Reflections on Ace Hardware Spring Show

Mail Boss Makes an Impression on Ace Hardware Dealers

Earlier this month, I attended my first trade show representing Mail Boss locking security mailboxes by Epoch Design. The show, put on by Ace Hardware, was held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center March 4-6, 2009.

It was exciting to pitch hardware store owners and managers on the Mail Boss. We managed to land a record 30 new stores that will be featuring the Mail Boss on an endcap, and met many more prospective new dealers.

I quickly learned at the tradeshow that closing a sale involved three key steps:

  1. Attracting Dealers to the Booth
  2. Establishing Consumer Product Need
  3. Demonstrating Product Superiority

Attracting Dealers to the Booth

Cash GievawayThis year we featured a cash giveaway at our booth, which successfully attracted a record number of potential buyers. But this wasn’t just any old cash giveaway…

To demonstrate the inferior security of the Oasis Jr. “Security” mailbox, (one of our competitor’s locking mailboxes), we let attendees reach into the box and fish out a bill. The box contained $1, $5, $10, $20 and $50 bills. While the $1s weren’t so popular—in Vegas, only worth about 1/3 a bottle of water or 1/8 a beer—I could tell people got a kick out of the concept.

I think it really drove home the point that not all locking mailboxes are created equal. In fact, with other locking mailboxes people may have a false sense of security; they think their mail is safe behind a locked door, but in reality their sensitive information can be retrieved by hand in just seconds. When I was pulling out that $10 bill, I could see some retailers understood that bill could be their identity (worth a lot more than ten measly dollars). That was a powerful realization!

Establishing Consumer Product Need

One of the most common objections we heard from potential buyers was “People don’t need locking mailboxes in our area.” While mail theft is certainly more common in some areas than others, the reality is that mail theft is increasing at an alarming rate, and a little known truth is that mail theft often leads to identity theft. The points that we emphasized to dealers to establish consumer need for a security mailbox were:

  • Mail theft is a nationwide problem of massive proportions that is only continuing to grow.
  • Consumer awareness on the prevalence of Identity Theft and the need to protect one’s identity is at an all time high.
  • As mail theft continues to increase and becomes more frequently reported in media outlets, consumers are (1) realizing that mail theft often leads to identity theft; and (2) understanding the need to protect their sensitive information at its source: the mailbox.
  • In a few years time, locking mailboxes will become the norm as individuals realize the danger of leaving sensitive personal information unprotected on the side of the street for any passerby to steal.
  • Now is the time to capatalize on this consumer trend, as people are increasingly concerned about protecting their assets.

If dealers did not understand the market growth potential for locking mailboxes after covering these points, we would ask them a series of questions that generally proceeded as follows:

Mail Boss: “Mike, let me ask you a question. Do you use a paper shredder?”

Mike: “Well, yes…”

Mail Boss: “And what is it that you shred?”

Mike: “Well, mostly bills, statements, that sort of thing. Anything in my mailbox with my name on it I suppose.”

Mail Boss: “And do you have a locking mailbox?”

Mike: “Errr… no… I guess that doesn’t make much sense.”

Mail Boss: “No Mike, it doesn’t!”

When we were able to establish on an individual level the need for a locking mailbox, many dealers understood the market need for security mailboxes and were eager to get on board.

Demonstrating Product Superiority

Demonstrating the Mail Boss locking mailbox product superiority was probably the easiest part of the sales pitch. First, had the dealers FEEL the difference between the Mail Boss and the competition. The Oasis Jr., (fished just minutes earlier and conveniently nearby), weighed in at just about 18 lbs, in comparison to the burly 40 lbs of heavy-gauged steel comprising the Mail Boss.

Then, we emphasized the innovative patented features that make the Mail Boss the ultimate in mail security as well as consumer ease of use. The features are:

  1. A patented anti-pry locking mechanism to prevent leveraged entry
  2. The patented Fast-Trak Mounting Plate which allows consumers to install the Mail Boss in just minutes

Finally, we deferred to the renowned Popular Mechanics editorial staff, who dubbed the Mail Boss “Postbox Maximus” (a nickname we tend to agree with). And for the more visually oriented, a picture was worth a thousand words:

Closing Comments

All in all, the show was a great success! We found that the experiences of other Ace dealers were extremely encouraging to potential dealers looking for new strong products to stock. As such, some thanking is in order!

We would like to extend a gracious thank you to Arlington Ace Hardware, who kindly provided us with a testimonial that we featured on our promotional material at the show. Their success with the Mail Boss motivated other dealers to try our product in their stores.

Also, we would like to thank Tim Koch, owner of Sammamish Ace Hardware. Tim spent some of his valuable time at our booth communicating his success moving the Mail Boss product to other potential dealers. Thanks again!

Lastly, we would like to welcome our new Mail Boss Dealers:

  • Ace Contractor Center – Meadville, PA
  • Ace Hardware – Parsons, KS
  • Ace Hardware West – Saint Helens, OR
  • Ace Home Center – Miami Beach, FL
  • Ace Home Center – Miami, FL
  • Ace of Shelbyville – Shelbyville, KY
  • AG Supply Ace HardwareEast Wenatchee, WA
  • Anderson Ace HardwareAnderson, SC
  • Globe Ace HardwareGlobe, AZ
  • Groom & Sons Ace HardwareMabank, TX
  • Groom & Sons True ValueAthens, TX
  • Hi-School PharmacySilverton, OR
  • Indian Peaks Ace Hardware – Nederland, CO
  • Kaufman Ace Hardware – Kaufman, TX
  • Key-Aide Ace Hardware – Ephrata, PA
  • Market Street Ace Hardware – Chehalis, WA
  • Matteson Ace Hardware – Coal City, IL
  • Mayson Ace Hardware – Fresno, CA
  • Mendo Mill & LumberClearlake, CA
  • Neu’s Building CenterMenomonee Falls, WI
  • Newby’s Ace Hardware – Dickinson, ND
  • Oilwell Materials & Ace Hardware – Rio Vista, CA
  • Powell Villa Ace Hardware – Portland, OR
  • Steve’s Hardware – St Helena, CA
  • Tates Creek Ace Hardware – Lexington, KY
  • Thomas Ace Hardware – Paradise, CA
  • White Jones Ace HardwareAnderson, SC
  • Ziegler’s Ace HardwareCrystal Lake, IL

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