Making the Most of Expo: One Company’s Perspective

September 27, 2009 07:00 PM
 

Calf-Tel marketing manager Joe Weber (top) and national sales manager Lewis B. Anderson, Jr. (bottom), discuss customers' management practices, likes, dislikes and needs at World Dairy Expo and apply what they
learn to ongoing product inno-vations. Photos: Rick Mooney
If it's the first week of October, there's a pretty good chance you'll find many of the folks from Calf-Tel's marketing and sales team at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.

The Germantown, Wis., maker of dairy calf-housing systems—including indoor calf pens, outdoor calf hutches and group housing—has been exhibiting at Expo for more than 25 years. "This is the heart of Dairyland and it's where our customers are,” says Calf-Tel marketing manager Joe Weber. "Over the course of the week at Expo, we figure we get exposure to over half of the entire North American market for our products. This is also the premier international show in the dairy industry. The international dairy market is an important segment of our business and we've had a great response from international visitors at the show.”

Weber says Calf-Tel, a division of Hampel Corporation, prides itself on its knowledge and understanding of the needs of its dairy producer customers. The company's presence at Expo helps build on that knowledge and understanding. "Coming here takes us directly to our customers,” Weber says. "At the show, we spend a lot of time answering questions from the producers about our products. But we also spend a lot of time listening to our customers and learning about their likes, dislikes, needs and management practices. We use this valuable information toward ongoing product innovations.”

Along with making direct connections with customers throughout the week, Calf-Tel uses its presence at Expo in other ways as well. Last year, for example, the company invited the media to attend a noontime event to unveil a new hutch design featuring a rear bedding door and increased ventilation. "It's a way to get a little additional buzz for our new products,” Weber says.

Weber notes that successfully staging this kind of event poses some unique challenges. "The media is very busy during the show, and you have to really think ahead when planning,” he says. "Our first step was to send out invitations to the media prior to Expo. Knowing that we had to stay in the forefront of their minds, we also sponsored the World Dairy Expo's media bags. This sponsorship allowed us the opportunity to include an additional invite and the attaché bag featuring our company logo. For an added touch, we also advertised in Dairy Today's Official World Dairy Expo Program.”

Event timing was also very important. "We reviewed other major events that were going on during the show and decided on a date and time that would allow for the best attendance,” Weber says. "We were definitely pleased with the overall results and would host events like this for future product introductions.”

Earlier in the week, Calf-Tel is also hosting a breakfast meeting for dealers who market the company's products nationwide. "These kinds of events are really valuable in building relationships,” Weber says. "This provides us an opportunity to say thank you to the dealers who sell our products to the dairy producers.”

The company has gained additional exposure by sponsoring one of the educational seminars held throughout the week at Expo. This year, Calf-Tel is back in the Exhibition Hall with increased floor space, and Weber expects another great show. "There's no doubt about it,” he says. ”World Dairy Expo is the leading show for dairy producers everywhere. It's definitely where we want to be." WDE

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