Working on the 2018 Scuba & H2O Adventure Show last month helped me realize what is important to diving businesses that are interested in marketing their programs, products and services in the United States. I’ve been asked to manage the Scuba & H2O Adventure Show in Tacoma, WA that is scheduled for April 20-22, 2018. The first thing my team did was start work on a Business Plan. The plan includes all the things we need to do to make the show successful. Important questions like, “Why are we doing a show?, Who are we doing the show for?, What needs to be done? and When do things need to be complete?” all had to be answered. I personally learned a lot when I started writing down all the components of the event that needed to be addressed and formulating a timeline for the completion of each and every task within each component. The components we are addressing are Attendees, Speakers, Exhibitors, Sponsors, Advertisers, Volunteers, Vendors, Staff and Show Management.
In the first month of our project, we focused on the duties and responsibilities of the show management, followed by working on venue details with our vendors. In the following 2 months we sold 1/3 of our total booth space to a great group of 2018 exhibitors. This month we hope to complete the workshops and seminars component of the show. With a solid educational and entertaining program presented by world-class industry experts, combined with an exhibit hall filled with the best diving equipment, training and travel companies in the industry, at an excellent venue location, we can spend months focusing on marketing and advertising our event to the divers of the Pacific Northwest. The amount of advertising that can be done on any event is usually dependent upon the quantity and quality of sponsors a show can attract. Sponsors and advertisers normally look at the quality of the event that has been put together first and then the potential the region has for attracting attendees. With investing, we say that “Past performance does not guarantee future success.” It’s the same thing with dive shows. It’s not how many exhibitors or attendees a show had last year, or in the past three years for that matter. What is important to next year’s success is the size of the potential a Pacific Northwest venue has to attract divers and industry professionals to the event.
To determine the economic potential of the Pacific Northwest diving community, we have to look at the number of Dive Stores, Dive Boats, Dive Clubs, Dive Resorts and Dive Instructors in that region. We also have to define the number of Divers in the area and the number of individuals interested in learning how to dive. Knowing the size of the local diving community, we can determine what the economic potential of the area is.
That brings me to the second myth I’d like to shatter. A dive company should never put all of their marketing budget into only one or two of the largest regional dive shows in the country. First of all, not every exhibitor has done an economic potential analysis on every region in the country. You shouldn’t blindly exhibit at a show just because other companies are doing it. Do your own homework. Secondly, many exhibitors are local to a specific show and they always exhibit there because they are local. Thirdly, your marketing show budget should be spread out, percentage wise, depending on your potential to compete in each regional market. It should be based on the number of current clients you have in that region and the economic potential of that area that may lead to growth for your company.
Face-to-face events like regional dive shows are important to our industry in that they build and strengthen local dive communities. Every business that has a vested interest in a particular region should participate in proportion to the number of their current customers, former customers and future customers in that region. If you only exhibit in one or two regions of the United States, you are not supporting your customer base in the other regions, which will diminish your relationship with them and lead to reduced sales. You also lose the opportunity to gain market share and that hurts your growth potential. Successful marketing campaigns can be conducted in at least six regions of the country with a little bit of planning and coordination with your Regional Sales Managers and your Local Dealers. Finding cost effective ways to build relationships with your Reps and Dealers leads to more sales for your company, your Rep and your Dealers. When local divers don’t see your company or your products at their Regional Dive Show, they quickly forget you. Out of sight – out of mind!
Successful Sales & Marketing Professionals use regional dive shows to their advantage. The venue is set up by an independent show producer, which means that your only job is to invite your customers to the event and prepare a presentation that showcases and sells your products. Your presentation could be entertaining, educational, or social. What’s important is that time spent with your Reps, Dealers and Customers builds relationships that lead to sales and growth. Weekend events like dive shows are cost effective to participate in. There is no other way for you to meet with so many people in so little time. Never underestimate the power of face-to-face marketing.
We’ll see you in Tacoma in April.