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September 7, 2008

John Blaskey:Live marketing and the credit crunch

The managing director of The Exhibiting Agency and a leading expert in strategic live marketing lets us in on how exhibiting can work for you during this time of economic uncertainty.

The most prepared and positive brands will take this period as an opportunity to make sure clients and prospective clients know that they are survivors. Moreover they will survive while their competitors cut-price themselves out of business and into bankruptcy. These conditions all dictate the approach of ‘look for real value’ – whether you’re a promoter or a prospect.

So how is live marketing – events, exhibitions, roadshows, seminars, conferences (in fact, all types of ‘extreme networking’) – going to be affected? Well, my experience of previous recessions, having been in the event industry for nearly 35 years, is that we have to work smarter than ever, but if we do we will come out leaner, fitter and healthier.

Add value through research

Live marketing is all powerful – you are after all coming face to face with new prospects in quantity. You can talk to them, but more importantly you can listen to them. Market research is often overlooked as an opportunity at a show – listening and taking note of what customers, prospects and would-be customers really need.

You can also check up on what your competitors are doing. This informs your future activity in real time and accurately. If you really want to exploit the crunch, use this market research to create services that you know will appeal in difficult times. Work out how you can help customers now, making sure their future business, especially post recession, is secure.

Dare to be different

Earlier this year we had a client who was about to pull out of a particular show. We helped with their planning and execution and they ended up with a very different stand and process than in previous years. But they achieved all their objectives, have opened a considerable number of new accounts, and many at the expense of competitors that are struggling and had decided not to exhibit.

However, you do have to be prepared to adopt new approaches. After all, we all know that if you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always had.

John Blaskey is managing director of The Exhibiting Agency.

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