In a world that’s ‘always on’, the landscape has shifted for marketers.
Historically, the relationship between a brand and its customers was largely transactional. The lion’s share 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.
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.
While the digital age has been both celebrated and derided, like most things in life, it’s a balance between the positive and the negative. We decry 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 forged 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.
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. 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.
Exhibitions are true marketplaces for businesses to thrive. They are one of the most truly cost-effective marketing channels around and yet, I believe, the most underutilised in core marketing strategy. Our research shows that trade events count for just nine 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.
On 8 June 2016, the world came together for the first-ever Global Exhibitions Day (#GED16) to celebrate the power of exhibitions and their valuable contributions to diverse sectors of the economy, business growth, national prosperity, and, of course, marketing strategy.
At the same time, on 8-9 June, the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) sent a strong message to the world, showcasing its support for the global campaign with a series of events, including its annual high-level business forum – the EEAA 2016 Leaders Forum.
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!
I’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation on social media using #GED16, #powerofexhibitions and @eeaaupdate and tell us your story about how exhibitions have helped to power your marketing success. Or visit The EEAA Website to find out more about the Power of Exhibitions.