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Show-stoppers: indoor farm shows add activities to give exhibitors more exposure to attendees.

To help exhibitors interact one on one with attendees, indoor farm shows are offering a wealth of new and tried-and-true sponsorship, marketing and other opportunities for exhibitors.

For instance, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show last year began giving its exhibitors marketing kits with tips for getting the most out of the show. "We also set up a special area on the trade show floor for companies to hold press conferences or demonstrations," says Kristin Torres, manager of trade show and association marketing for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Below, Torres and managers of three other indoor trade shows report what they are doing to help exhibitors increase their visibility with attendees.


In the dead of winter last year more than 5,200 pork producers from across Iowa and surrounding states gathered in Des Moines for the annual Iowa Pork Congress (IPC). The two-day indoor farm show took place at the end of January at a new venue--HyVee Hall at the Iowa Events Center.

"The brand-new facility worked very well for us," says Jen Holtkamp, communications director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, which has presented the event for 33 years. "We were able to provide better services to exhibitors, such as improved wireless Internet access."

Holtkamp says that in addition to buying booth space, exhibitors have a variety of ways to market themselves at the show, including purchasing space in the IPC program as well as sponsoring the show or just an event or program such as the trade show dining area, annual meeting luncheon and receptions.

What's more, trade show sponsors get logo recognition on all promotional print items, including magazine ads, the trade show program and other print media.

Holtkamp notes that exhibitors can host seminars to promote their products or services. "These complement our educational seminars and are a big draw," she says.

She adds that companies often will invite their VIP clients and the farm media to a seminar if they are launching a new product or service or want to walk producers through an important issue such as antibiotic usage.

Holtkamp says the Iowa Pork Congress is marketed in a variety of ways to gain maximum exposure for exhibitors. For instance, a month before the Congress, the 56-page trade show program is mailed with the Iowa Pork Producer magazine to 26,000 pork producers. "It includes a list of exhibitors, seminars and other important information," she notes. "Jumbo postcard reminders, e-mails to producers, farm radio and print ads also are used to draw producers to the Congress."


By day almost 300,000 people attend exhibits and seminars at the four-day National Farm Machinery Show (NFMS) in Louisville each February. At night the show kicks into high gear for the Championship Tractor Pull.

"While the tractor pull is a major draw and sells out nightly, attendees return year after year to gain hands-on access to the newest and most innovative products on the market today," says Harold Workman, president and CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board, which owns and produces NFMS. "Visitors can see everything from irrigation and harvesting equipment to seeds and fertilizers to outdoor power equipment to computer software."

Workman points out that nearly 800 exhibitors annually fill more than I million square feet of indoor exhibit space at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. "The NFMS is the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the country, drawing national and international attendees and exhibitors," he says. "It's the place to get up close and personal with the newest innovations and products in the business."

Another appeal for attendees is free seminars featuring some of the industry's top experts. "These seminars are offered by Farm Journal Media and present leading agronomists, economists and other key people in the agribusiness industry," Workman says. "The sessions complement the show and are an added benefit for attendees."

Exhibitors have several opportunities to promote themselves at the show. First, they are listed in the free show guides that are distributed at the event. Workman notes that exhibitors also are listed on the farm show's Web site, which receives more than 500,000 visitors yearly.

Some exhibitors host a product rollout during the show to highlight their newest offering. "We work with the exhibitor to provide the best place for the rollout and assist them with media coverage," Workman says.


About 5,000-plus cattle producers and leaders from the cattle industry will converge on cattle country in February 2006, as Denver hosts the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show.

The trade show takes place in conjunction with the cattle industry's annual convention on a five-city rotation: Denver, Nashville, Reno, Phoenix and San Antonio. "It's a plus to hold the convention and trade show at the same time," says Kristin Torres, manager of trade show and association marketing for NCBA. "It's the one time during the year producers and suppliers get together to discuss association business and the cattle industry."

Also taking place at the event are Issues Forums focusing on topics such as beef safety and international trade and committee meetings, which attract attendees as well as exhibitors.

Torres points out that there is plenty of time for attendees to take part in the trade show, which typically has 300 exhibitors. "We have exclusive trade show hours on the first evening when no other events take place," she explains. "During each of the other two days there are three hours when nothing else is going on."

Companies have several sponsorship opportunities, including the welcome reception at the trade show, coffee breaks, the Issues Forum and the opening general session, Tortes notes.

Another way to gain exposure is through a new program NCBA will be testing at the 2006 show. "Exhibitors can sign up and pay a small fee to have a sales presentation or educational seminar in a special area on the trade show floor," Torres reports.

The NCBA promotes exhibitors by listing them in an online show guide featuring a 50-word description, logo and a link to the company's Web site. "Prior to the show we also polybag the show guide in our National Cattlemen publication, which is sent to NCBA members across the nation and others in the region where the show will take place," Torres says.


This October more than 65,000 producers and others involved in the dairy industry will gather in Madison, Wis., at World Dairy Expo to celebrate in the "Art of Dairy"--the show's theme this year.

The annual five-day Expo attracts attendees from across the United States as well as from about 80 other countries. "It's the perfect place for the 675-plus exhibitors to showcase the latest dairy equipment and cutting-edge technology," says Tom McKittrick, general manager of World Dairy Expo Inc.

In addition to the exhibits, Expo features free education seminars on dairy management and other industry issues. "These sessions offer technical expertise to help producers be more knowledgeable, competitive and profitable," McKittrick explains.

He adds that while the seminars are planned and selected by a committee, they are corporately sponsored, and sponsors are allowed input on speaker selection.

Expo also offers a farm tour program featuring virtual presentations given by dairy producers about their operations. "We used to take participants out to farms for tours, but it was a major time commitment for them," McKittrick says. "So now the owner or general manager of an operation comes to the show and puts on a PowerPoint or video tour of a farm. It takes just an hour and keeps people at the show."

World Dairy Expo offers several items to help companies promote their participation in the show. McKittrick points out that the material, which features the show logo each year, includes brochures with a blank space for imprinting, daily schedules, posters, stickers and postcards.

Exhibitors also can advertise in the official Expo program, which will mail in the August issue of Dairy Today to almost 50,000 dairy producers and will be handed out at Expo, according to McKittrick.

He notes that exhibitors should plan ahead if they want to rent space at the show to hold meetings, press conferences, dealer meetings or focus groups. "These can take place during exhibit hours or in the evening, but space is limited," McKittrick says.

Debbie Coakley is a freelance writer based in Warrenville, Ill.
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Author:Coakley, Debbie
Publication:Agri Marketing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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