I just returned from the 2010 Sports Turf Managers Association Conference and Exhibition in Orlando where I spoke about management of warm-season athletic fields. After finishing my talk I took some time to walk around the trade show floor and see what was new in the industry.
I always enjoy seeing the new equipment and offerings from the variety of companies that attend these shows. I also enjoy seeing everyone on a scavenge hunt for the best handouts. It’s funny – I remember going to trade shows only to come back with a huge bag of pens, tablets, stress balls, and anything else that was being given away. While I appreciate the generosity of the companies who offer the items to us, I have reached a point where I simply have no interest in another pen or tablet that I will not use and will eventually be thrown away. More times than not, I will leave a trade show floor with nothing more than a few business cards. Until yesterday.
It had been about an hour since I entered the trade show floor, systematically working my way through the aisles of booths. Of course, I had to stop and drop off my raffle ticket in hopes of winning a 32 GB iPod Touch from Barenburg. Eventually, I came up on the Andersons Golf Products booth. They typically have a very nice booth, and this was no exception. What caught my eye though, was the “DG Man” toy that they were giving away.
As you can see in the picture, he is complete with a rotary spreader and spray wand. I could not resist — I had to pick one up. Then I started thinking, maybe the industry is missing out on a tremendous marketing opportunity. Could some of the negative perceptions of the industry be negated by making toys available that familiarize kids with management of turf and landscape areas? Maybe a small plastic fertilizer spreader, complete with plastic pellets, that could be used to spread “fertilizer” on the carpet. Or a toy-sized pruner that Junior could use to help maintain the shrubs in front of the house.
Regardless of the approach, the turf and landscape industries have a steep hill to climb when it comes to reversing some of the negative press that they have received in recent years. An emphasis needs to be placed on increased funding for research and developing public relations strategies to disseminate the results. Who knows, maybe toys can play a role.