October 17, 2019

Driving success at this year’s farm shows

By Matt Weeks

Farm shows continue to be important events for producers to connect with both current and prospective suppliers, equipment companies and experts. In today’s increasingly digital age, shows provide the opportunity to network, experience new technologies in real time, and kick some literal tires. Events are also a great way for young farmers to get off the farm, get connected to new business partners and bring the family along for a little quality time. As an agency dedicated to helping clients lead the evolution of agriculture, AdFarm understands the importance of farm shows – and we have the research to back it.

Farm shows continue to have an important place in farmers’ and ranchers’ buying journey and continue to be a significant investment for companies that market to a wide range of producers. Ensuring that every trade show has a positive return on investment is more important than ever.

What are the key pillars to ensure a successful event for exhibitors each and every time? There isn’t one right answer for every company, but there are consistent best practices that are critical no matter the show.

Go big or go home? Not necessarily

Just like equipment is advancing and becoming more sophisticated, trade show displays are pushing the limits as they compete for attention and traffic at shows. But solely having a large presence isn’t the most important factor for having a productive show – not if “productive” means engagement that translates to sales leads.

A significant presence at shows can help attract a large crowd but being smart with the space is far more important. Producers are interested in being able to easily see what is new and valuable to them and, perhaps most importantly, seeing how the products benefit their business. Create a storyline that resonates with farm customers and captures their imagination as they enter your space, so they feel compelled to engage and ask questions. Having well-placed product demos front and center is far more impactful than a big booth that feels empty.  For smaller spaces, working product displays or video demonstrations showing the products in action is a great way to stop traffic and allow farmers to ask a few questions.

Engage before and after the show

Getting a farmer’s attention does not start and end at the farm show. Once you have their interest, you need to keep it. Many companies fail to engage their ideal audience both before and after the show. For many that may mean sending follow-up emails to booth visitors after the show inviting further conversation, but the opportunity extends far beyond that.

For instance, our client New Holland is the leading hay and forage equipment company and we wanted to ensure that they earned continued recognition for their leadership in this category as they engage with a new generation of producers. To achieve both high-level awareness and also create an opportunity for customer engagement, we helped launch one of the largest equipment giveaways in agricultural history. The Great New Holland Hay Tools Giveaway was launched at the 2019 Farm Progress Show because it was a natural fit to launch one of the biggest giveaways in North America at the biggest outdoor trade show. This launch at the Farm Progress Show provided a great platform to not only announce the promotion to producers, but to engage key media partners to drive awareness using multiple channels including digital, social, TV, radio and print. We set a lofty goal for the number of qualified leads for the duration of the campaign, but with some smart and strategic thinking, we achieved nearly 20% of our goal in the first month of a 6-month campaign.

A large part of this success is because of the highly engaged and knowledgeable New Holland staff that is the boots on the ground at each trade show. Ensuring that every team member is fully engaged in the success of the show can mean all the difference between “OK” and “great.” Conducting training with the staff prior to the show is critical so everyone knows their role and they are equipped with everything they need to add value to their company and to visitors.The Great New Holland Hay Tools Giveaway is not only a great way to feature New Holland products but also engage qualified leads before, during and after key trade shows. We coupled that with a nurture strategy to keep producers engaged after each show and to connect with them during key parts of the customer buying journey.

The ultimate way to help you stand out and maximize your trade show investment is with a smart strategy that ensures you have a great ROI for your spend. If you would like to talk more about putting our expertise to work for your next event, contact us.

Matt Weeks is a Strategic Lead at AdFarm. An agronomist by education, Matt is now helping to drive insights for clients through our AgIntel initiative.