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So it’s been a week since the International Builders Show wrapped. (Although it doesn’t quite feel like it thanks to crazy weather and a delayed flight which left me in Vegas a couple extra nights…) Surely since you unpacked you’ve read a few reviews from others on the good, bad, and ugly from the show this year. Somehow, we marketing experts all agree that the smartest booths are selling solutions rather than products. Despite that truism, the vast majority of booths missed the mark yet again.

As we noted in our last post on how to make exhibiting at a trade show worth it, manufacturers need to understand who’s attending. Admittedly, at this show, that isn’t so easy. Since IBS and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) have teamed up, the two shows make for a massive Design & Construction Week, bringing together over 85,000 industry professionals. For three days builders, designers, architects, distributors, and owners put on their comfy walking shoes (well, the smart ones at least), to trek through seemingly never-ending trade show halls. While they each have different problems that need solving, they have a shared goal. Regardless of the title on their badge, all 85,000 plus people there are looking for solutions that will ultimately help them make more money.

All that potential for new sales makes manufacturers giddy - so they ship out their booths and show their wares at these shows year after year, hoping to stand out. But the sad truth is that the bigger the show, the harder it is for anyone to remember you after they’ve passed your booth. And in a sea of over 2,000 exhibiting brands, with so much mediocrity, the eyes of our coveted prospective buyers glaze over. Every manufacturer there has an opportunity to prove they can solve customer's problems in a truly unique way. You just have to get their attention.

Here are a few who got ours.

Best in show for showing men how to sell to women: Masonite Doors

Surely, you’ve heard of Masonite. They’re one of the largest manufacturers of commercial and residential doors. Masonite manufactures interior and exterior doors, door components, and door entry systems. They’re smart because they know that although likely 75% of the folks who visited their booth were male, if they want to sell their doors - they need to appeal to women. To that end, Masonite helps builders market to the most powerful consumer.

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“Women are the world’s most powerful consumers, and their impact on the economy is growing every year. The global incomes of women are predicted to reach a staggering $18 trillion by 2018, according to global professional services firm EY.”

Even in this male-dominated industry, women matter. The decision maker for the vast majority of home purchases rests with the HGTV-watching female. Apparently, Masonite knows that most men have no earthly idea what women want, so they made the smart decision to show them. Their booth stood out because they stated the obvious and can help builders turn a blind spot into a competitive edge.

Best booth outside the exhibitors' hall: Brondell

If you haven’t been in the market for an electronic bidet, you may not have heard of Brondell. Turns out, electronic bidets are all the rage in Japan, so Brondell is looking to kill the toilet paper market here in the states.  Truth be told, I didn’t make it to their official booth, but I didn’t have to because I was sold while I was in a bathroom stall. Their restroom campaign stopped me in my tracks:

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“We flush 27,000 trees down the drain each day. Our need for soft toilet paper only encourages the paper industry’s deforestation. Using a bidet is environmentally friendly, not to mention more comfortable and effective.”

Given what we know about the purchasing power of women, Brondell is on to something. Women care about the environment, personal comfort, and body cleanliness. We are becoming a nation of more sophisticated travelers and the idea of a bidet, which once seemed so difficult for Americans to comprehend, now seems possible. Brondell is helping designers, builders, and developers get ahead of industry trends.

Best at the noisiest show for the quietest booth: Rockwool

Rockwool, a Denmark-based multinational manufacturer of mineral wool, put the acoustic benefit of its insulation product front and center and I was sold. Did they put the Sound Transition Class (STC) ratings on a gigantic banner? Nope. I couldn’t tell you what the Noise Reduction Coefficient is either. They simply put the proof in the pudding and let me taste it myself.

There’s no better place to show the benefit of peace and quiet than on an incredibly noisy trade show floor. With its fully enclosed sound experience, Rockwool gave attendees first-hand proof of the product benefit while removing any possible doubts. Entering the Rockwool booth—a fully insulated and enclosed space—the thing that hits you is how the deafening sounds of the trade show floor are immediately blocked. For me, feeling completely overstimulated after day two in Vegas, the silence was heaven. As I followed the hall back and turned the corner I was stunned to realize I had been feet away from a television playing at full volume. That singular experience would surely pique the interest of anyone specifying multi-family or hospitality projects, especially ones located near noisy highways and airports.  Quiet, after all, is the ultimate luxury.

Rockwool IBS 2019 Instagram Story

Rockwool IBS 2019 Instagram Story

So now that you’ve rested up and recovered after an action-packed show - ask yourself three things:

  • Who is our customer and what problems do they face?

  • How do you help solve their problems and make them more successful?

  • Where is the industry headed and are you acting as a guide to your customers?

Now, remember your booth. Does it clearly show prospects how you can help? Probably not. So start planning your strategy for IBS/KBIS 2020.


How well do you know the customers that you sell to?


Susan Milne

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered or would like find out more about how Epiphany can help you get specified, give me a call: 804.377.0106.