End user shows are a great way for the merchandise industry to talk to a wider audience. Reviewing two of the biggest, Product Media looks at what makes a great show.
Spring is the time for regeneration and new life, so it was appropriate that the BPMA was banging the drum for merchandise at two of the most important marketing events scheduled for the early part of the year.
Two shows aimed at end users have become a valuable complement to the industry’s own trade shows which are aimed at bringing distributors and suppliers together. Both Marketing Week Live and B2B Marketing Expo provide platforms for the industry to speak to a wider audience and raise awareness of the vital role that product media can play in a brand’s plans.
Marketing Week Live was collocated with the Marketing Insight Show at Olympia in March. This was a popular event attended by all levels of marketers. More than 5,500 visitors were keen to update their knowledge and find new products to enhance their marketing opportunities.
The event brought together some of the most respected specialists in the industry all under one roof and aimed to be lively, engaging and informative for visitors.
BPMA introduced its own colourful slant on proceedings with its ‘Bring Your Brand to Life’ message. Director general Gordon Glenister’s session attracted more than 160 listeners and used a branded clothing flash mob of dancers to highlight how merchandise has impact.
The BPMA stand was busy throughout the two days with the Merchandise World award winners creating quite an opportunity to see what new and innovative products were coming into the market.
Spring’s other show, B2B Marketing Expo, claims to be Europe’s biggest marketing event of its kind with more than 7,500 visitors. It ran alongside four other shows – B2C Marketing & Advertising, MTEX, Call & Contact Centre Expo and Sales Innovation Expo. Excel, London hosted this large show, where seminars from 100 speakers ran throughout the day. Keynote speakers included major marketers from LinkedIn, Google, and ITV, to pick out just a few.
The two days were flowing with visitors and the BPMA presence created a real buzz during the show with Bring Your Brand to Life’s cuddly toy chimpanzee mascot, getting a lot of attention. The #namethechimp campaign caused quite a pull to the stand, with Sharon Fox of Price Bailey coming up trumps with the name Buttons.
Gordon Glenister was put in the spotlight by the Marketing Expo filming crew to explain the importance of quality promotional merchandise and what part they play in the marketing mix. He also took the opportunity during his talk on ‘21 Ways to Engage Your Clients Using Merchandise Creatively’ to address the importance of the recycling global crisis that governments are focusing on. This message was reinforced by handing out branded BPMA reusable drinkware bottles to demonstrate how sustainability is a growing trend among promotional products.
End user events such as MWL and B2B Marketing are just one way of getting direct to an audience. Some distributors have found that holding their own events provides a useful platform where they can deal with potential customers, bring suppliers into the fold, and create an event that reflects their company character more effectively.
The Outstanding Promo Show (TOPS) has been run by Outstanding Branding for the past six years on a biannual basis to keep it fresh. Sales and marketing director, Andy Thorne, says the magic to making it work is planning and looking at post show surveys to see what clients want.
“TOPS has its own brand which is recognisable, an incredible venue rather than just another hotel and we go to great lengths to market the show making sure we always have 120 plus quality attendees. We take the investment our supply chain gives us very seriously and work tirelessly to give a good return on it.”
Lisa Munro, managing director, Marke Creative Merchandise agrees that achieving ROI is important when exhibiting. “We establish what our objectives are, whether it is general awareness, how many contacts we make, or conversions to sales, and then three, six and 12 months after the event we evaluate how the show has delivered against our objectives. Every year we compare how each show has performed and then decide which show to commit to the following year.”
Fluid Branding had a big presence at MWL and managed to create an impact with a market stall themed stand that showcased crates of colourful merchandise. Gemma Richards, marketing manager, Fluid says the company also runs its own events as well as other shows. “We do various events across the UK and Europe and I think injecting your brand’s personality into these events is the key.”
Nic Taylor, sales and marketing director, Dowlis Inspired Branding says successful shows, of whatever ilk, are all about getting people through the door, and creating a buzz with pre-show marketing.
“The support of suppliers is essential with attendance, giveaways and a client friendly approach,” she says. “The venue is also key, and an extra ‘non-promo’ activity is always a good pull. The location is also important, I would imagine it’s much easier to draw London clients to a London show rather than clients all over the UK to a region allocation.”
In other words, it’s all about planning perfectly, building excitement, and delivering an experience that visitors can really enjoy on the day. Simple really, isn’t it?