Importance of Exhibitions

In today’s world, the developments in all sectors and new formations taking place in the market have created an environment where a dense competition takes place. Today, just producing qualified products and releasing it to the market are not enough for success or sales. Because in today’s conditions, the consumers may encounter the same product with different prices and shapes and also have the opportunity to select from a few alternatives of the product or service they need.

Its importance for the participant companies

In the 21st century, there is a dense competition in the whole market and in this competitive environment the power of leadership arousing from the production is replaced by a leadership arousing from the success of marketing and advertising works. Because the fastest, most qualified and lowest cost production method created by a company thanks to the reasons such as the globalization process, fast developments in the information and communication technologies, the wide production opportunities creates a production standard for other companies in a short time; and the difference between companies in terms of production & service quality starts to fade.

In a period when these development and changes are experiences; the companies which can create a different place and value in the minds of consumers can protect their market share and can make a progress. At this point, the marketing and advertising activities carried out by the companies have an important role. In such a market environment; attendance to commercial expertise exhibitions provides important advantages and supports the companies for cooperating their marketing and advertising activities together.

Commercial expertise exhibition is a market where product and service manufacturers & consumers meet in a specific time and place. The exhibition’s having a specific subject gives the participant companies an opportunity to catch the “related demand” in the shortest time and in the most efficient way. Thus, it gives the companies the opportunity to acquire important advantages both in sales and advertisement. In this respect, the exhibitions have advertising scope; mediate for the sales graphics of the participants to increase together with their marketing relations.

Today; one of the most important problems that many companies active in different sectors encounter is that the physical distance between the producers and consumers has increased and these two groups can have limited communication with each other.

Under these circumstances, within the competitive conditions that gradually harden; the companies try both to develop new and qualified technologies and to follow their competitors and also to reach their current and potential customers, try to identify these customers’ demands and expectations and therefore have difficulties in achieving these.

Due to the spatial and temporal distance between them, the companies carry out these activities by methods such as market analysis, market researches that identify consumer demands, advertisement activity measuring researches and thus do not have a physical contact with the customer.

When we look at this issue from this perspective, the importance of the commercial expertise exhibitions for the companies can be clearly seen. Because commercial expertise exhibitions are one of the rare activities that can bring producer and consumers together in today’s market circumstances, involve the purchaser and sales person together and create a mutual and face-to-face relation between these groups. Thanks to expertise exhibitions; the participant companies can communicate with their customers that they work with, have the opportunity to learn the customers’ thoughts about their companies and their products in the first place and can perform their advertising activities directly on their customers without the intervention of any person or mass medium.

By exclusive treatment such as the hospitality shown to the customers that is a key component for the participant company in the exhibition area, taking close interest with these people throughout the exhibition and reserving special rooms in hotels for these people, mutual meetings, the transportation of these customers to the exhibition area and taking care of their special needs; an important progress is made for strengthening the current relations.

Besides its benefits for existing relations, the expertise exhibitions have an importance for encountering new faces. The expertise exhibitions should be regarded as a rare opportunity to draw the visitors that have a high level of interest to the company’s stand.

By attending the commercial expertise exhibitions, the companies cannot only meet their current customers and enhance their business but also can have the opportunity to encounter with potential customers that have the chance to create a connection for business in future.

The expertise exhibitions bring various companies belonging to the sector for which the exhibition is organized together in the exhibition area and provide the opportunity for these companies to share their information regarding the future and to build business partnerships.

Besides providing the opportunity to communicate with other companies in the sector; in the expertise exhibitions, there are professional visitors that work or want to work with that sector and the participant exhibitions have the opportunity to perform the advertisements of their products and services directly to these people.

Potential customers that want to purchase the products and services belonging to the sector in the expertise exhibitions come to the exhibition area for this purpose, on their own and the companies benefit from the expertise exhibitions’ characteristic of “being able to draw the attention of related customer”. As the people who attend the exhibition as visitors want to be informed about the sector, the subjects they are interested in and the services and products shown in the exhibition and as they have the potential to create a business relation in the end; this becomes a huge ease for the participant companies.

