One of the few rewards for suffering through a long Chicago winter is that there are a dozen industrial trade shows right in my backyard. If I choose, I can spend my entire summer collecting totebags embroidered with my favorite manufacturer’s logo. Yes, it’s time for manufacturers to decorate their Lucite displays with their latest and greatest widgets to display to the world.
There are a lot of attendees who will be interested in those new products, but that’s not primarily why distributors come to trade shows. They have plenty of opportunity to hear about the latest widgets throughout the year. They come to talk to their manufacturers’ executives about their relationships and how they can be improved… things like pricing, branding, planning, promotions, training, line authorizations, delivery problems, quality issues, support issues, etc. So I pose this question to all manufacturers currently shining-up their wares: Do you really understand your channel partners’ issues and how they perceive you?
This year when you’re planning your booth, bring your latest and greatest widgets; but also come prepared with a detailed understanding of what’s on your distributors’ minds and how to address their concerns. To do that effectively, you need to solicit distributor input in a structured manner before the conference so you can arrive with answers in hand.
Bart Schwartz, President / ICR / 630.503.6093