Hanley Wood puts show on the road

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Construction industry media company Hanley Wood has taken the traditional trade show and told it to hit the road.

The publisher of Builder and the developer of, Hanley Wood in March will launch a mobile trade show called the American Dream Tour. Twenty-one marketers, including Andersen Corp. and Georgia-Pacific, are slated to exhibit in the show, which will visit the top 20 housing markets in the U.S. during the first half of this year. Jack Brannigan, Hanley Wood exec VP, and Rick Strachan, a group publisher, are overseeing the program.

Five trailers carrying the booths and products, pulled by Dodge Ram pickup trucks, will set up near local home builders associations in cities across the country. Atlanta, Philadelphia and Las Vegas are among the cities scheduled for visits from the roving show.

When deployed for the trade show, the trailers will have a canopy over them, so the event will go on rain or shine. Hanley Wood will handle all the logistics for the events and drive attendance by promoting them with a mixture of print, online and direct mail efforts.

Local support

In a fragmented market such as the construction industry, a mobile trade show provides marketers the opportunity to support their national communications programs with a local presence. "It allows companies to help their local effort align with their national effort," said Peter Goldstone, president of Hanley Wood Magazines. "The national brand is promoted in the magazines and the big trade shows, and it would take a huge amount of effort to translate that into local promotion. But now we have a solution."

Sarah Meek, Andersen’s manager-residential and commercial trade marketing, agreed. "It’s a great opportunity to get new and recently introduced products out in the market in front of our customers. … While we participate in many regional and local events, the American Dream Tour is unusual in the fact that it’s taking one show on the road through the local home builders associations. Many of our sales team and channel partners are members of these associations, but it would be difficult for [each of] them to pull off an event of this scale on their own."

Like many companies in the construction industry, Andersen, which markets windows and doors, sells into a fragmented marketplace. For instance, on Andersen’s Web site, the dealer locator tool divides the company’s dealers into seven markets, including those serving homeowners, contractors, architects and commercial suppliers.

Andersen uses many communications tools to reach this varied customer base. It advertises on television, underwriting "Ask This Old House," which airs on the Public Broadcasting System. It also advertises in print publications and online.

The company participates in large trade shows, which cater to either the distribution base or big builders. The sheer number of players in the construction marketplace, however, makes it difficult to reach local builders and contractors, who, in the aggregate, still account for a large share of Andersen’s revenue. Reaching some of these regional businesses is one of the things the American Dream Tour is designed to do.

Nearly sold out

Andersen is not alone in placing a bet on the inaugural American Dream Tour. At press time, only a few slots, which range in price from $75,000 to $200,000, remained. "It will definitely be sold out," Goldstone said.

The American Dream Tour is not Hanley Wood’s first foray into mobile marketing. The company’s first effort was a tour of construction sites and other unusual venues on behalf of Ford Motor Co.’s Site Commander F-550 truck. The Site Commander tour, which has included other sponsors, such as Hilti Corp. and Porter Cable, was the brainchild of Rick Schwolsky, editor of Hanley Wood’s Tools of the Trade magazine. This mobile marketing effort is entering its fourth year.

Hanley Wood said the integrated Site Commander program, which also includes a print and online component, generated more than 10 million "impressions" in 2003. Those figures include 83,715 in-person impressions and 41,907 entries in a sweepstakes that featured a truck giveaway.

Hanley Wood started a similar tour and integrated program for the Dodge Ram Toolmaster pickup truck in 2002. Stanley Works and Bosch have also been sponsors of this tour. The "Do More Tour" for the Toolmaster features three trucks visiting various residential and commercial construction sites across the country. With these three tours simultaneously crisscrossing the U.S., Dodge generated 405,857 in-person impressions last year, according to Hanley Wood.

The Ford and Dodge tours provide the foundation for the American Dream Tour, which has already generated more than $2 million in revenue for Hanley Wood, Goldstone said.

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