To exhibit or not to exhibit?

Pinnacle Consulting’s Steve Rogan asks are exhibitions a key part of your strategy?

Two or three weeks ago, I received an email from Ecobuild regarding the exhibitors’ pack for the 2015 show, and it reminded me of the many differing views I constantly hear on that much discussed topic of the value exhibitions have in today’s ever changing way of promoting products and services in the building industry.

Many of our clients, who are manufacturers and merchants in the building and construction industry are beginning to question whether their funds can be spent better elsewhere, whereas some still benefit greatly from trade shows. 

Marketing Managers usually breathe a huge sigh of relief when a major exhibition has finished, but the pressure is then to put on the Sales teams to start working their way through the wheat and chaff of the leads generated. 

Of course, in the background the Managing Directors, Commercial Managers and Financial Directors are anxious to ensure the leads generate new business to justify the expense of the show.

So with all these people involved are trade exhibitions really still worth the investment or just a costly flag-waving exercise?

A large trade exhibition doesn’t just take a week out of a company’s time; it is a huge investment of people, time and finance.

The preparation of a successful show takes months: selecting the space and position; design of the stand; deciding on your objectives and key messages, writing the copy; design of any graphics; creating any necessary new literature; arranging electrics and stand services; completing reams of paperwork; organising promotions; inviting customers and prospects; organising travel, accommodation and stand personnel; building of the stand; coordinating everything with product launches, printing of literature; arranging giveaways, sales samples and demonstrations for the stand as well as maximising the press coverage of your presence.

After all that comes the break down of the stand and then dealing with requests for information and following up all the leads post show. It is tiring just thinking about it!

Stands become a sales and marketing team’s ‘home’ for the week and some stands can cost almost as much as a small house itself – perhaps they should be included in the UK housebuilding figures!

Any responsible marketer has to think carefully about their show strategy: which show to exhibit at, what to promote, how to maximise the number and type of people visiting the stand. You cannot just expect the show to be a success, otherwise the expense should perhaps be used elsewhere.

There are many questions to consider when deciding whether to exhibit:

  • Do you need to be there to enhance your profile and reputation?
  • Can you reach people we wouldn’t normally be able to see?
  • Is the opportunity to bring people to you and physically show your product a major benefit?
  • Would you have got these leads anyway?
  • Could the money be spent more effectively elsewhere?
  • Can you afford to have your sales team off the road for a week?
  • Do you have anything new and interesting to say?
  • Can you reach people just as effectively through other media use?
  • Does it fit in with your current business strategy and objectives?
  • Will you put as much time and efforts in post-exhibition activity as you do into organising it?

    And there are many more which will keep Sales and Marketing Managers’ brains active for weeks during planning and budgeting time.

    What will you do as you budget for 2015?

  • About Guest Blogger - Steve Rogan

    Steve Rogan is Managing Director of Pinnacle Consulting, recruitment specialists for the building products sector

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