CONFERENCES AND EXHIBITIONS: USING LIVE EVENTS TO ACHIEVE FRESH BRAND IMPACT - Brands such as Tango and AT&T are looking to boost sales through a mix of exhibitions, tours and roadshows. It all comes down to wooing customers via a clever combination

Business is booming in the live events industry, which now equals the combined business spend on film, radio, posters and consumer magazines. The figures speak for themselves: the total client spend on exhibitions in 1995 was pounds 1 million and the events industry is estimated to be worth around pounds 1 billion, according to an Incorporated Society of British Advertisers’ survey.

Business is booming in the live events industry, which now equals

the combined business spend on film, radio, posters and consumer

magazines. The figures speak for themselves: the total client spend on

exhibitions in 1995 was pounds 1 million and the events industry is

estimated to be worth around pounds 1 billion, according to an

Incorporated Society of British Advertisers’ survey.



Heightened awareness of exhibitions and conferences as an important part

of the marketing mix has led to its accelerating growth. In 1995, live

events took a greater share of marketing spend than direct mail. And,

according to a report in the ISBA’s survey, companies will increase

their budgets for events and exhibitions. Ask most event organisers why,

and they’ll point to the conference or exhibition’s entertainment

value.



’It’s important to create an entertaining or educational experience,’

Rachel Clare, the head of communications at the marketing consultancy,

In Real Life, an HHCL and Partners subsidiary, says. The agency was

commissioned to work on the Tango campaign and ran a sampling tour last

summer which reached more than half a million people.



The promotion was highly effective, according to In Real Life partner,

Colin Hatfield, with Tango sales increasing during the campaign and

taking longer to fall off compared with its other campaigns. ’With live

events, you have valuable time with potential customers to create an

impact in the way a brand is perceived,’ Hatfield adds.



It’s not just fun and high jinks that make exhibitions and conferences

such an effective marketing tool - it’s what Hatfield describes as the

’two-pronged attack’. He continues: ’The wild and wacky image of the

Tango brand is coupled with a well-thought-out business strategy. There

is a serious message along with the fun.’



Future trends will include the growth of events that are owned by a

brand.



’In this way, you can create and control the entire operation as well as

attract the people you want. For a brand, that is a very appealing

proposition,’ Hatfield says. This is a view shared by Lois Jacobs, the

managing director of the communications company, HP: ICM, who believes

that live events have emotional appeal and can bring a brand to

life.



Live events are not just about attracting a large number of people.

Reaching the relevant audience is paramount. ’The more you can identify

the customer, the more important the event becomes,’ Clive Emmings, the

UK marketing director of Miller Freeman, says. ’In that scenario, it

would be difficult to find anything more efficient at delivering a

particular type of audience.’



The largest networking exhibition in the UK, Miller Freeman’s Network,

regularly delivers around 29,000 people. But quantity isn’t everything,

Emmings says. ’There comes a point where, if you add more people, you

are diluting the quality of the audience that is being delivered.’



The cost effectiveness of exhibitions, conferences and roadshows makes

them an attractive proposition. ’On a cost-per-thousand basis, it is

probably one of the most effective media there is,’ Emmings says. Live

events generate thousands of leads which could ultimately result in

large orders.



Paul Snudden, the director of integration at Saatchi and Saatchi,

concedes that live events are an effective way of getting the focus of a

target audience, but admits that he has doubts about certain types of

shows as well as their efficacy. ’I’m not a great believer in

exhibitions. You are as much marketing to your competitors as you are to

potential customers. Sometimes the event gets in the way of the

product,’ he says.



With brand distinction becoming more difficult to achieve, marketers are

looking towards the roadshow.



Steve Hill, the marketing manager of the exhibition and display company,

Academy Expo, says that by choosing this option, you avoid running

parallel to the competition.



Many event organisers believe that their clients are becoming more

demanding and discerning. The live event is a very expensive medium and

to justify the cost, many clients demand real value for money. As a

result, the remit of the exhibition and conference organiser has

broadened to offer consultative advice before, during and after the

event. The range of services includes stand design and confidential

business research. ’We can advise on the integrated campaign,’ Hill

says, ’and in doing so, establish whether a live event is the best way

to achieve the client’s objective.’



In the past, clients would ask for advice on finding a venue and

lighting.



Now they not only seek ideas on the style of presentation, but also on

new ways of conveying information. A key role for the event organiser is

to listen to the needs of clients and to recommend the most appropriate

media, Page and Moy’s marketing presentations director, Iain Liddiard,

maintains.



Clearly, the growth of conferences and exhibitions is set to

continue.



Some event organisers even believe the industry is now reaching the peak

of its growth. ’The market is certainly healthier than it was five years

ago,’ Liddiard says. ’More people are asking for roadshows and

conferences.



More are wanting to launch their product using the live event. The remit

is broadening as people are seeking a wider range of options. Whatever

it is they want, we need to be ready to provide it.’



THE TANGO CARAVAN



The purpose of this marketing strategy by In Real Life was to gain

greater penetration, more shelf space and more sales of the four Tango

brands. Touring around the UK, meetings took place in the Tango caravan

between the Tango team and the retail buyers. As a result of the caravan

tour, trade sales increased 56.4 per cent on the previous year, with 70

per cent of the target audience prepared to review their shelf-space mix

as a result of the presentation.



AT&T CAPITAL CONFERENCE



Page and Moy Marketing was recruited to stage AT&T’s conference last

year. A venue needed to be found within eight weeks, as well as

accommodation for 200, a core event theme and two gala dinners. The

concept of ’Connect’ was formulated, as the 178 delegates were brought

together from 12 countries.



Simultaneous translation in three languages was available, with the

evening culminating in rock concerts working on the idea of music being

a universal language.



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