MATS: Better For This Than That

February 20, 2017 | Trucking and Transportation
Mid-America Truck Show logo.

The Mid-America Truck Show (MATS) is the biggest event in the trucking industry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s best at everything. Good as the show is, it's better for some things than for others. So if your company plans to attend (which we recommend), keep these four trade-offs in mind.

Better For Brand-Building Than Recruiting

Graphic highlighting the importance of brand-building over recruitment at the Mid-America Truck Show.

The largest gathering of truck drivers in the world might seem like the ideal place to recruit, but the results are often less than ideal. Why?

  • First, lots of other carriers are there to recruit, too, and they’re all packed together into the same pavilion. Though friendly, everyone is vying for drivers’ attention and often saying similar things. It’s very hard to stand out.
  • Second, most drivers who attend aren’t looking for any job or yours in particular. They want to see the cool trucks, products, and shows. So getting their attention, let alone getting them to apply, is an uphill climb unless you’ve done some serious pre-show promotion and have drivers coming specifically to meet with you.
  • Third, MATS may draw a lot of drivers, but the majority are owner operators. Most are looking for tools to build their own businesses, not looking to join yours. So, the show isn’t the best place to find company drivers.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recruit. You just need to adjust your mindset and expectations. Instead of thinking you’ll fill all your trucks, go with the goal of building your employer brand:

  • Strengthening your reputation and awareness among drivers
  • Engaging in good conversations with them
  • Finding some solid leads to follow up with afterwards

Like we said, you’ll also enjoy better results if you promote your booth beforehand and have a way to pre-schedule meetings with candidates.

Better For Listening Than Being Heard

Graphic highlighting the importance of listening over being heard at the Mid-America Truck Show.

At an event where everyone’s talking (some with megaphones), it’s tough to get your message out. Don’t let that stop you from trying, but also expect to use your ears more than your mouth. No other event can offer such a wide range of valuable industry information, so take in all you can:

  • Insights from industry leaders and experts like Bob Costello, the ATA’s chief economist.
  • Product announcements and Q&A opportunities with practically every vendor in the business
  • Chats with fellow carriers and drivers
  • And yes, lots of live entertainment, too.

You can’t guarantee people will go home talking about you, but you can certainly take home a lot worth talking about.

Better For Working Than Playing

Graphic highlighting the importance of work over play at the Mid-America Truck Show.

MATS is a lot of fun, but even more work–and definitely not a vacation. It doesn’t simply reward hustle, but requires it because the show is so large that you’ll miss opportunities or get overlooked yourself if you’re not fully involved.

So, instead of expecting the industry insights, products, and drivers to come to you, go get ‘em. Attend the seminars, visit the exhibits, get out of your booth and engage with candidates. Along with this go-getter mindset, be sure to take the right apparel, especially shoes that you’re comfortable standing and walking in all day.

Better For Starting Than Finishing

Graphic highlighting the importance of starting over finishing at the Mid-America Truck Show.

Don’t expect a be-all, end-all destination or a place where you’ll close lots of deals, but rather a launch pad that gets you going in the right direction. MATS is a great place to make or refresh important contacts within the industry. And it’s also a premo opportunity to explore the full range of solutions to your needs.

If, for example, you’re evaluating products to increase the fuel efficiency of your trucks and trailers, you can see all the available options in one place, and even better, speak with reps from each. Nothing beats that one-on-one dialog and the chance to get direct answers.

But it’s really what you do after the show that counts. Be ready to continue whatever you begin there–whether it’s staying in touch with an important new contact, doing the homework on products you’ve discovered, or following up with your driver leads. Committing to follow through ensures you have a better reason to attend in the first place.

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