For the first time in nearly three decades, BendPak Inc., one of the industry’s largest automotive service equipment providers, will not exhibit at SEMA / AAPEX.
“Like many businesses, we’re watching every dollar we spend, and that means reevaluating strategies,” said Jeff Kritzer, senior vice president of BendPak sales and marketing. “There’s more cost-effective ways to reach our customers than ever before. Between social media, virtual meetings, and even traditional television sponsorships and print media, trade shows no longer hold the lead generation crown that they once did,” said Kritzer.
BendPak judges their Return on Event using weighted criteria such as lead generation, attendance, location, competitor presence, previous attendance, additional incentives, booth location, and cost to attend.
“We’ve been reviewing our marketing activities and expenditures for the past couple years,” said Don Henthorn, company President. “Numbers don’t lie. We’re having trouble justifying the cost of exhibiting at the Las Vegas Aftermarket Week. The costs are also high for those who attend the shows which is sure to reduce foot traffic. Tradition isn’t a good enough reason anymore.”
“We’ve observed a marked slowdown in trade show traffic across the board each year since 2000,” said Craig Eadie, BendPak’s controller. “Trade shows once played an important role in driving our company’s growth, mostly because it was the only place a manufacturer could show off its products and get to know its customer base. But now, savvy consumers can find our product information and demonstrations online. Instead of reacting to the new reality by lowering costs, many trade show organizers and contractors are holding firm on their exorbitant prices. That’s bad business, and the investment on our end no longer stands up to scrutiny,” said Eadie.
Still, BendPak executives have not ruled out exhibiting at future SEMA and AAPEX events and admit that technology cannot completely replace the touch-and-feel experience that show-goers get when standing in a booth. “We love the experience of SEMA / AAPEX and hope something will change by this time next year. Until then, we’re investing in new product development and other web-based marketing ventures,” said Kritzer.