What Are Your Thoughts on Buying Groups and Trade Associations?
I know there’s been lots of discussions on the pros and cons of buying groups over the years, and I’m not here to try to sway you one way or the other.
I recently came back from STAFDA, which for those who don’t know, is an association of construction distributors and the manufacturers that sell into that market. What struck me at the trade show part of the event was it was obvious which manufacturers didn’t belong to a group. You saw plenty of Evergreen, Sphere 1 and NetPlus badges there, but they were concentrating mostly on seeing the manufacturing members of their respective groups. (I’m using STAFDA as an example and I’m not trying to pick on them.)
So my question is for those who don’t belong to a group (and don’t have a unique product), how do you justify going to one of these meetings? Should the association try to incentivize distributors to stop by new member booths? I feel sorry for those folks who ponied up the cash but not very many distributors stopped by.
Another interesting issue is that most of these buying groups have their own annual meetings and some are incorporating trade shows along with these get-togethers. From a manufacturing point of view, which shows do you go to? Obviously it’s the ones where you get the most bang for your buck.
Associations/buying groups may want to look at their model as things have changed over the past several years. They need to ask about the value proposition of getting these distributors and manufacturers together. Instead of trade shows (whoever introduces a new product at one of these), maybe there should be a series of round table discussions on how to improve the supply chain for everyone involved.
There are some really smart people out there (on both sides), and I believe a lot more could come out of these kinds of meetings and they could include all members.
Any of you belong to other type groups that have changed the model? I’d like to hear from you.