This is the second of a two-part series. The first focused on retailers, with this one focusing on manufacturers. Read the first part, published last week, here.
I have been asked this quite a few times and I think it’s a great question.
COVID created unprecedented demand. Let’s face it, there was no ATA Show in 2021, and for most manufacturers, that was the best year they have ever had.
Some manufacturers spend more than $200,000 attending the show, and what is not to love about record sales combined with a huge reduction in expenses? But that was then, and this is now. The days of selling whatever you could produce are in our rearview mirror, and manufacturers are back to the battle for market share.
The ATA Show is a great time to connect with new retailers and nurture your existing relationships. Photo Credit: ATA
This is a common reason for both retailers and manufacturers, but the “whys” are different.
Retailers now have a choice as to what they want to sell. There are no product shortages, and most manufacturers are shipping on time. The ATA Show is your time to influence the buyers. Sure, you have sales reps and sure, most of your “heavy hitter” buyers are at the buy group shows, but the ATA Show is your only real time to interact and influence buyer decisions by getting them excited about your product. Nobody has excitement for your product like you do.
If you have attended these shows, you know quite well how limited your interaction is with the buyers. They are there to write orders. You might have a buyer drop off an order at your booth, or it may be a courier from the company who turns the order in. Regardless, by the time you get the Buy Group order, their decision is made. Hopefully you influenced their decision, but if you didn’t, your window has closed.
Every single manufacturer that has expressed reservations about attending the ATA Show has cited return on investment. Fair enough. I understand that we all need to be aware of the bottom-line impact. However, I would keep in mind how your bottom-line decision is interpreted by retailers.
Regardless of how you feel, perception is reality. In my mind, the show is more about the dealer than it is about me, the manufacturer. It is time spent developing, educating, and building relationships with retailers, which if done correctly, is beneficial for me as a manufacturer. What I find contradictory is how some manufacturers limit their sales exclusively to brick-and-mortar retailers, yet they feel there is so little value in interacting with those same brick and mortar retailers who sell their products, that they choose not to attend ATA due to low ROI.
Additionally, I’ve heard individuals say, “We are either going to go big, or we won’t go.” To be clear, dealers do not judge manufacturers based on their booth size. They judge us by our presence, by the quality of people we bring to the show, by our innovation and new product we introduce, and our ability to deliver product. Your presence matters, and your lack of presence makes a statement as well.
The ATA is the most time- and cost-effective way possible to engage with a large percentage of the most relevant retailers. If you manage your spend and keep in mind that it is your presence, not the size of your presence, that matters, the ATA becomes a high-value proposition.
Take this time, face to face, to talk with your clients and have meaningful and productive conversations. Photo Credit: ATA
I won’t lie, at the 2023 ATA Show, our company had conversations with two of our top 15 accounts to discuss various challenges. Would I prefer that we didn’t have those conversations? No! I wouldn’t have missed those conversations for anything. Because while they were tough conversations, these accounts felt (and were) heard, and more importantly, resolutions were put in place to reduce or eliminate the issues altogether. I guarantee you that if we had not attended the ATA Show, we would not be in the more favorable position (for both parties) that now exists.
The ATA Show is where you meet potential new customers, or where you swing existing customers toward your brand in a larger way. We’ve all been trying to maintain the sales momentum from the COVID years and stop the slowdown. During the past 30 years, I have learned that when sales get tough, many companies go on a cost-cutting binge, slashing expenditures on marketing and new product development. This is the exact opposite of what they should do because that is what your competitors are doing. When times get tough, those who slam the accelerator down have a much better chance of not only stabilizing the decline but gaining market share.
Don't miss your opportunity to connect with hundreds of retailers at the 2024 ATA Show. Photo Credit: ATA
If there were only one event I could attend each year, it would be the ATA Show. I mean, if you wanted to kill a Pope & Young whitetail, and your only options for hunting were Ohio or Florida, what are you going to choose? I want to be where there is the greatest number of eligible retailers and competitors, and the ATA Show is it.
I don’t care who you are, what you make, or your position in the industry, your days are short lived if you don’t stay on top of what is going on in your market. The ATA Show is so important that even the manufacturers who elected to reduce costs by not displaying at the ATA Show in years past still sent a contingent from their company to walk the aisles. They understand that if they don’t know what is going on, they are guaranteed to lose a lot, and no one wants to answer for that.
As a manufacturer, you will leave the ATA Show each year knowing more about your customers, their problems, your competitors and their product, and the market in general. If you as a manufacturer depart the ATA Show and say you had low ROI, you need to put down the cell phone, talk less, listen more, and start asking questions.
In conclusion, the COVID years gave archery and hunting a much-needed shot of adrenaline, the likes of which we as an industry never could have coordinated or even dreamt of. It was fantastic. However, it was a one-time event, and it is over.
The relationships and information sharing that occur on the floors of the ATA Show are what have made many of our businesses strong in days past and is unquestionably the recipe for success in the future.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP THE INDUSTRY, TO HELP INDIVIDUAL BUSINESSES GET THE MOST OUT OF THE INDUSTRY, AND TO HELP YOU.