The studies performed on the exhibitions show that the expertise exhibitions provide important opportunities for performing marketing researches. For example; if a participant company thinks about releasing a product or service to the market, they can develop an idea on issues such as pricing and distribution by performing a research on the visitors of the expertise exhibition, and also can collect information on basic features and benefits, quality standards the product should have.

Another reason that the exhibition organizations have become a study that is important for the participant companies is that this kind of organizations brings several companies together; thus the companies have the opportunity to “watch their rivals”. In the expertise exhibitions; the companies have a stand in the same area with many of their rivals from the sector, sometimes even in front of or next to their rivals. So they get the chance to observe their rivals. Thus they can perform very important researches for collecting information on the sector such as observing the current status of the rival, following the relations between the rival companies and the customers, their attitude towards customers and their working methods.

At the same time, the expertise exhibitions have an importance in terms of observing the customers of the rival, reaching said customers for various marketing and advertisement activities performed during exhibition, being the organization that provides the chance to communicate with these customers.

The participant companies can have a more successful place than their rivals thanks to well-educated stand personnel, active and successful before & after exhibition advertising works, supportive activities, remarkable exhibition design and carefully managed after-exhibition studies.

Also, as the visitors have the opportunity to compare the participant firms on the exhibition area; there is an important opportunity to highlight the products’ superiority in terms of price, quality and service. There is not another platform where gathering information on the pricing and marketing strategies of the rivals on their new products, listening to and observing the rivals can be performed so easily.

The companies attending exhibition organizations lease booths in order to promote their products and services, and organize all of their activities and studies from here.

These booths leased by the companies are similar to or in other words a small scale copy of the companies’ working areas. The participant companies decorate their booths according to their demands and create a layout for the booth.

Other promotional materials such as furniture, decoration materials, colours, posters, brochures used in this layout contribute to the advertisement of the company.

While the participant companies decorate the booths they lease in the exhibitions organizations they attend; if they can combine and use:

  • Company logo
  • The colours in the logo
  • The other colour and visual components representing the company for the purpose of the company in a proper way; they can make an important progress for introducing company identity to the target customer group and reinforcing this visual identity.

 While companies organize a booth in the exhibition area:

  • The size
  • Decoration
  • The features of materials and furniture used in the booth
  • Manners and costumes of the personnel in charge of the booth
  • Their way of approaching and talking to the customers
  • The features of the products promoted in the exhibition area
  • All other features regarding the presentations, shows and other activities & organizations performed in the exhibition booth may have a huge impact on the current and potential customers visiting the exhibition and may affect the corporate image in a positive or negative way.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this topic; the exhibition organizations give the companies the opportunity to perform face-to-face promotions. However, the opportunity provided to the participant companies by the exhibition should not be limited to face-to-face promotions.

Today, exhibition organizations and the activities performed here are newsworthy and draw the interest of media organizations. Thus several press organizations concentrate on the exhibition area during the exhibition and they give place to news about the exhibition in their publications. If the participant companies perform successful shows, interesting promotional activities in their booths they have the opportunity to take place in the media as news and thus to perform their advertisement in this way.

Except the scientific promotional activities performed by participant companies; the agency or company organizing the exhibition performs several advertising activities. In order to draw visitors to the exhibition area, the organizing firms carry out advertising activities such as advertising in magazines, newspapers and televisions, sending invitations to the people and institutions in the sector, publishing adverts and news about the exhibition in sector publications, giving information about the exhibition organization by benefiting from alternative advertising ways; thus they support the promotional activities of the participating companies and contribute to the creation of a synergic environment.

In a short and long term company planning concept, attending to an exhibition helps the company to make a decision about the future of the company in said market. Besides its benefits that we listed above, exhibition organizations can create important results and acquisitions for the companies in several points such as:

  • Supporting sales activities
  • Identifying new customer groups
  • Increasing profitability
  • Expanding distribution
  • New representatives
  • Finding dealers
  • Evaluating the success of a new product in the market
  • Evaluating the acceptability of the products thought to be presented to the market, developing media relations
  • Developing research and sales activities by information share
  • Evaluating exportation opportunities, etc.

