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IBS 2020: What We Learned

Well, we got back from exhibiting at the International Builders Show last Friday and it feels like a weight off our shoulders. While we’ve attended in previous years, this was our first time putting on an exhibition. Being the largest annual light construction show in the world, IBS demands full attention and preparation.

For the months, weeks, and minutes leading up to the show, we were in a state of anticipation. Now that it’s over and we are back in Baton Rouge, it seems like a good time to settle down, quietly return to work, and finally take care of the tasks we might have overlooked in preparing for such a big conference.

Yet while we would love a second to catch our breath, that will have to wait. It’s important we take these post-show days to reflect on what we learned from our first time exhibiting. Nothing can compare to being there in person, but we wanted to use this blog post to share a few things we learned that might help anyone with their sights set on a show like IBS.

Richard’s Takeaway:

As someone who has gone multiple times as an attendee, it’s really a different mindset that you need to get yourself into. Attending, it’s kind of like going to play. You can really let your guard down and stay out all night and stumble into the show the next morning, but you can’t do that as a vendor. You’ve got to be on your A-game and be prepared mentally and physically. Fortunately, I have been a couple of times to where I can understand what an attendee might be interested in.

It’s interesting to realize that there are people from all over the world there and just about anyone there can be brought in to see our materials and our services. We got people from Israel, Australia, Brazil, Alaska, and Hawaii. Not to say there are no other trade shows that we can attend, but this is the biggest stage I’m aware of in our area. Sometimes we were taking leads back-to-back-to-back, so if you were there by yourself, there’s no way you could really track them without that lead retrieval system.

You just have to pace yourself. Everywhere you turn there are opportunities. Every morning starting at 7:30, I went to a breakfast where I made great contacts. On the monorail, on the shuttle bus, and on the airplane, you could be networking. Many people that do home shows or trade shows sit back and wait for people to come to them, but you’ve got to go out and fish in the aisles.

Richard at our IBS booth

There’s also a lot of potential in other vendors. On one side of me was someone that designed heating and air systems, and on the other side was a guy that did fresh air intake and they got to talking right off the bat, so the show is probably worth it just to meet each other no matter what industry you’re in.

You get to see your specific field and the industry as a whole on a different level than what you’re going to see staying at home. You’re getting out and being around people willing to share business ideas and secrets because they’re not directly competing with each other. It’s just a good group of hard-working people who really enjoy sharing what they do and how they do it.

Where we have the most room for improvement is in packing our items and designing the booth. One of our challenges was getting the crate there, unloading, getting the crate returned in bits and pieces, and putting it all back together. Hopefully, it’ll come back to the shop in one piece.

As far as logistics, it just takes a lot of preparation and planning to get there, from paying plane fares to hotel rooms and everything. You just have to plot it all out and make it as easy as possible so, when you get there, you’re ready to roll and when you’re ready to leave, you’ve got everything tucked away and you can easily get on the plane and feel comfortable about what just happened.

Maddi’s Takeaway:

“I had worked one other show before IBS but nothing compares to this show! IBS is three buildings full of the latest and greatest innovations and products. Talking with other exhibitors from across the country made one thing very clear: IBS is the place to be, the show to be in. Also, getting to share our product with builders and designers that had never heard of us before was amazing! Effectively communicating our concept was key to getting people interested in our products, and I believe that Richard and I did a great job!”

Maddi & Richard pose by the big IBS sign after the show

Ari’s Takeaway:

“No, I didn’t actually attend the show. However, I was involved in a lot of the marketing materials that went into it. So while I can’t say what it was like in Vegas, I can speak to the impact it had on the home office.

The biggest challenge was figuring out how we could stand out in the hundreds of booths and biggest names in homebuilding. We sent out a few emails ahead of the show to grow some brand recognition and announce our in-booth presentations. I also made a slideshow video to hopefully catch the attention of people walking by.

We also ordered some custom Mardi Gras beads to show our southern heritage. However, we ended up giving out just a few. I guess people just don’t want to carry around unnecessary baggage at such a big show. In fact, most of our responses came through electronic lead retrieval and a scannable QR code. We had the option to request a free sample either via an online form or a physical postcard, but pretty much everyone opted for the digital option. This goes to show the value of having multiple avenues to connect with interested people.

Was it worth it? Absolutely, hands down. Luckily next year’s IBS will be held in Orlando, a little closer to home and to most of our clientele. We hope to see you there! In the meantime, we hope you learned a little from our experiences. Subscribe for more updates and insights. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Houzz for ideas and inspiration. When your next project is ready, easily order online or request a quote.