Julian Agostini: Down with the kids

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Julian Agostini, Mash Media MD, discusses the effect that out of date terms can have on the industry.

 

The other day I was round an old friend’s house and his eldest son breezed in from the pub with a few mates in tow.


They stuck around and had a drink with us, not because we were of any interest or entertaining, but because we had the alcohol.
If, at any point, either my friend or I thought we still had it and were ‘down with the kids’, this was dashed when my mate described something as “awesome” – which brought chuckles from the youth.


When he followed with: “Oh sorry, should I say ‘wicked’?” his son visibly cringed with the type of embarrassment only associated with parents; particularly when our attempts to be current actually demonstrate how out of date we are.


Expressions can grate the most and label you quickly as someone stuck with out of date thinking.


Here’s another for you, ‘ROI’. Used by many a marketer when challenged with the prospect of buying exhibition space, at trade shows at least. Surely this is a thought process stuck in the 90s and wildly out of date with how businesses buy?


Don’t get me wrong, the principle of achieving a return on anything invested is clearly at the heart of all business decisions; it is, perhaps, the very definition of business so obviously any and all decisions made are with ROI ultimately in mind.


But that’s for the board, not for the marketing department, who are themselves an investment that add to the mix, which helps the business achieve a return.


The ROI thrown at exhibition sales people as an objection or perhaps a warning is far more basic in its outlook. This is as simple as, ‘If I spend £5k then I need £15k back in sales or it doesn’t work for us’ …what nonsense.


Sometimes they will couch this in terms of genuine leads but they mean sales.


How often have we heard the moans ‘We got a lot of leads from the show but none of them converted so we won’t be coming back’ or, ‘Yes our stand was very busy but we’ll let you know in a few months whether it’s actually worked for us’?


They are talking about sales and these, unfortunately, no trade can or should ever guarantee.


Nowadays, it is easy for an exhibition organiser to get a full breakdown of the attendees; we can all see exactly who attended the show.


This should be enough for any sensible buyer of exhibition space. If they are targeting a certain type of visitor and you can then prove that this demographic turned up in numbers to your event, then they should be at the exhibition. It should be that simple, but in reality many marketers don’t see that simple equation.


The kicker here is that, ultimately, it’s our fault and we know it. No exhibitor should be allowed to book into the show without the organiser having a full understanding of their objectives for taking part in the show. If it is to quadruple their investment in sales within a few months, then alarm bells should ring.


The only acceptable answer is quantifiable objectives and these should be discussed and agreed by any good exhibition sales person.
ROI is out of date. Get them to agree to ROE (Return On Equity) and then everybody can…chillax. (Urgh!)

Julian Agostini
Posted by Julian Agostini
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