As it is seen clearly, the exhibitions which appear as one of the most effective marketing relations tools in competitive market economies have become one of the most fertile ways of:

  • Creating business networks
  • Carrying out effective advertising
  • Recognizing the market.

It is a widely known fact accepted by all authorities that the companies should benefit from exhibitions together with other marketing and marketing relations activities for preserving or developing their current status in the market and especially the expertise exhibitions will continue to be one of the most important marketing relations activities that the companies perform in the following years.

Although economic crisis is encountered in various areas of the world and accordingly the sector has regressed recently; the study performed by AUMA for 2003-2004 period gives hope for the future in the exhibition sector. The research was performed on 500 German exhibition participants in September 2002 by Emnid Institute and the participants were asked about their expectations for the next 2 years.

It was designated that average annual exhibition budget of the German exhibition participants was 299.000 Euro and the budget had increased by 3% when compared to the previous year, thus this result was evaluated as an encouraging finding. When the value of this budget is compared to the values that the companies reserve for other promoting areas, the importance given for the exhibition budget can be clearly seen. No increase of this percent is observed in the budgets reserved for other areas (printed and visual media etc.).

Its Importance as a Mass Medium

The exhibitions representing a beautiful product of a huge development in the organization, coordination and execution understanding of modern community life continuously develop and change in proportion to the life that continuously changes and develops.

In the direction of this development, the exhibitions make the world countries know each other in terms of:

  • Commercial
  • Economic
  • Socio-cultural ways and provide benefits for them to practising the cooperation in the highest level and has an importance.

The companies that produce a product or a service need to sell said product or service and make profit in order to carry on its life. In today’s conditions, in order to sell the product or services to the related customer groups, it is needed to perform the advertisement of them in an efficient way and reach national and international markets in this way first of all. At this point, the importance and necessity of advertisement, public relations and promotional activities emerge.

The exhibition organizations have become one of the modern communication tools like advertisement, public relations today and they have made a huge progress on giving information to the target audience about the company and company’s marketing components, making the advertisement and strengthening company’s image. While managing this, it also benefits from applications such as advertisement, promotion and public relations.

Its Importance In Terms Of Socio-Cultural Environment It Creates Where It Takes Place

The exhibition organizations create positive results not only for the organizing firms or participant companies but also for the city, area even for the country they are held in.

Since the years when they were first organized, the exhibition organizations contributed highly to the socio-cultural development of the local people.

The exhibitions gain importance for bringing people from:

  • Different regions
  • Countries
  • Cultures together and helping creating a communication between these people and performing cultural sharing among them.

In today’s world, the exhibition organizations seriously freshen up the areas where they are held. Throughout the exhibition period, thanks to the participants and visitors coming from other cities and countries for visiting the exhibition, there is a short-term commercial dynamism and economy is seriously supported in this period.

The obligation of meeting the basic needs of participant and visitors such as accommodation, food & drink etc. in the area where the exhibition is held supports the income of several enterprises in the area.

Also the local community get the opportunity to attend the activities performed during the exhibition period, can attend social and cultural activities.

Its importance in terms of marketing

In today’s market, the behaviour of the customer transformed into a highly variable and complex structure; promotion of a product or service has become as important as that product’s production. In such an environment, it becomes visible that promotion efforts made for said products should be made in a more careful, meticulous and complex way. Because, under the current circumstances of the market, no matter how good and qualified product is produced by a company, if the company does not succeed in promoting that product in a good and accurate way, it cannot succeed in the sector where it carries on its business.

At this point, the integrated marketing communications that a company carries on have a huge importance. Together with the application of communication technics and methods approached within the frame of integrated marketing communications, a single and strong image belonging to the company is created and a synergic effect is acquired.

As it is explained in the previous chapters in detail, there are several different communication methods in integrated marketing communication approach. All these methods have superiority and weaknesses over the others. However; as during integrated marketing communications the focal point is promoting the product and/or services and the company in the best way possible, all these communication methods should be used in a way that they can support each other. At this point, commercial expertise exhibitions constitute a very important part of integrated marketing communications process and help the increase of other communication efforts’ efficiency.

