trade and industrial exhibitions

I spent an interesting and pleasant day at the Engineering Design Show yesterday reflecting on the state of UK manufacturing industry and the way that this show has grown so quickly from just one hall at the Ricoh Arena to now 3 halls. A scaled down version of the big and very expensive multi hall shows of a few years ago – are we then in that part of the exhibitions cycle where British industry is doing well – and it seems it is – that we are again prepared to spend more on this face to face activity?

Or has our understanding changed over difficult times enabling us to have a broader perspective and understanding of promotions – there is after all so much more available at reasonable cost than there was even 10 years ago? Perhaps exhibitions have really been re-invented in a strong niche format with a new character relevant to the internet age – I believe so and wish the organisers the best of luck.


I was chatting to a colleague the other day when we started to think of the comparison between the personal presence of an exhibition and the way that the apparently more diffuse world of online marketing works, and thought it worth sharing.

It went like this:

Imagine that your website is your exhibition stand ( and your catalogue and your technical data sheets  all rolled up into one ) and that at an exhibition your stand personnel talk to people that appear – this equates to sales enquiries – but they also spend a lot of time going out around the exhibition talking to people they meet in the aisles, on stands, in the cafes etc – plus they will have already spent a fair bit of time before the show going round their customer base and prospects inviting them to visit you on the exhibition stand. Not only that but these people will often carry some sales material or a presentation eg on a tablet with which to encourage prospects to make that extra move to visit your stand so they can see the range you have on display and engage in discussion that takes them one step closer to making a purchasing decision.

So isn’t online marketing exactly the same process – with a few small twists – your website ( exhibition stand ) is where you would like to refer visitors – your press releases, directory entries, social media posts and videos are like your sales personnel going out to meet customers and prospects. The first small twist comes that your sales people do not have to go out cold – when they do go out to visit a prospect they have all the ground work done already and are in a great position to provide the personal touch, the physical demonstration and discuss the deal. Oh yes and the second small twist – a show only works for 2 or 3 days a year – online marketing works 24/7.

I am not seeking to denegrate  exhibitions which still perform a very valuable role – especially the specialised ones – but I am suggesting that it is quite easy to understand online marketing in sales terms and that it would be a mistake to have a sales team without  an online marketing program to support them.

Give me a call on 01462 850040 or e-mail – I’d be delighted to chat.

I really welcome the announcement received today of the new Machine Building Show at the NEC in September – following so soon after the success of the Engineering Design show – and the announcement of the Engineering Subcontractor Exhibition which is eagerly awaited  in April from the NewbyCom stable – home of the also successful FAST exhibition – all this following the success of last years Mediplas. So this year I am again looking forward of course to Southern Manufacturing which has a record of doing well.

The flowering of all this exhibition ferver surely indicates a build up of pressure for companies to grow in our UK manufacturing industry, that is not fully recognised in the tabloid press – not to mention the huge amount of innovation and expertise that fuels this confidence to grow.

Well lets think about this logically –
1. How much did you/would you spend on a brochure/literature? – £10K per year? £20K? £30K? More?
2. How much do you spend on a sales rep including salary, car, expenses? £50K per year? £60K? More?
3. How much did you/would you spend on a national exhibition? A shell scheme for £10K? A space only site at £100K – plus, plus, plus?

Now if you have a website then you don’t need a brochure – and if you think that you do for customers that do not like the internet ( we are talking about technology company customers, but there are some who don’t get on with computers ) then you can easily print one from your website – and the website should at least be up to date, unlike a brochure or manual which goes out of date the day before it is printed!

Well your website and blog are not sales people but they do manage to do a whole lot of things that sales people do – and they do it 24/7/365 – coupled to PR reaching a couple of hundred or more publications and Social Media reaching hundreds or thousands of customers and prospects, they do a lot lot more than your best people ever could on their own. 

And with the right approach to photography, graphic illustrations and video demonstrations your website and blog can between them do most of what you normally achieve at an exhibition – with the exception of shaking the customers hand and offering a drink.

Don’t get me wrong the personal touch is very important – I have personally sold £1M pa on commission and know well that people still buy from people – and I’ve yet to meet a website that can negotiate, research a client application or respond to a customers emergency problem – but let’s understand the sales function is expensive and lets get things in proportion – your other marketing/sales/promotion tools should have a budget in proportion to their value.

So now – how much should you spend on your web/blog sites?
Are you spending £10Kpa – roughly the  minimum cost of a catalogue?
Are you spending £50Kpa – the minimum cost of sales rep?
Or are you spending £100K plus?

The internet and our ability to use websites to substitute for these other sales tools has enabled businesses around the world to hugely cut costs, survive, protect profits and to do much more with less resources – but you should still be spending appropriately and not penny pinching on these valuable internet based tools.

So how much are you spending on your website/blog – enough?

What is PR?

The creation of easily digested information regarding products and services. By presenting genuine information in a quickly assimilated way we are helping engineers to stay up-to date with developments and trends so that they can quickly solve problems in design or production. This presents a wider profile of possibilities and helps optimise the innovation cycle. […]

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