AEM’s Strategic Changes Drive New Event’s Growth

The Association of Equipment ManufacturersAG Connect Expo & Summit is on course to be the largest in its history—something show organizers attribute to a new name and enhanced marketing techniques.

“A couple of things are contributing to our growth right now. One is that we have this new Midwestern location in Kansas City” says Sara Truesdale Mooney, show director of the event. “The location is being greeted with a lot of excitement from our exhibiting bases. It’s close to their dealerships, so they can get equipment easily to this location, and a lot of them are looking to expand the exhibit space they’ve taken in the past. New companies are also signing on because, logistically, it’s quite easy for them to participate and have dealer support regionally.”

The first AG Connect Expo & Summit, which was previously called the AG Connect Expo, started in 2010 in Orlando, Fla. In 2011, the event took place at the Georgia World Congress Center and has since been on a biennial schedule. Truesdale Mooney says momentum for the 2013 event is partially derived from the expo’s close proximity to the Midwest’s farm and ranching operations.

“There’s a lot of excitement around that,” says Truesdale Mooney. “For our exhibitors, we’ve been really laying a lot of groundwork to get them engaged and energized. It starts with our show management committee and AEM’s agriculture sector board, who also drives the strategic direction of the show.”

The show-organizing committees kicked off planning efforts for the event earlier than usual to get exhibitors excited and engaged, and to drive sales.

“We took the excitement from the committees and shared it with the entire exhibitor base,” says Truesdale Mooney. “We kicked off our planning a lot earlier, and we had a free exhibitor meeting last October in Kansas City at the convention center. We got people to start thinking about the show in 2013—we had a space draw, free education, we gave them an opportunity to meet with show vendors and the staff, we unveiled free marketing tools and tactics, gave tours of the new convention center, unveiled new sponsorship opportunities and invited exhibitors to collocate customer meetings at the show.”

Because of these programs and initiatives, Truesdale Mooney says, exhibitors felt engaged in the process, which helped AG Connect Expo & Summit secure commitment. The show anticipates the event will be held on well over 200,000 square feet and have at least 300 exhibitors. The group collects demographic information on all individuals and provides lead retrieval services to exhibitors, which Truesdale Mooney says is less common with agriculture industry events, and something that has helped to make the 2013 event the largest in history.

“AG Connect is really a different event for the agriculture industry, so just calling it an expo was not accurately portraying the full scope of the event,” she says. “The networking, education, one-on-one access to CEOs, senior executives and product experts—it pushes us so far beyond exhibits. We talked about this for a long time, and we knew that re-naming the event AG Connect Expo & Summit would help convey what the overall show experience and value proposition is. Now, exhibitors have a much better idea of what to expect when they walk through those AG Connect doors.”

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