TORONTO - Even if record-warm March temperatures may have had some attendees thinking about backyard BBQs and not HVAC and plumbing, attendance held steady at CMX-CIPHEX 2012.

An estimated 14,000 came March 22-24 to the Metro Toronto Convention Center for the three-day event, matching 2010 figures for the biennial show.

Toronto temperatures soared into the 80s°F that week, highly unusual for a city where March snowstorms are more common than sunshine.

But trade show traffic was brisk during much of the event, with many attendees choosing to visit more than once, according to show manager Patrick Shield.

“The show floor was busy each day of the show and our numbers indicate that more than 10 percent of our attendees visited the show for two and three days,” Shield said. “That says we have the kind of products and the information they’re looking for. They’re willing to set aside time from a busy schedule to devote themselves to a day or more at their industry show.”

Those kinds of repeat visitors plus the new attendees each day made people such as Bruce Shaw of Trane Canada happy.

Trane Canada was one of the 900-plus exhibiting CMX companies.

Good crowds

“The aisles were busy and we came away with strong leads,” said Shaw, who works as Canadian general sales manager for Trane. “Product interest was high and it came from quality attendees who were clearly senior decision makers.”

And with the many trade show booths, plus educational seminars, attendees had plenty to see, said show chairman David Morden.

“CMX-CIPHEX is truly the showplace for our Canadian HVACR and plumbing industry,” he said. “Not only is it a source for new products and trends, it’s also an outstanding opportunity to come face-to-face with suppliers. You have an excellent opportunity to pick up new ideas.”

Two such ideas were discussed March 23 at afternoon sessions that were part of the show’s “learning forums.”

Stephen Collette of Your Healthy House tried to help attendees with “Navigating the Sustainable Building Field.”

Although Collette said the green building trend has been profitable, that’s not why he became involved in it.

“Why I do what I do is because of my kids,” he said. “I want them to grow up in a healthy world.”

Green adds value

Collette’s background includes building straw bale homes, but today he makes his living as a consultant, telling people how they can maximize the efficiency of their homes, reducing utility bills and saving the environment.

And you can do the same thing, he told the audience.

“Green is value added for your clients,” he said. “You can make money by doing green. You can also save the Earth.”

He discussed some of the green building standards used in Canada and the United States, including those of the Building Owners and Managers Association, and U.S. Green Building Council.

One of the problems with many such standards, Collette said, is they fail to account for good indoor air quality.
br>“We can have some of the most energy-efficient buildings, but if they make people sick, what good is that?” he said.

And other common construction industry practices exacerbate the problem.

“Residential ductwork we don’t tape,” he said. “Commercial ductwork we tape. Why is that? We’re lazy.”

He complained that Canada still permits 13-liter-per flush (3 gallon) toilets to be sold years after the United States banned the water-guzzling devices.

“We just have to stop selling the crap,” he said.

Don’t buy into the myth that sustainable building practices are difficult to do and often unprofitable, he told the audience.

“I make money doing this,” Collette said. “I make a lot of money, actually.”

Socially speaking

The Internet - social media marketing in particular - is another way to potentially make a lot of money, according to two CMX speakers and their March 23 session, “How Internet Marketing Can Increase Your Sales.”

Consultants Chris Appleton of WSI and Baltej Gill of Social Mindz told the HVAC and plumbing contractors in the audience that online marketing may be the most important communication medium they use.

“Managing your brand reputation online has never been more important than it is now,” Appleton said.

An estimated 1.4 billion people visit social media websites each month, he said, adding that does not include China where the communist government blocks access.

And most important to Canadian businesses, 71.2 percent of consumers there read or watch media online. Google is Canada’s No. 1 search engine.

Appleton recommended claiming and maintaining your business’ Google Places listing - something many smaller companies fail to do.

“If you just do this one thing, you are ahead of a lot of your competition,” he added. “Most companies do not have an online brand strategy.”

Claiming the listing helps you boost your presence in Google’s unpaid, “organic” results.

“You want to be on page one of Google,” he said. Page No. 2 is no better than page No. 100 to most consumers in search engine results.

The new world of marketing

Online reviews have changed what word-of-mouth advertising means, as well as its impact. A bad review, unanswered, can have a devastating impact on your company.

“Ninety percent of people who read reviews online, whether they are bad or good, believe them,” Appleton said. “You want to protect that brand that you have worked many years to establish.”

He suggested offering discounts on future service calls to encourage satisfied customers to review your company online.

Gill of Social Mindz used his portion of the presentation to stress that Facebook is far from just a time waster for teenagers, and he called posting YouTube videos the “secret sauce” for online marketing success.

The more content - updated often - you have that links to and from your website, the more success you will have in Google’s online rankings, Gill said.

“Google loves content. Content is food” to Google, he said. Write blogs, produce inexpensive videos.

Gill said ensure your website is smartphone friendly. He predicted that more people will use the Internet from their cellphones than desktop computers by the end of 2013.

“If you do this, you will be so far ahead of your competitors,” Gill said. Currently less than 1 percent of all websites are designed for viewing on cellphones.

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or email