Trade shows and print advertising remain staples of many auto suppliers' marketing efforts, but OEM-hosted “tech days” have emerged as a key route to reach automakers. Such meetings offer suppliers an opportunity to demonstrate technology that they wouldn't want to showcase in a public trade show.
“Just about everyone is doing these tech shows,” Niederquell said. “It's the only way to show proprietary technology that's really going to make a difference to a customer's business. You can't do it in a public forum, and that's why some of the larger trade shows have suffered. It's much easier to go into [American Honda Motor Co.] and say, "Here are two or three things we're working on for the future that will make a big difference in your business' rather than publicly doing it at a larger venue.”
Regardless of how they market to automakers, suppliers should be most concerned with ROI, Donley said. “What are you getting for, say, a sponsorship?” he asked. “Is it just a logo on a banner, and they'll identify you as a sponsor and don't even pronounce your name correctly? What's the return on that? You need something that's going to stick.” M