Shades and Shoes (and a Marketing Budget)
Every year that we attend the National Hardware Show and the Lancaster Distributor Show, we arrive giddy at the prospect of all the new products and companies awaiting the throngs of people walking the Show. It reminds me a bit of my youth when my sisters and I would awaken early on Christmas morning and rush down stairs to see what “Santa” had left for us under the tree. As soon as we started playing around with the few presents that were not wrapped up—the fire engine, pogo stick or Red Ryder BB Gun—Mom & Dad would stagger down the steps bleary-eyed looking like they had not slept a wink (why could that be?), and then we could start tearing the wrappings off of everything else.
The scenario at NHS and Lancaster is not all that unfamiliar. Exhibitor booths are all “Spic & Span,” set up neatly and efficiently with their products displayed. The people working the booths, who probably have had many long days and nights preparing for these Vegas days, are just as bleary-eyed as Mom & Dad used to be because they have worked tirelessly to pull off their biggest trade show of the year and to ensure they are putting their and their company’s best foot forward and to show off their new or re-branded products and designs. Every exhibitor hopes their products will be the darling of the Show, and if they have something this year at NHS and Lancaster that can help you independents stand tall above your big box competitors, they just might become the darlings they hope to be!
Just about every year, our staff comes home with information on products we believe can be game changers for independents. We meet with many inven-tors at the Show who are in the beginning stages of launching their products. Unfortunately, while many inventors spend their life savings designing, building, and packaging these new, promising tools of the trade, but they forget to build in a marketing budget. Without that, their products are destined to join the ranks of so many great ideas that never make it into the marketplace. (This even happened to the early paint roller!) Note to Inventors: If you are working on bringing a new product to fruition, build and stash away a MARKETING BUDGET, because what good is the greatest painting tool on the planet if nobody ever hears about it?
For retailers in this great paint & sundries business, these shows offer the chance to set your stores apart from your competitors. You have opportunities to buy in bulk, obtain greatly reduced pricing, to get in on “spiffs,” and sit in on outstanding programs by guest speakers detailing the state of our industry, what’s to come, and how we can all get there profitably.
Not attending this year? No worries! Our May issue will focus on the WOW factor items and companies we saw at the shows. Sorry—we won’t be talking about the G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu Grip or the newest Betsy Wetsy dolls, but if we can help you find a new product to replace some haggard dogs on your shelves that are just gathering dust instead of ringing up sales, then you will be all the better for it! The future is so bright for this industry, and it’s Las Vegas, Baby, so definitely bring your shades…and very comfortable shoes!