The Power of Exhibitions
The countdown to FIT Show 2022 is officially on. With less than five months to go before the return of the glass and glazing industry number one trade show, we chat to FIT Show event director, Nickie West about the power of exhibitions within the marketing mix, and specifically in a post-pandemic world.
GT: Are trade shows just another media form?
Nickie West (NW): I don’t believe that trade shows are just another media form. Yes, you could argue that you aim to sell and trade at an exhibition in the same way that other media forms do. But exhibitions are about more than just selling if you’re an exhibitor, and more than buying if you’re a visitor.
Unlike digital or print media, exhibitions are living and breathing platforms where you can actually see how many people attend, speak to a broad range of customers directly and get a tangible feel for the enthusiasm and excitement from the market for your brand and products.
Visitors make an informed and decisive action to travel to exhibitions – customers are choosing to come and see you, your brand and products. They are highly engaged and visiting with the intent to research or purchase. These are customers who are much further along the sales journey, and therefore highly captive and valuable to your business when in attendance at an exhibition.
Visitors go to shows because they want to be part of their industry’s flagship event. They go to network with their peers, see colleagues and clients past and present. They visit to see what their competitors are doing, to view the latest products and, in a large majority of cases, they go to get out of the office (or off the tools) and to get inspired!
Call me biased, but there really isn’t a more powerful platform to connect and engage with the market in the way that you can do at exhibitions. I’m not saying drop your other channels in favour of exhibitions, it’s called the ‘marketing mix’ for a reason. But I would urge brands to view exhibitions, and indeed FIT Show, as more than a standard media form. After all, tradeshows are the place where the magic really happens, in the flesh, face-to-face with your customers and prospects all under the same roof.
GT: We all know that trade shows can be expensive – what makes them a sound investment?
NW: Above and beyond a brand’s own experience of exhibiting at a successful tradeshow, there are reams of research into the value of exhibitions. Some key stats from a research piece conducted by the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) sum the power of events up nicely.
At FIT Show, we pride ourselves on the level of additional support that we offer our exhibitors to ensure that they get the best possible ROI when they choose to exhibit with us. This extends to our media partners and associations too. I believe that this really sets us apart from other event organisers.
We’ve really invested in our exhibitor platform, which includes our dedicated hub, to provide an interactive resource for our exhibitors to help them turbocharge their campaigns. We have a seamless customer journey that starts from the moment a brand signs up, right through to post-event washup, hand-holding at every step of the way. We help exhibitors to analyse and interrogate the success of the show for themselves.
We also recognise that not all brands have a well-oiled, in-house marketing machine, or their own PR agencies, so FIT Show’s in-house team becomes an extension of their team too. Events such as our exhibitor day, where we bring everyone together to ensure that our campaigns are aligned and on track, combined with our own generous marketing budget, all contribute to our winning formula when it comes to delivering value for exhibitors.
GT: But what’s the point in investing all of that time and money exhibiting, when we can just show up as a visitor?
NW: As well as the numerous marketing benefits of exhibiting, including brand awareness, connecting with the market, gaining insight and feedback, FIT Show is the ideal platform for brands to speak directly to their customers and prospects. The event helps them to better understand the market. It allows them to tackle any issues head on. It’s also an ideal platform to identify potential gaps in the market and opportunities to innovate.
I think we often get caught up in focusing on leads generated or deals done at the show, but FIT Show is a hugely important touchpoint in the customer journey, for the life of that journey. It doesn’t start and end at the event.
For visitors, as well as being able to compare all of the latest products side-by-side – which you simply cannot do anywhere else – FIT Show provides a direct link to manufacturers and the industry experts. Additional features, such as our CPD learning programme and live product demos, help visitors to broaden their knowledge and to upskill with a view to doing better business when they leave the show.
We offer exhibiting options for all levels of budgets, with space available from just £3,300. We’re also exploring new ways to attract entry level brands, perhaps within a pavilion-style space, so that they can grow with the show.
GT: Why will FIT Show 2022 (post pandemic) be a huge success?
NW: People are ready to get back to live events. With no FIT Show since 2019, May 2022 presents the first real opportunity for the market to reconnect, for people to see, touch and play with the latest products, and to get back to doing what we do best, face-to-face.
From an organiser’s perspective, I believe that the three-year hiatus brought about by the pandemic has reminded people of the vital role that live events play within the marketing mix. No other channel delivers in the same way, delighting and engaging all the senses at once. Our audience will be able to connect with every link in the supply chain, all under one roof, at FIT Show ‘22.