Historically, the summer and fall outdoor farm shows have been relied upon to generate interest and leads for manufacturers and farm equipment dealerships near the prospects. Farm Equipment asked dealers the following 3 questions:
- What impact, if any, do you expect the lack of your manufacturers’ presence at farm shows this year could have on your 2021 sales?
- How are your equipment suppliers responding? Have they redeployed their planned-for show investments in other ways to assist in your lead-generation and sales efforts?
- What changes is your own dealership’s marketing team now considering to keep your own lead funnel active?
“Major shows, historically, are a showcase for new products and innovations. They also provide opportunity to get in front of a large number of customers and prospects. These shows help to drive leads and interest/excitement. Without these shows, our sales team and marketing efforts will be more important than ever. I’m unsure on how the suppliers are responding. Predicting what gatherings will be allowed, and prudent, has been a moving target.
“Changing to non-traditional methods of reaching customers requires different skills and tools. Our company is redeploying strategies that can be used under current conditions. Increased use of social and traditional marketing channels to generate leads. Smaller events with limited participant counts are planned. Leads are more important now than ever. Interestingly, the quality of leads seems to be higher than normal. We are tracking lead assignments as we have not before.”
— Paul Cave, Redline Equipment, Archbold, Ohio
“Canada reacted quickly to COVID-19, and we had 5 shows cancelled in March-April. We have noticed very little change in sales, in fact our overall sales are up 2% as of June 30, 2020. We have had very little supplier support to maintain our sales efforts. We really haven’t had to ask our suppliers for assistance beyond the normal. We have increased our online presence via Facebook, YouTube, etc., and telephone as well as virtual displays and demos.
“What we have noticed is a tremendous surge in profitability. The 5 spring shows and now 3 fall shows that we would have paid ‘lot’ space on, plus the related expenses of accommodation, transport machines to and from, have resulted in a drastically reduced expense budget plus improved cashflow.
“Our thinking may change subject to what happens over the balance of 2020, but at present we are proposing to cut back substantially on 2021 shows and perhaps eliminate some completely in favor of increased online promotional and virtual demonstrations, as the latest edition of Shortliner [the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Assn. newsletter] states, a virtual show or demo is there 24/7 for viewers to watch at any time and not subject to weather, harvest conditions and travel expenses that can hold back potential attendees.
“One thing I will mention is farm show organizers have been very co-operative, we have received full refunds of space rentals paid in advance except for one show that is refusing a refund and holding our funds for 2021.”
— Name withheld by request
“We don’t think it will have any measurable impact. We have not seen our suppliers do anything on the customer level to roll out new equipment at this point. I would guess out of season we will see some offerings that have not been announced yet. We are doing YouTube reviews and tutorials on equipment that have helped our customers get exposure to product. This has worked so well that I am sure it will become the standard in a post-COVID-19 world.”
— Fred Titensor, Valley Implement, Preston, N.D.
“I don’t see there being a huge impact. People are tending to avoid the large gatherings and I see attendance being a hurdle. We have seen steady growth in online/email shopping from people who want to remain distant. Honest truth, we are not seeing any additional assistance from manufactures to offset the show. They are struggling big time getting equipment out the door and getting our lots full. Many of us are sitting on a quarter of our typical inventory with no sign of a change soon. We are shifting to a ‘look at this’ marketing approach. Offering people what we have specifically, rather than a general marketing option. It has been tough telling people we don’t have what they want and there is no definite lead time or ETA.”
— Darrell Morgan, Bentley Bros. Inc, Brockport, N.Y.
“To be honest we don’t ever equate sales with a particular farm show. For our area, Tulare is the biggie, but the lack of a show won’t impact our sales in our opinion. As for our pipeline, we will fill it as we always have — by calling on our customers and keeping in front of them.”
— Rob Rosztoczy, Stotz Equipment, Avondale, Ariz.
“Due to our location in southern Indiana, the farm shows this fall being canceled should not have an effect on sales for our store in Sellersburg, Ind. If the pandemic goes into 2021 and the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville is cancelled, we may see very small decrease in interest.
“These are new times and to be competitive you have to change with the times. Those who make those changes should be successful whether there is a farm show or not. I am low on the totem pole and I am sure our main supplier will divert the marketing dollars to other avenues to attract the customers that need to be targeted. Marketing is working overtime to come up with new ideas to promote the product. Our marketing team has been adding more social media ideas and trying new ways of advertising that way. We’re also sending more direct emails trying to get info to the right customer to meet their needs.”
— Walter Green, Wright Implement, Sellersburg, Ind.
“I am not expecting much impact from the lack of manufacturers at farm show this fall. Customers have access to the internet to find any information they are looking for on 2021 equipment. Customers seem interested in new equipment even though we are in the middle of a pandemic. New Holland is having a farm show on the internet via an app. If you download app, you can watch video and testimony plus scan QR code you can get free gifts. I like the idea. I think it will help customer stay interested in equipment plus spread the New Holland message. We are increasing our search engine management spend on compact and utility equipment. We see opportunely in driving customer to our website to shop for used and new equipment. We are finding customers are spend more time online, so increasing our advertising dollar in this area is most effective. We have been working with CNH to improving CNH parts experience online.”
— Bryndon Meinhardt, KanEquip, Wamego, Kan.
“Personally, I feel the lack of farm shows are going to have a lot of impact in today’s environment. In the past, farmers attended to see the latest and greatest offerings, but with everything being much more visual and virtual I’m not sure if attendance will every return. Unfortunately, our supplier seems to be slow to respond to current marketing strategies and not sure where they are budgeting. To keep the lead funnel full, we may look at a more active CRM, phone access and tracking system.”
— Denny O’Bryan, Alta Implement, Alta, Iowa
“We had our show in Oklahoma in June rather than April. It was lightly attended by both vendors and attendees. It was actually a great show for us as we made more sales than we typically do and were able to spend more time with potential customers who were serious about buying. The way I described it was the quantity of the attendees was poor but the quality was excellent. To answer your questions, Kubota never attended or invested in the OK Farm Show so no change there. The internet has gradually become more a part of our marketing efforts over the years, but it has skyrocketed in importance since COVID.”
— Bill Clark, Great Plains Kubota, Ada, Okla.