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Is the Internet killing the field day?

Field Days

Posted by Admin, 03rd October 2013

Years ago manufacturers and dealers would put huge amounts of resources and effort into displaying machinery at the local field days, where farmers and contractors would turn out in droves tyo look at the latest and greatest on offer from Australia and around the world. These days, those same farmers and contractors are jumping onto the internet in the comfort of their homes and viewing the same products on company websites and farming forums, often viewing new releases from Europe or the US before they have hit the ground here in Australia. So the what is the future for field days as a marketing tool in the Australian machinery market?

Today there are as many field days being held throughout the country as there was 15 years ago, however what is becoming increasingly evident, is that there are far fewer people attending these field days – numbers through the gate are getting smaller every year. Conversely to this, the costs of exhibiting machinery at these field days are increasing – transport, site fees and labour costs associated with manning the stand have gone up during the same period for the exhibitors and many are asking the question – is it worth going? For a medium sized company to display tillage equipment at a decent field day will cost them upwards of $10,000 by tyne time they get the equipment to site, unload, set up tents and marketing paraphernalia, pay a couple of reps to attend the three days, along with accommodation, meals, etc., advertise in the program, then pack up and move onto the next field day two weeks later in another state. For most medium sized companies this will be their largest marketing expense on the year and depending on how many field days they attend, can total in the hundreds of thousands. Can this money be better spent on some HD filming of their product for TV or internet advertising?

Back in the day, deals were done during the field days and many sellers would report sales off the stand for equipment large and small – it was a way of justifying the expense of the field days and kept exhibitors coming back every year. These days the sales off the stand have diminished and although some still exist, most sellers will judge their field days by the amount of opportunities they get to follow up after the field days are over. Importantly, sellers are able to see many of their customers over the few days which would take them months to do in visits and appointments, however if the crowds are not turning up, this justification becomes harder to argue.

And therein lies the challenge for the various organisers of field days – how do we get people to come through the gate to justify the expense of the exhibitors? Are there too many field days throughout the year? Can we bring the three day event back to two days? We believe that the field days are still an important part of the marketing process for agricultural machinery – they support the local community, bring farmers and suppliers together and generally contribute to the fabric of the machinery/farmer relationship. We need and want the field days to continue to prosper, however with the power of the the information found on the internet, the field days have to encourage attendance.