Mobile showrooms help equipment manufacturers demonstrate products
By Chad Elmore08 September 2021
Experiential marketing environments give vendors a unique platform to engage customers.
Many equipment manufacturers have deployed an experiential mobile marketing trailer they can take directly to targeted customers to showcase and demonstrate their products or use as a traveling trade show booth during trade shows and conventions.
While trade shows have been a mainstay of business-to-business marketing plans for their ability to put exhibitors in front of a large number of people within the industry, the challenge for manufacturers has been connecting specifically with attendees who are planning to buy a product or solution.
Experiential marketing campaigns, also known as activations, can deliver an immersive brand experience for a smaller, more targeted audience. When executed on a mobile platform, they can bring the experience directly to a customer. Manufacturers can focus on specific companies and have their undivided attention to tell their story and demonstrate their solutions.
After the pandemic started and trade shows were cancelled and postponed, manufacturers had to get creative in finding ways for customers to interact with products, which led them to seek out a mobile showroom solution. Post-pandemic, the concept is expected to maintain the as it allows manufacturers a chance to connect with their customers on a more personal level.
Some manufacturers have worked with specialists in mobile design and showroom fabrication, such as St. Charles, Mo.-based, Craftsmen Industries, a designer and fabricator of custom mobile vehicles since 1982.
Launching a mobile showroom
Having worked with a number of manufacturing clients, the company had already seen how effective mobile spaces can be when designed well. Central to the design of the mobile showroom is the ability for the client to tell their story in a compelling way.
The mobile showroom allows visitors to touch and feel the products – so important when selling construction related equipment – and they can also walk away with a sense of excitement and energy from a live demonstration.
Executing a mobile showroom program requires managing the logistics of bringing a trailer to scheduled appointments with customers over an extended period. Some manufacturers plan for a six-month tour across the nation, with some extending it for an additional five months based on the positive response from customers and sales achieved by using the mobile showroom.
Some manufacturers said they have found it helpful to select a partner that can manage the logistics of a tour to a number of different locations. There are a lot of factors to consider, including calendar management, space requirements in customer parking lots and simply transporting the trailer and the driver between customer locations.
Companies also need to plan for updates to products during a mobile showroom tour, as well. As a result, some add new features to their trailers as the tour evolves. Some of these require design changes, and Craftsmen said it has implemented these at the last minute for their customers. In one case, they developed a solution literally overnight. They were then able to cut new gussets, put logos on the brackets, have them painted – all within a day or two.
Delivering immersive experiences
Hosting personalized experiences for targeted customers at a factory or dealer location makes it easier to comply with ever-changing health protocols as compared to traditional roadshow events where a manufacturer hosts guests at a restaurant or event space where there are more people involved and they don’t control the environment.
With mobile showrooms, manufacturers can maintain safe distances with customers, limit the number of people in the showroom at a time, clean surfaces constantly, use hand sanitation stations and install a small air filtration system inside. Even with these health factors, companies can still effectively present their products.
Manufacturers said they have realized a brand benefit from their mobile showrooms, too. It can be impactful from a brand awareness perspective as manufacturers visit companies at their office or manufacturing facility.
Mobile showroom today
Faced with the cancellation of all their trade shows, Somero Enterprises Inc., the Houghton, Mich.-based manufacturers of concrete laser screed machines used for leveling large concrete surfaces, decided to develop a mobile showroom.
The company used its trade show budget to build a mobile asset they could initially take to customers and then later become their trade show exhibit when live conferences return.
Somero conracted Experiential Vehicles, which provides a secondary lease and rental market for pre-existing experiential marketing assets, such as trucks and trailers, to manage the project. Experiential Vehicles then selected Craftsmen as the fabricator on the project.
“Craftsmen are specialists in expandable trailers,” said Gordon Vaughan, founder of Experiential Vehicles in Denver, Colo. “Picking fabricators is very much a trust game. Our customers are on a schedule and a product launch or customer commitment are completely dependent on their mobile showroom being ready on time.”
The project started with a pencil sketch from Somero. Experiential Vehicle’s designer then created a rendering to take to Craftsmen. It was a complex project because Somero’s design used multi-media to showcase its concrete leveling equipment, capabilities and services in the 53 ft. trailer. Two private meeting rooms for on-site sales discussions and a kitchen for hospitality were also needed. Other features included a 4x8 ft. video wall, a rotating wall, stage and back-lit graphics.
“The vision really was to create a flagship mobile showroom unlike anything the concrete leveling industry has ever seen,” said Vaughan. “Somero wanted a high-impact, statement presence outdoors when brought to customers and indoors where it will be the focal point of their presence at the concrete industry’s largest trade show.”
A window of opportunity
“Manufacturers need to get in front of their customers now,” said Vaughan. “With a little foresight they can design a mobile solution that will also be a ready-made exhibit as trade shows come back. The incredible immersive experiences that can be created within these environments means that a manufacturer is going to really stand out from the standard traditional booths their competitors will be using.”
What started out as a creative solution for manufacturers to market their products in the absence of trade shows, has become a way for them to expand on their trade show presence. The immersive experiences that can be created within the environment of a mobile showroom can help a manufacturer stand out.