Because of the important features that differentiate commercial expertise exhibitions than the other communication efforts, the use of this tool provides greater acquisitions for the corporations in terms of some dimensions than the other communication methods. For example; as a result of a study that compares the costs of sales oriented calls that provide a mutual communication with the customer like the commercial expertise exhibitions –even if it is not face-to-face – with the costs of face-to-face interviews made in the exhibitions performed between 1980-1984 and 1988 by Trade Show Bureau; it is clearly seen that the exhibitions provide huge advantages in terms of costs.

The results of said study are shown below:

As it is seen in the graphic, while the costs of the calls increase continuously, the costs of the interviews made in the exhibitions increase at first, but start to diminish later. This cost difference arises from the fact that although there is a need of 3 or 4 calls for making a sale in the telephone calls, there is no additional cost for huge numbers of interviews made in the exhibition booth.

Certainly, the cost advantage of the commercial expertise exhibitions is not the only reason that they gained a huge importance in integrated marketing communication process. Commercial expertise exhibitions have different effects on all components forming the integrated marketing communications. Because today commercial expertise exhibitions are not simple concepts where a few products or services are sold, they have become an information and communication source.

When we first approach the issue from the point of product which is the first element of marketing and integrated marketing communication, it is possible to say that the attendance to the commercial expertise exhibitions provides a huge opportunity for testing the product mix and thus the product itself. With this feature, commercial expertise exhibitions provide the opportunity both to promote the products and to observe directly what kind of messages said products give and how these messages are perceived by the consumers.

Commercial expertise exhibitions are also effective as they are organizations that bring the product range of the company and the professional visitors together.

With attendance to the exhibition organization, important opportunities appear for gaining information on:

  • Product quality of the company
  • Product range
  • Brand and
  • Product design on the first hand and for making the necessary arrangements. As it can be seen, commercial expertise exhibitions provide the acquisition of important data entries for using in various decisions that will be taken for the product which is an important issue for successfully applying integrated marketing communication and with this dimension, it contributes to the operability of the process.

By attending commercial expertise exhibitions, it is possible for the company to review its current price policy and define with a new approach.

Because the companies can encounter with differences and innovations that can affect their current price policies and can create new opportunities for themselves in the commercial expertise exhibitions.

The connections made in the commercial expertise exhibitions can result in important steps such as quantity discounts, various special discounts, and difference in price policy. Except these; again happening in the exhibition organizations, as applications unique to exhibition period such as changing payment terms, credit facility; they give the companies the opportunity to make short-term changes without damaging price policy. As it can be seen from these examples, commercial expertise exhibitions are effective on the decisions made on the prices just like the product decisions. Different from the other communication efforts, commercial expertise exhibitions create an effect on the whole process and thus become a more important marketing communication element day by day.

When we approach the issue from the marketing mix and at the same time from distribution perspective which is another element of integrated marketing communication we can say that attendance to commercial expertise exhibitions has a huge importance for the distribution function of the companies; because, expertise exhibitions support issues such as supporting the distribution policies of the companies and expanding their distribution areas.

In commercial expertise exhibitions, the participant companies meet new dealers and distributors and networking with them.

As expertise exhibitions bring various foundations from a specific sector together, they give the companies the opportunity to meet dealers and the producer companies which needs them from different area and distribution areas which cannot be reached by the participant companies on their own.

As it can be understood from the above mentioned facts; expertise exhibitions are primarily communication study on its own. But they are also hugely effective on product-price and distribution factors that constitute the foundation of the integrated marketing communication, contribute to gaining data and parallel to all these, help the promotion of said elements in the same way. Thus exhibitions play an important role in the operability of integrated marketing communications process. The point where attendance to commercial expertise exhibitions are found as a part of marketing and integrated marketing communications is shown in figure 3.2 below.

It differentiates in terms of finding proper solution and expansions for issues such as reconstructing the sales power of the company, finding new seller and sales representatives, searching for new partners for stocking and transportation and its importance in the process increases.

As it is seen, the expertise exhibitions have a different set-up than other marketing communications elements and except promotional activities, the marketing mix has an important effect on the other elements’ functioning and according to the necessities of the campaign carried out, the exhibitions have typical features unique to themselves.

