Blogger: Stephanie Selesnick, President of International Trade Information, Inc.
I read a LinkedIn blog by former UFI MD Paul Woodward written following the UFI European Seminar last month, and it inspired me to delve deeper into where exhibitions fit in the mindset of our exhibitors.
In spite of what most of us think, our exhibitions and events are not our clients’ whole world. If we’re lucky, our exhibitions and trade fairs are a good-sized blip (week) on their annual sales and marketing radar. So that means, aside from booking space and making travel arrangements to our shows, for 51 weeks of the year, exhibitors are concentrating on whatever is going on in their own industries, selling and manufacturing products, etc.
With so many marketing options – the internet, native advertising, print, direct mail, and social media, exhibitions must focus on increasing relevancy to clients. Here are some questions to ask when evaluating if your budget share will stay on the radar – or will it be lost to something shiny and new?
Where does our event fit into the industry’s sales process?
Sounds crazy, but so many show organizers lose sight of this important fact. Is there a better time of year for your show? Will relocating to a different city, country or venue make it easier for quality buyers to visit your show during their buying season(s).
Are our exhibitions where product launches are still done? If not, why not? What can your organization do to bring back the product launch?
Launches are good barometer of a show’s relevance, regardless of what naysayers think. According to CEIR, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research in the US, the number one reason people attend trade shows are to see what is new. Shows that understand their place in the sales and marketing cycle provide real time opportunities for exhibiting companies to make a big splash, helping their clients be successful. They help the industry stay healthy and grow.
Does our show encourage the industry’s new companies to participate?
Are new companies stuck by themselves in small perimeter stands or is there a special place designated for them – at a lower price (think New Product Pavilion)? Are they highlighted in press releases to trade press? What other special marketing opportunities are you providing (matchmaking) – or are you just offering the same old boring sponsorships?
Are our exhibitions providing something more than a 3D catalog to our exhibitors and visitors?
The Internet is everywhere. Everyone is used to comparison-shopping online for personal items, so, logically it follows they are doing the same thing in business. What else are we bringing to the table besides buyers and sellers under one roof? Unique networking or matchmaking opportunities? Experiences? Amazing education? Industry disruptors and trends?
This is the time to be realistic about our business. If we are not providing the basics, then all of the other bells and whistles are irrelevant. What other kinds of things can your organization do to increase relevancy?