For me, 2021 has flown by, and once again, tradeshow season is upon us. Last year, we dealt with canceled events, pulling together last-minute virtual options and many other unknowns. This year, we’re that much smarter and better prepared for what is ahead of us, whether we get to meet in person, remain virtual or find a combination of both.
That said, many fabricators and window and door companies are in a conundrum that has nothing to do with associations’ decisions for tradeshow events. They are scrambling to meet unprecedented demand, supply chain issues and the ever-present labor shortage and are unsure if they have the time to dedicate to days out of the office for an event.
I think one of the greatest lessons through all the ups and downs our industry—and the economy in general—has weathered is to remain flexible to the variables we can’t control and focus on what we can control. Here are four considerations as we navigate through the rest of the year:
- Find a way to offer both in-person and virtual options. This goes for anything from tradeshows to customer meetings to employee gatherings, if possible. Events and restrictions out of our control may change, but people may also have varying levels of comfort meeting in person as we move into the fall and winter months and our typical flu season. You don’t have to invest thousands in expensive platforms. Video platforms provide excellent options for talking to customers virtually, and there are even some free services to create online tradeshow booth experiences.
- Meet your audiences where they are. At Quanex, we service everyone, from smaller regional shops to large corporations, working with people right out of college to baby boomers. As of 2021, four generations are active in the workplace: baby boomers, millennials, Generation X and Generation Z. While the latter generations tend to be more comfortable with technology and working independently, baby boomers are known to thrive in more team-oriented environments and face-to-face settings. Generational preferences should be accounted for when communicating with both your customers and your internal teams.
- Take care of the demands now while also preparing for the future. The current demand in the building and construction industry can take all your energy to meet, so be sure to carve out time to help your company plan and prepare for what’s to come. For example, the potential of Energy Star 7.0 upping demands for energy efficiency may require a second look at your processes, increased automation or even new technology. All of this takes planning, investment and preparation. The more you prepare on the front end, the better off you’ll be on the back end.
- Stay positive. Though a lot of the future is up in the air and out of our control, remaining nimble to change is imperative. And selling virtually in the B2B world is becoming more and more mainstream. In fact, 70% of B2B decision-makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000. Keeping options open for customers to make decisions in-person or online will provide a more well-rounded and satisfying customer experience.
For now, I’m looking forward to meeting you in person, or virtually, at the coming tradeshows. I’d love to hear your thoughts at Joe.Erb@Quanex.com.