Conversation with an exhibitor – Francesco Grillo from Steel Available
This article is part of the series “Conversation with an exhibitor“. It aims to better understand exhibitors’ problems and difficulties at trade shows and analyze the best possible solutions.
Riding the 4.0 digital revolution, Steel Available is disrupting the Steel Industry supply chain, bringing in definitive transparency, efficiency, and sustainability. Steel available is Asia’s first data-driven supplier relationship management and sourcing platform dedicated to heavy industry. They put their focus on transparency & trust, tailor-made services and make use of their industrial experience in Asia to help their clients. As part of their overall strategy, they regularly participate in trade shows all around the world.
Francesco Grillo, co-founder & CEO of Steel Available, shares business insights with us.
What is your market?
Steel Available relies on a large and continuously growing database of global suppliers. Attending exhibitions is one important way to get in contact with them.
We are a B2B company and our customers are:
- Buyers working in heavy industry
- Suppliers with an expertise in providing customized steel products
- SME’s in need of consultancy services
- EPC companies in need of a system to manage their suppliers
Our typical customer is responsible for sourcing & procurement in a company dealing with projects in the heavy industry sector. He will often use the services of an agent to source the steel material needs.
Our buyer usually finds the RFQ process very inefficient and time consuming and often discovers that suppliers are not qualified to respond to his requests.
On the other hand, our typical supplier may receive too many requests that do not not align with his expertise. He may also have difficulties building trust with clients and with access to new markets in different continents.
Our customers are based worldwide and we have previous experience working with clients from China, Japan, Germany, Brazil, USA, Iran, Russia, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Australia, France, and Spain.
Steel Available is the partner for supply chains in the Oil&Gas, Mining, Nuclear, Water, Renewables, and others.
The steel industry is US$ 1 trillion and employs over 8 million people. We focus on the high end of this market, the piping industry, valued at USD 320 billions by 2020.
Why do you participate in trade shows?
Our expectations are to find new partners, to make connections and to increase brand awareness.
As our market is very conservative, we need to demonstrate our platform and services to potential customers, during industry related events.
There are hundreds of exhibitions happening all over the world dedicated to our industries. This is why, in planning our marketing budget, we focus on our presence in some of the leading exhibitions, as both visitors or exhibitors.
To build our reputation as a leading service provider, we develop high standards of technical and commercial content and initiatives that engage our audience.
What events have you recently attended?
Just in November, we attended
- European Utility Week – Barcelona
- Offshore Korea – Singapore
- Get in the Ring / InnoDesign Tech Expo – Hong Kong
We attend an average of 10 to 15 exhibitions a year, mainly industry or startup related.
Why did you decide work with myfairtool?
Participating in events is part of our go-to-market strategy and it is still one of the first channels to meet new clients in our industry. We already have done a lot in our career and we had the experience that to get a ROI, preparation, lead capture and follow up are keys to success otherwise it is a waste of time and money.
We have been following myfairtool since the very beginning and we know how professional and hardworking they are.
We had a great opportunity to use it as we had to go to Barcelona for the European Utility Week and wanted to really get the best of the show.
We had an intern, experienced in graphic design, and we thought it would be a great learning experience to deal with this full project of exhibiting as it includes project management, cost and time constraint in addition to marketing, design and sales.
The schedule was tight and she had no experience in Event organization. That was a great idea to use myfairtool at this time.
She started looking for advice and best practices and “The Exhibitor” was the best resource online. She learnt step by step, especially from “The Trade Show Chronicles” where she really felt that her needs were understood and that the author really connected with her fears and beginner approach.
After this first complete experience, we are using myfairtool for our next exhibitions as exhibitors and visitors.
We saved more than 7 days of work!
How did you use myfairtool?
We used it to manage our budget and compare our expectations with the actual costs.
We used the media library to upload our new brochure and to have a storage system working worldwide. Dropbox and others are not accessible from China, so we had difficulties to give the marketing material in a professional way to our chinese clients – myfairtool solved that problem.
The best part is the company page, which was useful to promote our booth efficiently. We shared our the link with visitors and keep using it for upcoming events as well – we couldn’t find any other tool providing similar functions.
The next step was to prepare Email Templates based on possible situations – thank you, here is our brochure, let’s setup a meeting, etc..
All can be prepared before the event and is ready to send during the show.
We used different tags – hot lead, cold lead, investor, etc. – to easily identify each visitor during the lead capture process without having to type anything.
We took pictures of business cards so all contact information could be automatically scanned and saved in the system.
Using the email templates we prepared previously, we could with a single click send an email to visitors so they would receive the email 1 minute after leaving our booth.
What difference did it make?
During our last event before using myfairtool we collected 60 cards and only 5 were followed-up within the next 3 days.
Following-up with 1 person took us about 7 minutes.
With myfairtool we now follow-up 100% of our leads right during the exhibition.
If everything is well prepared, it takes us about 40 seconds to capture and follow-up a lead!