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Winter shows just around the corner

My copy of the latest edition of Boat Show Exhibitor magazine arrived this week. It reminds me that the last in-water boat show of the fall season will drop anchor in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dec. 1-4. But, exactly one month later, the industry’s big winter indoor show circuit will kick-off in New York on Jan. 4-8. So, it’s not too soon to be planning your participation in the coming winter show(s) in your market.

First, if you’re not receiving Boat Show Exhibitor, it’s free and I urge you to go to www.boatshowexhibitor.com/subscribe.aspx and sign up. If you want to see previous issues just go to www.boatshowexhibitor.com.

The winter issue has some excellent articles including Evan Peterson’s look at building awareness of your boat show exhibit by using social media. For example, he offers reasons and tips for a successful YouTube-savvy strategy. He also discusses the lingo of Twitter – TweetDeck and Hootsuite, for example. Yeah, I had no idea what they meant, either!

Other articles include “The Easiest Up-Sell,” by Matt Alderton that explores “two-foot-it is,” or advice in Brian Todd’s “Persistence Pays Off” is all about tapping into a segment of the market overlooked by your competitor - long term boat show prospects, plus many more articles.

Seeing the magazine also reminds me that, in the past, I have advocated that dealers display in their local shows. I still do, perhaps now more than ever! Shows meet a variety of needs for all dealers that cannot be duplicated by any other promotional medium. Perhaps it helpful to look at 10 reasons to exhibit in your upcoming boat show:

1. Cater to existing customers – they’ll likely be at the show.
2. Prospect for new customers – it’s needed fuel for the sales team.
3. In both cases above, it’s face-to-face contact – nothing’s stronger!
4. Introduce new products – a prime reason boaters attend shows.
5. Relate to competitors – see what your customers and prospects are seeing.
6. Reach audience pre-qualified by interest – they paid to get in to see you.
7. Make more contacts in a short time – up to 19 times more than in a store.
8. Enhance dealership image – you control the impression prospects get of you.
9. Receive customer/prospects input about your brands, products and service.
10. Make immediate sales! – never forget people still buy at boat shows!

Generally, since 2008, our boat shows have reflected the downsizing of our industry (dealers and builders out of business) as well as decreased consumer demand for our products. But there’s no denying this truth: Hundreds of thousands of boaters and wanna-be’s have still been attending our shows across the nation and dealers in those shows have benefitted. Moreover, to date, we have not found any other way to successfully put our products where large numbers of prospective buyers can touch them, standing face-to-face with our sales people, in a single location, at a definite date and time. Until we do, boat shows should rule in our marketing plans.

If you haven’t reserved space in your next winter show, it’s time.

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