The power on exhibitions!


In a world that’s ‘always on’, the landscape has moved for marketers.

Previously, the relationship between a brand and its customers was largely interactive. Most of the marketing budget went to advertising and the product with the catchiest tag line or most memorable jingle won the day – and ultimately market share. But this has all changed.

It’s no longer about who can stand out with the best advertising campaign; it’s who stands out as a brand worth starting a relationship with. Now, and in the future, true value for both brands and customers will come from engagement – a long-term and enduring relationship that benefits both parties. Think Apple.

We have never had more opportunities to connect. The Internet and social media has helped to break down the barriers of time and distance and literally brought the world – and its people – to our fingertips.

And while the digital age has been celebrated, like most things in life, it’s a balance between the positive and the negative. The growing invasion of work into our personal lives, while at the same time revelling in our ability to converse and share our life’s moments in real-time with those who matter most to us.

Relationships that stand the test of time are based on trust and shared values. They are pushed in our physical world and strengthened and enhanced by our digital world. Digital tools supplement, rather than replace, real personal connections. They enable us to maintain and nurture our relationships on an ongoing basis.

Our business relationships are no different. They too are built on trust and shared values and are strongest when established in-person. Again, technology is the enabler of added value.

In this new world, trade and consumer expos and the exhibits, conferences and activations within them, stand out as ideal channels to establish such relationships. In the words of Seth Godin, ‘If you’re serious about engaging the customer, you realise that the most valuable moments you can have are when the customer is using your product, on the phone with you, actually engaging with you’.

No other marketing channel engages all five senses at once. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) recently found that 98 per cent of young exhibitors see a unique value in trade shows that cannot be fulfilled by other marketing channels.

At a tradeshow, your customers can see, touch, hear, smell and taste what you have to offer. They can speak with someone directly about their experience, ask questions, give you real-time feedback. And, best of all, exhibitions bring your most active prospects and customers to you.

With an average dwell time of five to six hours, visitors to an exhibition have the intent (72 per cent) and the authority to purchase or influence purchasing (83 per cent). There really is no better place than an exhibition to engage with your target market – particularly one this interested and motivated.

Exhibitions are true marketplaces for businesses to thrive. They are one of the truly cost-effective marketing channels around and yet, we  believe, the most underutilised in core marketing strategy. Our research shows that trade events count for just 9 per cent of marketing budgets, but return 23 per cent of business.

The power of exhibitions to drive trade, export and investment opportunities, economic development and employment is well understood. Governments are getting it to varying degrees. Industry gets it. It’s time exhibitions took their rightful place in the marketing mix.

Exhibitions are an ideal place to start a great business relationship and our digital world gives us the tools to sustain and nurture that relationship over time. If engagement is what you’re looking for in your marketing strategy, exhibitions should be a cornerstone of your marketing mix.

We’re ‘always on’. You can start the relationship anytime!

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