One of the biggest question marks is should we also be exhibiting in Frankfurt? Or Barcelona in November? It is safe to say our exhibition strategy is, without doubt, one of the parts of our Business Plan that gives me the most headaches. It is an area that we allocate considerable money to, but with more and more tradeshows crowding the market place there are some difficult decisions to be made.
If you turned the clock back four years I would have said that anything other than a domestic-based show, targeting a domestic audience, would have been an unnecessary extravagance for Church House. At the time we were in a comfort zone that said: “We know our business and our business knows us”. Boy have things changed over the last four years! Many of our clients are now new and from further afield, so shouldn’t our exhibition strategy follow the same pattern?
The obvious question has got to be “Do exhibitions still give us a ROI?”. The answer to that is a definite yes, the right ones do. With a strong follow-up strategy the ROI of an exhibition can be measured, the main issue however is whether or not to take the plunge as testing a new show can be an expensive experiment. So far this year we have dipped our toes into the BNC Global Event Show at The Brewery and were extremely happy with the results. We have also signed up for The Meetings Show UK at Olympia in July and in 2014 our Business Plan now tentatively contains two overseas shows, to reflect the growing number of international events being held at Church House.
So where is all that extra money coming from I hear you all ask? There will probably be some shuffling of the pack, with the ROI of each show we currently exhibit at being assessed and in some cases dropped. There are also many other areas of our marketing budget that over the last few years we have been able to economise on, but that is another story, and one I will happily tell in the future.
For this blog my conclusion is that exhibitions are still very much a key part of a venue’s marketing strategy, providing essential face-to-face opportunities with buyers, however there is a definite change in the market place and we should all take a very careful look where we spend those valuable marketing pounds.
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