule enough people to work the show and clearly communicate responsibilities and expectations for all involved. Explain your show objectives and how the company will interact with show attendees.

Maximize your return by promoting your presence at the upcoming farm show in all company communications – email, website, social media and the company blog. Mail invitations to key customers and prospects to visit your exhibit at the show.

Also, since you already have the time and travel expense of sending company staff to the show, consider the cost-efficiency of sponsoring an off-site seminar or appreciation reception for key customers and targeted prospects who will be at the show. It’s just another way to get more out of the dollars spent on your farm show investment.

  1. At the Show

When you thoroughly plan prior to the show, working the show itself becomes the fun part of exhibiting. (Plan the work—work the plan!)

Here are a few last minute reminders:

  1. Look sharp, with all staff sporting appropriate company wear.
  2. Be engaged, no sitting at the back of the booth, and leave emails and phone calls for time assigned away from the display. (This is critical!)
  3. Carefully collect and manage all registrations and make note of sales conversations that have a high degree of interest or urgency.

Employ social media during the show by posting interesting and relevant comments, photos and videos via Facebook and Twitter to encourage your followers to seek you out at the show. (Use your booth number in your post so attendees can find you!)

  1. After the Show

After the show, send an email thank-you note to all who registered at your exhibit. Include the name of the sales rep or service rep servicing their geographic area and be sure that rep or dealer is aware of the lead for local follow-up.

If you sponsored a major prize drawing, announce the winner(s) via email, website, company blog and social media. Distribute a press release and a photo of the winner to local media outlets.

Finally, meet with your employees to evaluate the farm show investment. What worked? What didn’t? What could have improved your presence? What should be done differently next year?

More importantly, carefully evaluate the numbers. Was the investment in time, expense and staff energy worth the return? Were the objectives established at the onset accomplished? Could these dollars have been spent in another way to generate a greater return?

  1. Free Advice

Farm shows have a long and rich history in agriculture. There’s probably no better way to personally connect with so many farmers in such a short time span.

After attending a number of shows while working for the Association, I do have a few small pieces of free advice: be well rested, wear comfortable shoes, check the show website for admission discounts and bring plenty of business cards.

See you at the shows!

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About the Author

Cindy Feldman

For over three years, Cindy has managed marketing and communication efforts for the Association and Power Farming Shows through print, electronic and social media. Outside of work, Cindy can be found traveling, gardening, hunting for cool vintage finds, running, biking and hanging out with her dog, Jack.