The first thing you noticed about UK Construction Week (after the sheer size of the event) was the positive buzz around the state of the market and the industry. It’s clear there are bigger budgets and there’s more confidence to spend; there’s less talk and more action.
As a result, there were lots of interesting discussions at the show, and some key themes emerged – about what the future holds and about what makes this type of exhibition a success.
1. There’s spectacular creativity in the industry
The construction industry is notoriously slow to adopt innovation. When you think about it, many of what we refer to as ‘modern methods of construction’ are more than 10 years old, and take-up is far from ubiquitous.
However, there are seriously creative developments in the pipeline, for example around smart homes and building. My favourite was 3D printing of housing – the implications, for instance around rebuilding following natural disasters, are staggering.
2. Too many exhibitors turn up without a strategy
It was worrying to see that many exhibitors appeared to have no clear message they wanted to communicate. It seemed to us that they had booked a space to fit the same stand they’ve been using for years, and were attending to see and be seen at a major industry event. We saw too many companies that didn’t have much of a hook and weren’t actively attracting delegates to their stand. When I see companies like these, it’s generally safe to assume that they haven’t done much in the way of pre-show marketing and they have no substantive list of people they want to talk to.
When you take this approach you don’t maximise the opportunity your investment is designed to create, and when you add up all the costs of attendance that translates to substantial waste in financial terms.
3. You need a hook to draw people to your stand
At a show like this – huge, with hundreds of exhibitors – you need to attract attendees in some way. Simply turning up and expecting people to stop by won’t translate to success.
The most popular stands had a hook but with a practical focus. For example, in the timber zone a tool company was giving demonstrations on the stand, cutting timber and showing visitors how to use the tools.
We had very high footfall in large part because we formed a consortium with 3 other construction industry sales and marketing specialists. We shared a stand as Construction Marketing Excellence, and were a hub where delegates could get advice on the complete marketing and sales lifecycle. We all had a more successful show as a result of our collaboration and the added value we offered delegates.
4. Post-show follow-up is crucial given the delegate profile
Not following up after the show is a big missed opportunity because of the lengthy sales cycles for many of the products and services on show.
For most of the products and services exhibiting, UK Construction Week is one touchpoint in a 6-month+ sales process that requires ongoing nurturing of contacts. The event was much more about education and networking than finding a solution for a current specification or project.
Thus, without follow-up – post-show and regularly thereafter – you’re unlikely to see actual sales coming from them.
Use your contacts to build a robust pipeline
Exhibitions are only worthwhile if you use them to engage with decision makers and influencers involved in the selection, specification and procurement of your product or service.
If you’d like more tips on nurturing a robust pipeline of work, read our free guide, ‘Steps to Building a Strong Sales Pipeline for the Short, Medium and Long Term’.