Saturday, 28 November 2009

Are Exhibitions worth the time and trouble?

The future of trade shows for 2010 and beyond. Part 1

(In my travels last week I had two requests on this subject. One came from a Sales Director of a leading cables, connectors and accessories manufacturer/supplier who was attending a marketing course I was running, and the other came from a Sales manager whom I visited later in the week whose company manufactures and distributes servo motors, drives and couplings.

Both raised the current concern of whether exhibitions were worthwhile in today’s tough times. So thanks to them for prompting me to write on this topic)

20th Century - Exhibtions
The exhibition centre Olympia in West London was established in 1886 as the ‘National Agricultural Hall’. Olympia has had to adapt through many recessions and booms in business cycles over the last 123 years of its operation. The Olympia complex is now part of Earls Court and Olympia Venues (EC&O) has dual slogans “Creating legends” and “Where it all comes together” both convey what exhibitions can do for us;firtsly to promote and secondly meet at a one stop shop for the market all under the same roof.

In the current recession, some firms who traditionally exhibit, may be looking to cut what they might consider non essential expenditure
With the economy as it is, they are seeking to rein in costs and might even decide to skip shows next year. Yet Suppliers are coming under increased pressure from customers to show them business efficiencies and higher returns on investment. In the Marketing Communication mix Exhibitions, trade Shows and the like still have a contribution to make.

(Olympia, West London November 2009)

Visiting and/or showing at a trade show gives companies a great opportunity to increase sales and sales activity through meeting and learning from the key decision makers and influencers in their industry. At an exhibition you can see, understand and possibly experience or observe a series of demonstrations of the latest products and services in the market place all in one spot. The networking opportunities within one venue have obvious advantages also.

Buyers and Sellers are questioning the value of exhibitions
In potentially difficult trading conditions, with the same number of companies chasing diminishing budgets, sellers have to work harder than ever to win what business there is out there.
One of the ways to give you an advantage could be exhibiting at a trade show.
Trade shows provide sellers and buyers with the opportunity to fulfil a number of sales and marketing objectives at the same time – lead qualification, market research, product launches and building, your brand for example.
You can also see your whole marketplace in the space of relatively short time. The biggest strength of exhibiting at a trade show is being able to engage in conversation with your target audience.

• The future of High Profile shows
It is fair to say that the high profile exhibitions for certain sectors that include huge expensive stand designs are becoming a thing of the past . Many exhibitors and visitors are interested in more specialist shows and niche communities.

• Evolving in the future?
Trade shows are naturally evolving into more niches, specialist exhibitions with ‘focus’ .

We will also see the growth of pre-show professional networking events as visitors look to maximise their time on site, instead of simply turning up and visiting stands.
Increasingly, exhibitions will be as much about meeting peers and industry leaders as visiting exhibition stands.

(Advertisement Board 2009 Outside Olympia)
Exhibition organisers are building more detailed education and training programmes featuring key speakers from all areas of the industry.
Today’s exhibition organisers pick out topical business areas that they think will affect their visitors the most over the next year and assemble high profile line up of expert speakers, business leaders and entrepreneurs to provide valuable advice and help for delegates looking to build a stronger business through difficult times.

The next five years?
It’s difficult to look beyond this year as we all wait to see how 2010 unravels. Although cost slashing, acquisitions and restructuring will inevitably have their part to play
2010 may be the year when more traditional exhibitors finally bid farewell to conventional business models and concentrate their efforts on the sophisticated provision of solutions, with value-added benefits.
Exhibitors will need to further demonstrate return on investment and business efficiency will be key for all in the business next year.
Even if your company might skip showing at an exhibition it still might be worth visiting as part of your ongoing networking activity and reconnaissance of your competition.

Here are some websites addresses to European Venues whose Calendars you may care to consider for your prospecting Diary and keeping you up to date in what is new in your industry.

Birmingham : NEC :
London Earls Court & Olympia :
London Docklands ExCel Centre :
Hannover, Germany:
Essen, Germany:
Glasgow : Scottish Exhibition Conference Centre

In a future post further advantages and disadvantages to Buyers and Sellers of Exhibitions will be considered.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Ghost Forest at Trafalgar Square

Great exhibition by artist Angela Palmer in Trafalgar Square 16th November 2009

More about the campaign

Monday, 2 November 2009

Is PR under the hammer of the tweeters?

Entrepreneurial thought and action daily challenges the Sales and Marketing Status Quo.

For example Product Life Cycles shorten and shorten through the effects of the ‘creative destruction’ * of technological progress and the entrepreneurial marketing and selling of such development.

This applies to both tangible product and intangible service markets it seems. Evolutionary economics abounds. Every one has to fight for their share of the food but the pecking order can be changed by the entrepreneur. Take a look at this entrepreneurial heron who has newly arrived to upset the incumbent gang of peacocks who have held stage at this garden at Holland Park, London for years.

• Cassette tapes were replaced by 8 track which were replaced by Compact Disc which are being replaced by MP3.....
• Conventional Film e.g. Kodak replaced by Polaroid which was replaced in turn by digital photography.....
• Newspapers replaced by on line media
• Traditional MBA and University Alumni and old school tie associations, replaced by social networking such as Linked In and Viadeo

*The term creative destruction is often attributed to the economist Schumpeter:-

Schumpeter’s Gale: “The opening of new markets and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as US Steel illustrate the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one and incessantly creating a new one ‘ (The process).... must be seen in its role in the perennial gale of creative destruction; it cannot be understood on the hypothesis that there is a perennial lull.” Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883 – 1950), - The process of creative destruction (1942)

What is next Sales and Marketing issue to come under the iconoclast’s sledge hammer?

Ray Snoddy in his excellent column in Marketing Week magazine suggests that the old PR adage ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ may being smashed by the fusiliers of tweeting. We have after all witnessed the awesomely speedy campaigns mounted over the Stephen Gately /Jan Moir debacle resulting in amongst other things – withdrawal of banner adverts by Marks and Spencer and Nestlé on the Daily Mail web site.

What likely business effects will Twitter have on your market?

Your comments please

Do we really need Business Gurus? Do we need Gurus in Selling?

Selling is much about learning from your clients yet entrepreneur Henry Ford pointed out that if he had listened to his customers he would have built a better horse and buggy.

London to Brighton Veteran Car rally November 2009.

In the Schumpeter column in the Economist 24th October 2009 issue there was an articulate swipe at Gurus under the title “The three habits of highly irritating management gurus. “

In their rifle sights were the authors and perhaps rather easy targets of Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People/ families etc.....) , Tom Peters ( In search of excellence (1982)) and author Jim Collins.

The three habits lampooned by Schumpeter were
1. Presenting stale ideas as breathtaking breakthroughs ( Common sense made complicated)
2. Citing model firms ( as best practice)
3. Flogging of management tools off the back (systems. Processes and “rules” etc) (The bracketed comments are my distillation of lengthier expositions in the article).

The Schumpeter column concluded:- “If management could indeed be reduced to a few simple principles, then we would have no need for management thinkers. But the very fact it defies easy solutions leaving mangers in a perpetual angst means there will always be demands for books like Mr Covey’s.”

Such lampooning could also be directed to the myriad of Sales Books on the bookshelves but I know will be back to the bookshops to buy them and read them and even the magazine racks to pick up my Economist.

“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How useful do you find Business Gurus?