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How exhibiting has taken off again … and why you should exhibit

Yee Group Limited

After what I took to be a period of doldrums in exhibitions, I have noticed a distinct upswing in these events.

There has been a strong resurgence in exhibitions, in both specialist and general events, and in numbers attending.

I believe that the introduction of dedicated events has contributed to their popularity.

Organisers have worked hard to make their exhibitions attractive and inclusive across diverse sectors. You might ask me why I am excited by this new found activity.

I believe it is increasingly reflecting the opportunities presented to exhibitors and to those attending.

There have been some subtle changes. Likewise, there has been a significant improvement in the quality, variety and location of the venues that are now being used, up and down the country.

I am old enough to remember the dank and dismal corners of certain exhibition centres in London. Dark Ages springs to mind.

Visitors soon expected more in the way of comfort and ease of access.

The NEC showed what was possible and within reach.

There have been constant improvements in venues, with smaller ones becoming attractive for discrete events.

For many businesses from SMEs to new Start-Ups, exhibitions provide the perfect marketing opportunity. I know that that sounds like a cliché.

But, I honestly believe that now to be the case.

There were some limitations in the past.

Those have now been solved with new initiatives working well, simultaneously for the exhibitor and the visitor.

I see this as a significant enhancement in offering businesses new opportunities.

Presenting your business to customers can easily take the exact form and style to convey your brand messages.

Whilst the basic structure for an exhibition space and a stand placed on it can remain traditional, there are now futuristic designs and structures that can be exploited. Many are developed by in-house marketing teams.

Why do I see exhibitions as a perfect marketing vehicle today when they had begun to go out of vogue a little?

Talking with Chamber members, it is clear that exhibitions are again providing excellent vehicles for the promotion of brands, products and services.

These activities have been significantly assisted by complementary use of Smart technology, Social Media and enhancements fostered in networking, and interaction with customers.

The combination of the use of these means of communication, and their provision of data and information, has made exhibition participation more attractive to their sales and marketing teams.

Several members have pointed out that they can leap-frog their competition, getting consistently closer to their target markets and to their key customers.

The extension by organisers to embrace knowledge sharing and acquisition has also opened up new opportunities.

Exhibitions offer delegates specialised workshops and seminars on wide ranges of business subjects and topics.

These are often over-subscribed confirming the continuing thirst for knowledge, opportunities to share experience, and to gain up-to-date advice.

By including Awards ceremonies within the structure of their exhibition programmes, organisers have made it possible for industries and sectors to applaud the best companies, latest innovations, and leading employees.

These celebrations of success and achievement also offer exhibitors and delegates opportunities to network and socialise outside of the confines of the exhibition hall.

I see these events as being increasingly important.

I always recommend that Chamber members, if they are not doing so already, should consider making award entries.

Public online voting is becoming more popular in deciding who picks up the awards. Winning finalists and shortlisted businesses are able to gather substantial feedback and learn in detail from their customers how they can continue to improve.

This is a major addition to the Return on Investment from participation in an exhibition. It is no longer a one-way communication channel.

The days of presenting information that customers willingly consume, are long gone. Those businesses which are using exhibitions and the related activities are making significant inroads into new and developing markets.

This closer understanding of customers offers them new opportunities to gain market share at the expense of their competition.

The old adage that you need to be prepared to provide a suitable budget for your exhibition involvement still holds true.

The text book formulae that shows you need to make available eight to 10 times what you spent on your stand space, still applies.

The calculation includes the related expenses for your staff, their time off the road, marketing and sales material, Social Media and Pay Per Click, your stand design, its signage and advertising.

In my book, fully participating in an exhibition has got to be the way to achieve success.

Of course, exhibition organisers are there to help you make the most of your attendance at a show and let’s remember that they can draw on their experience from across all the exhibitions they organise.

I believe that their experience is valuable and worth acting upon, if you are to fully achieve the goals and targets of your participation. For time immemorial exhibitions were about sharing, even if the starting point were the fellow exhibitors on either side of your own stand.

They always appeared friendly and accommodating.

It felt like you had made your first sale. Of course, that really wasn’t the case.

But, your team felt at home after making their introductions.

Now the use of Social Media to share and inform has become a central activity for every exhibitor.

Developing your planned campaign in advance of the opening of the exhibition should be given priority.

The organisers usually offer such channels as providing a vehicle to promote their exhibition. So why not jump on that bandwagon and use its leverage to promote your business, particularly if you are launching a new product or have interesting information to offer?

If you are now inspired to add exhibiting to your annual plans, why not check out suitable events online?

Events at the NEC can be found here and World Trade Shows here.

Simon Chapman is President of the Burton and District Chamber of Commerce and Managing Director of Yee Group Ltd - a leading multi discipline contractor serving the whole of the Midlands region.

Yee Group Ltd celebrated 30 years of engineering excellence in 2015 - a significant milestone for this award winning contractor headquartered in Burton upon Trent.

The company is a multi-discipline contractor offering the services required by the managers of industrial, commercial educational and public premises.

Yee Group Ltd offer a range of specialised services in three broad business streams: SAFETY, SPACE & TAILORED SOLUTIONS.