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.

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