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Putting on a show

Posted by Louise Palmer on 16th September 2009

Exhibitions and trade fairs. The ideal opportunity to meet face to face with your target audience? Or a logistical nightmare that just uses up valuable time, effort and expense?

We sat down with three of our clients, each from a different market sector, to harvest their views on the role of the trade fair in today’s marketing mix, the key benefits to getting involved and their top tips on getting them right.

Round table participants:

  • Graham North, Commercial Director, Humax
  • Cliff Guy, Marketing Director, dotDigital Group
  • Sean O’Connell, Head of European Marketing, Kaseya

WF: Why bother to get involved in exhibitions?

GN: We see them primarily as a networking event, giving us with the opportunity to meet up with customers and partners. It’s also a good way to show off our latest products.

CG: I agree with Graham, exhibitions allow us to set up extensive, face-to-face meetings and to demonstrate products.

SOC: For Kaseya, it’s more about generating a buzz, using product launches and conference programmes to demonstrate innovation and market leadership. Lead generation is also an important element.

CG: We also expect any exhibition we get involved in to capture leads for the dotDigital sales team to follow-up. Involvement in seminars and presentations also helps us to raise brand awareness and provide further lead generation channels.

WF: Do you think exhibitions and events are still important?

GN: I think you need to be selective. For us, some key trade shows are important for networking and showing your peers, partners and competitors you are fully involved in the market.  Not being there can quickly send out a negative message to the rest of the industry.

SOC: Exhibitions definitely have their place, but only once all the other marketing disciplines are working well for your organisation. There’s no point spending money on exhibitions if you’re a small company or start-up until you have a good number of customers and can spend the money required to get it right.

WF: What’s your top piece of advice about using exhibitions?

GN: Check out who is attending, from both an exhibitor perspective and also the target customer. If your main competitors are there and your target customers are attending, then you should definitely be there too.

SOC: Don’t expect to come away with “ready to buy” leads. An exhibition should be thought about as part of a long term lead generation and awareness strategy. The people who attend exhibitions tend to be influencers and not buyers, and they generally come to exhibitions to see what is ‘new’. As a result, it’s probably going to be 12 to 18 months before they are in a position to buy.

GN: That can also be the case with the digital TV industry. And going back to Sean’s point about spending money to get it right, I agree that if you can’t afford to do the show well, then you shouldn’t do it at all; a poor display will have the opposite impact to that you want to achieve.

CG: For dotDigital it’s all about being able to measure the impact – as should be the case with any marketing activity.  Make sure you carefully track the return on investment from every event you attend, so you can learn exactly which kind of activity and approach, at which particular events, reaps the best rewards for your business.

picture credit

Louise Palmer

Deftly switching between business and consumer accounts, the focus for Louise remains the same; how can Wildfire tell clients’ stories in a way that is faithful, relevant and engaging? Her wide technology PR experience makes Louise an agile Managing Director, combining the strategic management of PR programmes with a hands-on approach to get under the skin of clients and motivate her teams.