Basically an expertise exhibition is founded on an area where there are thousands of purchasers which can easily increase the demand amount when they are drawn or directed to a booth and with this feature; it plays an important role in the sales process. A person in charge of the exhibition booth of the company can approach to 40-50 purchasers a day which is approximately ten times more than other sales activities. Thus, expertise exhibitions have an important place and importance in the process for providing a dense sales support and giving energy to the integrated marketing communication studies of a company in a specific period.

As it gives more opportunities to convey more messages in a single activity; it is applied more than other several marketing communications elements and thus contributes to the operability and awareness of said communication methods.

Commercial expertise exhibitions add a substantial dimension to the image that is tried to be created for the corporation by integrated marketing communication. Instead of creating an abstract effect as it is in a newspaper ad, advertisement brochures or in other advertisement activities; in expertise exhibitions the product and/or services are taken as a central element, the substantial dimension of the image is supported by displaying the machinery, technology and production systems of the company.

Thus, integrated marketing communication brings continuity to the operability of the process; because, other communication methods used within the frame of integrated marketing communication create an abstract image, the perspective of the company towards its customers is tried to be reflected by messages conveyed regarding the promises made by the company, product and services.

On the other hand, commercial expertise exhibitions present a one-to-one application of this perspective which is tried to be reflected and supports the other communication methods with a substantial dimension. Thanks to this feature, the expertise exhibitions play an important role in leading the integrated marketing communication studies to the conclusion.

In a study carried on in 1997-1999 by Erdos & Morgan Research Company, headquarters of which is in New York the place of exhibitions in all marketing tools was tried to be designated.

In parallel with the developments all around the world, the exhibitions take the 3rd place after advertising and sales development methods in marketing communication tools and in the last 2 years it has made a huge progress by rising from 5 to 3. Exhibitions’ making such a huge progress in such a short time like 2 years also gives hope for the future of the sector. According to research results, tools preferred by the companies are shown below.

One of the entities that bring commercial expertise exhibitions into the forefront in integrated marketing communications is that it plays an important role in company to company and company to customer marketing studies. In other words, commercial expertise exhibitions especially have a huge importance for business markets.

The difference between the buying behaviour in consumer markers and the buying behaviour in business markets starts to take shape. The current and potential costumer number in business market is less than the number in the consumer market. Thus a closer relation between the purchaser and seller emerges. However; as the orders made are much greater than the ones made in consumer market, the loss or gaining a single costumer has a huge impact. Also in business markets where company to company marketing is performed, the buying behaviour has a more rational, economic, objective, advantage and efficiency origin features.

In company to company marketing works, in order to continue the relation with current customers in a healthy way and to convey information to the potential customers about the company; especially personal communication methods are used and it is important to make a one-to-one contact with the customer. At this point, in integrated marketing communications works made in business markets, commercial expertise exhibitions should be defined as personalized and interactive interview and communication way.

The expertise exhibition is a communication way that provides the communication between the parties during company to company marketing studies and especially provides advantages for creating an environment where the comparison between rivals can be performed.

Besides the features mentioned above, commercial expertise exhibitions have an integrated structure in itself. The expertise exhibition brings several different communication method and techniques together within the same organization.

The companies attending expertise exhibitions benefit from the advertisement works; publish their ads about their attendance to the exhibition on newspaper, magazine, TV and outdoors for drawing current and potential customers’ attention first of all. Again in order to reach professional visitors, they benefit from direct mailing, develop their press relations by organizing various press meetings and cocktails for promoting their attendance to the exhibition, as the activities that the company performed on the exhibition organization take place in the press the public relations works are supported this way, the reinforcement of the company’s visual identity is made through elements such as the booth prepared in the exhibition area and its decoration, and the personal sales process is supported by customer interviews made in the exhibition.

In the case of shaping all of the studies mentioned within a proper planning and using them in a supportive way; it is possible to gain synergic energy expected from integrated marketing communication process.

As a result we can say that commercial expertise exhibition is one of the most important elements that increases the efficiency of integrated marketing communication process and will be one of the most used communication ways by the companies in the future.

Source:  MEGEP PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ORGANIZATION SERVICES AREA – EXHIBITIONS (Ankara 2008)