Q&A — 01 January 2013

The Consumer Show Option


Q. Has participation in consumer shows worked for you?

A. John Monson, Bill’s Gun Shop & Range

We do a whole bunch of shows, and they are not only sportsmen’s shows. We do women’s shows, wedding shows and home and garden shows, as well as the boat, sports and travel show and the Minnesota Deer Classic.

We look for shows that will pull between 35,000 and 50,000 people over the course of the show. I want to show 50,000 people what we are. I will take an old shotgun or bolt-action rifle from our stale inventory and bring it in as free raffle prize. All people have to do is fill out an entry card with their name, address, telephone number and email address, and by filling it out they are authorizing that we can add them to our mailing list. By that method we pick up 2,500 unique names to add to my list. No matter what you do when you exhibit, you must give something away to help attract attendees at the show and get their contact information.

Not only do we meet a whole bunch of potential new customers, but we see a lot of regular customers. And both learn a lot about who we are and what we offer.

We are not really trying to make money at the show. Instead, I look at this as advertising, and that’s why I don’t have my hard-core sales people staff our booths, but, instead, I will have our promotions person—a woman—and another fellow, perhaps one fellow who is a veteran or maybe a young man on our staff. They all present very good images and are not hard selling. What they are dispensing is information about our facility, our amenities, our classes and our leagues. We wish to project the realistic image that Bill’s Gun Shop & Range is all about safety and education.

The booth is a simple table with a drop cloth, loaded with our literature. If the booth is large enough, we’ll have a back wall with photos.

The bridal shows actually are very productive. We promote our women’s classes and leagues, and we sell them pepper spray and mace, among other things. They learn about the bachelor and bachelorette parties that we host. And we promote it all in a very nonassertive manner.

When we are at the Minnesota Deer Classic, we can’t promote deer hunting, obviously, because we don’t offer that, but the hunters can sight in their guns at our range.

Our cost is typically between $1,250 and $1,500. It may cost about $750 for the booth space and another $500 for our staffing.

A. Rick Hansen, Silver Bullet Firearms & Training Center

We attend several consumer shows annually and continue to find them effective business recruitment tools. Among the shows we have attended are Huntin’ Time Expo, which we have shown at for eight years; the West Michigan Home and Garden Show, where we’ve been for seven years; the Ultimate Sport Show (eight years); and the West Michigan Lake Front Living show and even the Ottawa County Fair, both of which we have been to once.

Furthermore, we will be attending West Michigan Women’s Expo in 2013.

Our typical booths consist of: a 20-x 4-foot professionally printed sign/header identifying us by name and logo that is suspended over our booth; a variety of Champion and Liberty residential safes; stacks of store brochures and sales flyers; a loop video of recent ads and/or a promotional video of Silver Bullet; one or more smiling, hand-shaking, well-versed, eager-to-serve team members standing attentively, asking show attendees if they are familiar with Silver Bullet Firearms and what we offer and inviting attendees into our booth.

At both hunting and sport shows we bring out our LaserShot system operated by the local BSA Venture Crew that we sponsor. We charge a modest fee, which we share with the Venture Crew, and we award prizes hourly to our Hot Shot participants.

Obviously, we believe we benefit from our participation, and we do so in several ways. First, we are reaching demographics that our core advertising may not cover. Second, we are receiving repetitive exposure as West Michigan’s residential safe experts, as an indoor shooting range open to the public indoor shooting range and as the finest gun shop in the area – “the place to buy.” In addition to a few safe sales at the show we are “planting seeds” that generate store visits by motivated buyers.

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