Exhibitions, do they really work?

Business Expo’s have normally been something that we have stayed away from, due to, not really knowing if the payback is worth the cost and effort involved.

This year though, we thought we’d test and measure them, and here’s the results…

Yesterday, we just completed our 9th and final 1 of the year at Burnley Football Club.

The full list includes 2 in Burnley, 1 in Blackburn, 1 in Preston, 1 in Bolton, 1 in Bury, 1 in Blackpool, 1 in Manchester and 1 in Liverpool. We didn’t just keep it really local, we ventured out a bit too.

But, if we are honest and measure things correctly (not counting yesterday’s, as it’s a bit early to tell) only 2 have produced enough business to at least pay for themselves (Preston & Manchester).

And, as the year has gone on the footfall at these expo’s has dwindled and the majority of attendees seem to be business development represntatives, who are trying to sell to you (not that we are against business development people).

The Burnley one yesterday, was very much the same, dwindling numbers of people who just wanted to sell you something. One of our fellow exhibitors was quite vocal about this, and pointed out that they should have paid out for a stand if they wanted the opportunity to sell to him. And we understand his point of view, but at the same time you never know who these people might know and introduce you to.

Not really sure why this is, could it be that general business exhibitions have been done to death, and people are just feed up of seeing the same businesses and faces?

And before you ask. Yes, we do a rigorous follow up…

Just to exhibit this year, has cost us close to £2,000 and the return in gross profit has been about £1,000 (based on anticipating 12 months spread of business). But to measure this accurately, we need to add people time and expenses, bringing it to a total cost of £3,000, against a gross profit of £1,000.

Now some could argue the exposure alone is worth more than the missing £2,000, and in normal circumstances we may agree. But, based on the fact, that the majority of people who attended these events were business development representatives, with the sole intention of selling you something, on this occasion we can not agree.

The measure is the measure and the facts are the facts. And based on them, we have decided against doing any more general business exhibitions (except for a couple early next year, which we have already paid for) for the time being.

So what do we do instead?

A number of business owners have suggested trying industry specific exhibitions, with a focus on something like boutique hotels or even accountants. It seems these events are few and far between, cost a lot more money to exhibit, but are generally rammed to the rafters with key decision makers.

And this is where we are looking for your help…

Have you ever exhibited at an industry specific exhibition?

And if you have…

What industry?

What did you exhibit?

How many people attended?

What were your financial results?

We know it’s a big ask, but your experience will be greatly appreciated and if we can return the help in any way, we will.

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