The Global Buyers Mission (GBM), the largest and most important wood show for international buyers and Canadian sellers of value-added wood products—according to a survey of those attending the annual Whistler affair—is set to kick-off January 25–29 as a custom “live” virtual event.
A temporary solution to the current travel and other covid-related restrictions, tradeshow event companies, vendors and buyers alike have been pursuing their marketing and sales objectives via online tradeshows, webinars and events since mid-March. So is it working? Are people planning to participate in the virtual GBM? And what’s their outlook for the event?
To find out, we reached out to three high-profile, regular GBM participants as well as the virtual tradeshow-event company. These participants includes Murakami Lumber—one of Japan’s oldest and largest importers of lumber and value-added wood products; Daizen Joinery—a high end custom log home and timber frame manufacturer in Kamloops, BC; and Fraserwood Industries—an innovative provider of heavy timber products and timber fabrication services based in Squamish, BC. We have calls into other participants as well and will update you on what else we learn in January.
First up was Mr. Kenji Sahara, president of Murakami Lumber in Japan, who confirmed his company’s intent to participate with the objective of “meeting with suppliers of interest”. Mr. Sahara noted his preference for face-to-face meetings, but based on his company’s experience at the Japan Home Show and several BC Wood-organized virtual events, he was confident of a positive outcome. According to Mr. Sahara, “to see and check the quality of the product is indispensable for us and the online meetings are easy to arrange compared to a business trip. We also think it is a good way to find proper suppliers, and online meetings give us the chance to think carefully before we actually meet.”
Johnny Matak, Business Development Manager at Daizen, a seasoned tradeshow partaker, has “run the gamut” when it comes to sales events in North America. “The key to success”, says Matak, “is building relationships and that’s hard to do in an online event”. But he believes the GBM can be successful, in that it pre-qualifies the attending buyers and specifiers and facilitates pre-scheduled meetings. And Matak plans to take full advantage of the advance notice provided of who’s participating, by inviting them, along with Daizen’s own contacts, to visit the event and his booth. “Nothing can replace the “captive perfection of the Whistler bubble when it comes to building relationships”, says Matak, “but the opportunity to remain consistent, make contact, and demonstrate product quality via creative approaches such as an online factory tour—is proving effective.”
When Covid-19 forced Fraserwood Industries’ Heavy Timber Specialist Kurt Westerlund to reinvent his sales and marketing model, his first (Google) search was in the direction of the gaming-world. “Who knows better how to stay connected while avoiding the all-too human temptation or distraction of email and twitter”, said Westerlund. “I downloaded some free Open Broadcaster Software, bought myself some inexpensive lighting, a camera and a green-screen facsimile, and moved into the garage.” What works best, “is a combination of a pre-recorded video presentation with picture-in-picture commentary. That is to say, your talking head is in the corner of the screen”. Although not a replacement for face-to-face meetings, Westerlund is sure these new video tools will improve the cost efficiency of lead generation and following up, and thus part of his tool kit going forward.
The GBM has only one focus, to put sellers of wood products in direct contact with prospective buyers. And if you take Messrs Sahara, Matak and Westerlund at their word, Canadian wood manufacturers should take advantage of the GBM to showcase their wares to hundreds of pre-qualified international buyers and specifiers. Canadian Trade Commissioners around world are currently promoting this unique opportunity “as a means to do business, sans the high-cost travel and time commitments”. For more information on the GBM, click here.