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We at AQUA can go on and on about how awesome trade shows are, but really, what’s in it for you? AQUA contributor Brett Lloyd Abbott makes a strong case for why pool builders in particular have a lot to gain from show attendance.

Before I joined the swimming pool industry, I spent about 20 years in high-tech sales and marketing. Every year I would attend the massive SEMICON trade show in Silicon Valley, getting exposed to the cutting-edge of, well, cutting-edge technology. And every year, I would come back home with new insights, new contacts, new product info and a new level of understanding and expertise in the semiconductor industry.

Yes, I was a geek. (It’s nice to be in a geek-free zone for a change.)

But there was a valuable advantage in attending all those geekfests. Those of us who went to the show always had a leg up on those who didn’t get to go. We were hot stuff around the water cooler. And that’s why I want to talk to you about trade shows.

If you want to be better, smarter, more successful and more popular around the water cooler, then you should be making tracks to at least one industry trade show every year.

Based on my own back-of-the-napkin calculations, somewhere between 10 percent and 20 percent of all pool builders will attend a trade show. That means the remaining 80 percent of all pool builders will be behind the curve compared to the handful that make the effort and investment to attend a show.

Wouldn’t you rather be in the top 20 percent?

Forgive me if I’m beating this to death here, but in my mind, this is a very big deal. My overriding passion in this industry is to help pool builders sell more pools. And since there doesn’t appear to be a solitary “silver bullet” that will make builders more successful, I’m always on the lookout for any opportunity that will give my clients the edge.

Going to a trade show is one of those things that will help give you the upper hand.

Besides keeping you on the cutting edge of new pool industry products and technology, there are other reasons you should seriously make plans to attend a show:

• You can get your hands on new sales and marketing tools that can help you in your next face-to-face meeting with a homeowner or commercial buyer.

• You can very easily get any continuing education credits you might need to retain your certifications.

• You can often corner your current and/or would-be suppliers and talk them into providing some co-op dollars to help with your past and future marketing efforts.

• You’re bound to meet at least one person who somehow, someway, will help you be more successful and profitable in the year ahead.

And of course, when you get back home, you’ll be the coolest person hanging around the water cooler. (And in the long-term, you’ll eventually be the coolest person in the parking lot because of the new car you just bought.)

Either way, I hope I’ve inspired you to make pool industry trade show attendance a mandatory part of your overall marketing and success plan. A marketing guy can do a lot for you, but this is one thing you’ll have to do for yourself.

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail scottw@aquamagazine.com.