25th August 2009
A recent study by Benchmark Research for the Association of Event Organisers found that 37 per cent of businesses believe exhibitions and trade shows are the best method of building relationships with clients.
Perhaps this is why exhibition stand designer Envisage has continued to see success during the recession, despite reports of marketing cutbacks.
Chris Cotterill, creative director of the company, reveals that the level of incoming enquiries has remained consistent before and during the downturn.
He puts this down to the broad sector of industries that Envisage serves, which includes those which have perhaps not been as hard hit as some sectors. Pharmaceutical firms have proved particularly good customers for the business.
"Just a couple of years ago we made quite a push to get more into that sort of work and I'd say probably over half of the stands we build are for those kind of companies in the medical sector," he says.
While clients in the home building and renovation and hospitality sectors have become more cautious in their approach to marketing, medical firms have continued their exhibition presence.
"We've been fairly lucky in that other clients have decided to push on regardless," Mr Cotterill explains. "We had a client last week who said that their main competition had pulled out of the show, so it was their opportunity to really make a statement."
Although firms often follow suit and cancel trade shows when their competitors have pulled out in order to save money, Mr Cotterill believes that those businesses that continue to invest in exhibitions will be best-placed beyond the recession.
"It gives them a chance of improving their market share," he insists.
His firm has also recognised the need to adapt marketing strategies in order to maintain business with current clients and attract new custom.
"We pulled out of telesales altogether last year," Mr Cotterill explains.
"All our enquiries, perhaps four or five years ago, were coming through telesales, but we've just stopped that activity and are concentrating on other methods, especially internet marketing."
Now all new clients are coming via the web, while the firm is also trying to build on relationships with existing customers by looking at different products and services they can offer them.
"We've got an online gallery of things we've done which acts like a brochure. The advantage of having it on the web is that you're not ringing people and trying to send brochures to them, they can go online and see what you do," he explains, adding that this is also more cost-effective.
Although it has mainly focused on custom-made systems in the past, Envisage is now moving into the exhibition hire business as well, offering modular stands, as it has found the many customers are looking to rent rather than buy in order to save money.
"At the moment we're in the process of building a part of the website where people can rent items to build up a stand.
"It's a bit of a cost saving there for people and there's an environmental benefit of it as well," he concludes.