A big job perk for many people is traveling to various industry events, be it for further education, networking, or business marketing. Within the agriculture community we are fortunate to have many festivities encompassing all three, and then some. The farm show experience is a primordial example of such “on the job” perks.
We’ve talked before about tips for making the most of farm shows as an attendee. Here, we flip the tables and delve into what it’s like when you’re the one working a booth and helping create the environment. Sure, the days can be long and the stress levels high, but there are few better ways to connect with your customers and get a real feel for what’s going on in your industry.
One of these such events occurs for three days each September in London, Ohio, bringing together a showcase featuring hundreds of educators, businesses, vendors and several million dollars-worth of equipment. The Farm Science Review is an event put on by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Science held at the school’s 2,100-acre Molly Caren Agricultural Center. Nickolas Zachrich, event manager, shared his thoughts on the impact good vendors have at such a scene.
“Producers are here looking for ways to make their lives easier and improve profits,” he said. “Whether a company has a brand-new service or machine or is producing a product that has been on the market for a while, there are visitors coming to Farm Science Review that can improve their business with these products.”
And making the most of your time at events like Farm Science Review all come down to how you prepare, interact with customers, and showcase your business. Here are some ideas for the next time you’re the one behind a table:
Prepare ahead of time. Organization and preparation start well before you ever walk through the front gate. Lots of farm show events have online resources available and are happy to help promote your business as much as possible. You want to provide all the information you can upfront. This transparency will help customers-and potential customers-know when and where to find you!
“Inviting your current customer base is a great way to showcase. Success will lead to more success. Advertising to the client base before the show can provide extra impressions for both current and prospective customers,” Zachrich said.
And of course, don’t forget to dot your I’s and cross your T’s down to the small incidentals. You’ll want to bring plenty of literature, business cards, informational packets, and freebies to get you through however many days. Check your displays beforehand and make sure things are looking crisp and showroom floor ready.
Make the connections. It goes without saying that to sell your products you need to know who your customers are. But do you know how to implement that in the field? Education along with value-added products and services are huge parts of why people come to farm shows. This not only applies to the passersby, it could be your neighbor vendors.
“We witness a lot of business-to-business transactions happening as a result of attending which include exhibitors connecting with other exhibitors or exhibitors are meeting visitors that work for agricultural service companies, local governments, or buying cooperatives,” Zachrich explained. “Manufacturers and large companies have a great opportunity at large farm trade shows like Farm Science Review because they not only can market their products to be sold but also find new dealers or distributors for their products and services.”
Stay focused. “The business world is extremely connected with internet and mobile devices. It can be easy to get distracted from the environment of a show when emails and phone calls are coming in. Visitors to events like Farm Science Review have attended for a purpose and it may be to connect with a specific company,” Zachrich said. “If company representatives are not engaged in the show, they will be missing valuable customers that have a need for their products.”
If you’re disengaged with your surroundings, its very obvious. Besides maintaining a professional image, you may miss the opportunity to interact with a curious visitor glancing over your displays.
Bring value. Have you ever thought about why you’re at an event? Not in terms of your company’s benefit, but for those in attendance. Zachrich elaborated, “Being a department of a university, our ideal company exhibiting at Farm Science Review will not just sell but also educate. Most products and services are not useful to every visitor to Farm Science Review so attracting and selling to the right customer that has a need improves satisfaction for both the company and also reflects well on our event. The companies that excel the most need a combination of traits which starts with a great product or service. Great customer service and engagement is also critical for continued success. A great, attractive display or equipment will draw the right prospective customer, but a polite and eager-to-help attitude from a sales rep will provide the opportunity to discuss the benefits of the product.”
Follow up! Your work doesn’t end when you begin to pack up after a long week. “In many cases, the number of leads to follow up with after a show is impacted by the preparation before the show. A simple ‘thank you’ for visiting your booth and for coming to Farm Science Review can be a positive, lasting impression,” Zachrich observed.
Jaclyn Krymowski is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a major in animal industries and minor in agriculture communications. She is an enthusiastic agvocate, professional freelance writer, and blogs at the-herdbook.com.