20 February 2009

Harsh Realities


The decision by two exhibition organisers to postpone the events they had planned for May says more about the industry they were going to support than about the event organisers themselves.

Personally, I never bought into the argument that exhibitors didn’t like having to choose which show to go to. Manufacturers have always had a choice, and this time many chose not to go to either event.

And that is my main concern. According to the pre-show publicity, both events were sufficiently different from each other that it is difficult to see why one of them was not attractive to just about every KBB supplier that wants to do business in London and the home counties.

As for visitors, it is likely that a large number would have gone to both events. We were not talking about schlepping up to Birmingham and staying in a hotel for the night, but jumping on the Underground and spending half a day in at a show a couple of weeks apart from each other.

Truth be told, the majority of KBB suppliers decided that in these austere times, it could spend its marketing budget in other areas. That’s fine as it goes, as long as it spends the money on marketing, rather than just knocking it off the budget.

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee; an appropriate expression considering what the boss of Starbucks had to say about the UK economy this week. (This is not the first time that ‘week’ and ‘coffee’ has been used in the same sentence as ‘Starbucks’ of course, only the spelling of ‘week’ has changed from the norm.)

Yes, business is tough and it is going to stay that way. But the company that does not market itself is probably the company that will not be around when the good times role again. And roll again they surely will.

If manufacturers want a market to sell to they need to support the market media and its exhibitions. A good PR company can only do so much. If all manufacturers rely on PR alone, there will be no magazines or websites for the PR companies and marketing departments to supply with material.

One of the harsh realities of doing business is that marketing is never free and you cannot be in the ‘success club’ unless you pay your dues.

A supplier may be proficient at keeping its existing customers up-to-date but it cannot match good media at getting its message out industry-wide.

So trim your marketing budget by all means. Do your research. Sort out which magazines and/or websites will deliver the most effective bangs for your limited marketing bucks - because some really are better than others. But don’t turn off the tap completely.

Obviously, I’d like you to spend shed loads of money advertising on kbb News and coming to one (or more) of UBM Live’s exhibitions. But I’d rather you spent it with one of our competitors than not spend money on marketing at all.

At least that way there will be an industry to write about.

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