If You Build It, They Don’t Always Come.

Another angle on the business exhibition.

I recently attended a local business fair in Suffolk. You know the type of thing, local businesses put up a stand and give out some free pens and leaflets in the hope of.. what exactly?

For me personally, these things are a great networking opportunity to talk to lots of new entrepreneurs and find out what is happening in my local business community. Everybody else there is doing the same thing, but the one thing I don’t do any more is put a stand up and ‘exhibit’.

Why you may ask?

Well for me, the business fair stand (or any exhibition stand for that matter), is a fairly old fashioned concept that doesn’t really make much sense any more.

I think there are three main reasons why people pitch their corporate tent at these kind of things. They are in no particular order as they are all equally redundant in my opinion:

  • Ego Marketing
  • B to B Networking Opportunities
  • Sales

The first one speaks for itself – certain business leaders feel they have to be seen at these type of things if they are to be taken seriously, regardless of the kind of business they generate – they often are right to assume this, but it can also be seen as the kind of thinking that leads to expensive TV advertising, often between half-time at a sporting event when everybody is in the toilet or making a cup of tea in the kitchen. It seems like a nice idea at the time but is anybody taking noitice?

The second one does actually work sometimes – it’s worked for me for sure. But I think it works a whole lot better when you are free to walk around talking to everybody at your leisure – unencumbered by a stand and the management that it requires.

Finally we come to sales. If you are looking to achieve some B to B sales you might just achieve that with a nice stand, but you could also achieve just as many without one in my opinion. As for B to C sales, forget it – the public do not attend these things.

So there you have it – that choice is yours. You can either continue to shell out for a static stand at business exhibitions or fly solo and pick and choose your networking on foot.

The choice you have is a little bit like the current 2014 digital marketing landscape. You can either wait around for people to come to you or alternatively reach out and find your customers via great original online content and services. Your call.