I’ve been with VIACOR for ten years now. I am responsible for managing synthetic grass production, and within this time I have visited the FSB trade show in Cologne and experienced all it has to offer on four occasions. Each time I arrived before the show began to help with the set-up of the stand, enjoyed the show itself and stayed until the end to help with the dismantling of the stand.
To be at the trade show from the beginning until the end can be quite exhausting. During this time, there are many encounters and experiences, you get to have a lot of fun with your work colleagues and so much more. But at the end of each show, I always asked myself the same question: Had all this effort and exertion been worth it?
We looked at alternatives – this time we decided not to exhibit at the FSB. Why?
Reflecting over the last few years, there have been some new developments at the FSB in the area of synthetic grass. Traditionally there had always been a large selection of companies offering high-quality thread and grass systems, but now the show was becoming more of a platform for Chinese suppliers to showcase their cheaper solutions. This also applied to indoor and outdoor sports surface products, where competition has intensified with the large number of exhibitors coming from the Far East.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that every supplier seems to be able to supply everything. Reputable manufacturers are fighting to get noticed to avoid being left behind.
So what did we do differently? Participation at the FSB is only made possible with a large financial and staffing outlay, and we once again questioned whether this was the most effective way of having a presence at the show. Why not try a different way and use the time during the FSB to spend with existing customers, make new contacts and give potential new customers the opportunity to get to know VIACOR, their products and the people behind the brand.
So the seed was sown and we decided to offer our partners, customers and potential customers the opportunity to meet with us off-site during the FSB. The marketing team was given its brief and began booking suitable rooms and organising the main evening event. The sales team perfected their presentations and the prototype building department contributed to the overall success of this event with their high-quality samples.
The first day off-site at the FSB was a quiet day for the VIACOR Team. The majority of visitors at the trade show spent the first day getting an overview of everything the show had to offer. Several of our partners visited us to have meetings with us, which helped to improve and strengthen relations.The second day began with a sales meeting of our agents and they each gave a presentation of their history and sales territories.
Our main event began in the afternoon and this consisted of a 2.5-hour presentation from our company about our products and systems in the areas of sport and industry. The meeting room, which could seat up to 60 people, was almost full, which pleased us, and the presentation was well received. Many questions about a wide range of subjects were asked to the people giving the presentations and responded to sometimes in consultation with other members of staff. As we had to keep to our schedule of events for the evening, we weren’t able to respond to all the questions which were asked.
The highlight of the day was the evening event spent at the chocolate museum, which VIACOR had invited all its guests to. More than 60 guests from 20 countries made for a multi-cultural gathering, which was enhanced by live music, good food and interesting conversations spanning continents and countries, and the whole day proved to be a great success.
For me personally, the most pleasing aspect was to see how large our “international family” had become and the warm relationships which had been formed over many years during trade shows.
„Off-site at the FSB“ – was it successful? A first!
The VIACOR team found this way of being present at a trade show more focussed than the traditional exhibiting with a stand, as there was more of an emphasis on building relationships with partners and existing and potential customers.
For our partners, we organised an interesting day and a great evening event, and once again the VIACOR team showed that they are available for their customers anywhere in the world.
We are sure that there are aspects which could have been done even better, but we were really pleased with our first attempt at doing something off-site from the exhibition itself. New paths can be risky but can also open up new experiences and possibilities for reaching our goals.
I think that 2019 will also be “Next to FSB” for VIACOR – here’s to more success.