Small business: Trade shows - Craig Fountain

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Craig Fountain founded OUTDURE in 2007. It builds decks for homes and for commercial properties

OUTDURE founder, Craig Fountain. Photo / Supplied
OUTDURE founder, Craig Fountain. Photo / Supplied

OUTDURE does design, research and development, manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, its products including the ECO-DECKING range and the revolutionary QWICKBUILD deck frame system, the world's first nail and screw-free deck. Based in Henderson, OUTDURE exports to Europe, Australia, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

What trade shows do you go to and why?

OUTDURE exhibits at the annual home and trade shows in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. The home shows, such as the Auckland Home Show, not only give our brand exposure, but they give thousands of potential clients the opportunity to see and feel the quality of our products, and talk to our sales reps about how our systems can work for them.

We also exhibit at industry shows such as BuildNZ as our products provide solutions for specifiers working on both commercial and residential projects. Industry shows are also a great platform for us to launch and showcase continual developments in decking and decking frame systems and services.

How do you choose the shows you attend?

The projected visitor attendance numbers are obviously key, along with the type of attendees and locations of the shows. We also have to look at the investment required and if we can secure a great exhibit location to ensure high foot-traffic and visibility.

What have trade shows done for your business?

By consistently exhibiting year after year, we have built brand awareness and consumer trust. Show attendees comment that they see us at every show. Having this continued presence is what people are looking for. Ultimately, trade shows provide us with valuable sales leads. They are an excellent opportunity to explain the intricacies of our range face-to-face and receive valuable feedback from customers.

Which have been the most valuable to you so far?

It is not necessarily the biggest show with the most attendees, this obviously helps, however the value of a show is evident in the following thre to 12 months. The Auckland Home Show is good for us as our products offer solutions to leaky decks/buildings which is predominantly an Auckland issue. Similarly, the Christchurch show is good for us as our products offer very quick ways to remedy earthquake damaged homes.

What mistakes have you made?

We've exhibited at shows we needn't have bothered with. It really is a case of trial and error in finding the balance of determining how big or small our stand needs to be, where to have our stand, how much to spend and how many people we need both working on the stand and afterwards following up on the enquiries.

What are you trying to get out of a trade show each time?

Ultimately it's all about connections and sales. But in order to do that, we need to educate consumers on the quality and innovation of our products and how they make their lives easier and more enjoyable. Allowing customers to touch and feel our products shortens the sales cycle and we get the opportunity to talk with them specifically about their decking projects.

What business deals have emerged for you from previous trade shows?

Often overseas buyers are in attendance, which has led to some large and very exciting export projects. Having said that, every business deal is exciting to us, from small residential decks right through to large commercial projects.

What would be your advice to new businesses going to a trade show?

Be very analytical about all the costs involved.It is important to have good location for your stand and ensure it is informative and eye-catching to passers-by. Allocate enough resources to engage attendees and to efficiently manage leads afterwards.

A number of smart SMEs are running topic workshops for clients and others, setting the agenda of discussion in their field of expertise. Tell us your stories.

- NZ Herald

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