Exhibitions prove their worth in the credit crunch

Quartz Publishing & Exhibitions Ltd - organisers of the UK's leading logistics event, IMHX - believes that the recession is helping trade shows to strengthen their position in the marketer's toolbox.

Says Quartz Managing Director, Paul Michael, "As the doors closed at our other flagship exhibition, The Cleaning Show, in early March, exhibitors were delighted that - despite the gloomy economic outlook - the show had exceeded all their expectations. Most visitors were coming to the show with the specific purpose of finding innovative products or more efficient procedures to save them money, and many orders were placed on the stands."

The Uxbridge-based organiser is equally optimistic about the International Materials Handling Exhibition (IMHX), which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from 16 - 19 November next year. The undisputed leader in UK logistics events, the 45,000m2 show is already over 70% sold, with over 140 exhibitors signed up.

Although the UK economy has an increasingly digital nature, the credit crunch seems to have renewed the commitment of many companies to nurturing customer relationships. "This shift in focus has put exhibitions back at the top of the marketing agenda," explains Paul Michael, "because few promotional activities can rival the power of the face-to-face contact achieved at a trade show."

According to the Association of Event Organisers, there are also a number of other factors working in favour of live events. Perhaps the most important concerns the current buzz-phrase of 'permission marketing'. Unlike TV, radio and magazines which provide 'interruption marketing', exhibitions demonstrate genuine 'permission marketing'. Visitors to shows choose to volunteer their time and attention. They arrive in a learning and buying frame of mind; according to research, 76% of visitors to trade shows have buying responsibility and a third cannot be successfully reached by sellers in their offices because they use exhibitions to make buying decisions.

Another key strength of exhibitions is their inherent live nature. While traditional marketing channels such as TV, press and direct mail are increasingly finding that brands struggle to relate to their target audiences, live events are becoming the Mecca for clients and agencies wanting to give people the opportunity to experience the essence of a brand - using all five senses to communicate the message.

Lastly, exhibitions allow firms to deliver a number of sales and marketing objectives at once - direct sales, database-building, account management, corporate hospitality, market research, recruitment, brand awareness and product demonstration. Says Paul Michael, "Few other marketing activities can deliver so much, making trade shows exceptional value for money for exhibitors. But visitors benefit too. B2B events are a great opportunity for managers to see new products and innovations, compare them immediately with other brands, gain information about what is happening in the market and find solutions to their problems. Only at an exhibition can you do all those things under one roof, in one day."

For further information on exhibiting at IMHX 2010, contact Rob Fisher on 01895 454600 or visit www.imhx.biz