Exhibitions- Are they really worth it?
The irony of getting paid to make an ice sculpture for a stand at Event Show at Earls Court and walking past the very splendid stand of another London ice sculpture company wasn’t lost on me. After all shouldn’t they be owning this show in advance? I must admit to having a small chuckle to myself.
The client of mine knew that ice would attract customers to his stand, he knew it increased his chances of ‘breaking the ice’ (sorry about the cliche but it’s true). He knew that freezing his product and logo in a 20 stone block of ice that was going to be there all day made him and by association, his product, different.
Exhibition stands are expensive, they’re incredibly time consuming, local hotels will load their prices for a room that hasn’t seen a lick of paint for 20 years and for real sceptics they’re simply a reason for a damn good piss up at the after show meetup, but are they good for business?
It got me thinking..
In the age of the internet the power of face to face is and always will be convincing in the eyes of the client. Often we forget this but fundamentally people buy a product from people they can trust and exhibitions provide that stage, a place to show who you are and what you can do. It’s the old town centre market place in a different format
We’d always delivered to exhibitions but was it really worth the cost and the chance that it wasn’t going to work for us?
So here’s how exhibitors had previously used our ice designs to help them.
Case Study, Event Lighting CompanyShowmans Show Newbury.
We provided a fully logoed 2 metre ice bar for an event lighting company within a snow cave setting https://www.showmans-directory.co.uk/ which allowed them to attract visitors into their pod. In their own words ‘our salesmen are good at speaking to people they know, but the icebar brought in new clients and made it so much easier to make new valuable contacts’.
Case Study Spar Exhibition Exter Live Ice Carving.
We were asked to provide entertainment in the form of live ice carving to break up the Day for visitors to this show. We were quite happy to mot only carve ice sculpture stock designs of our own but take requests from exhibitors and carve their logos- as a photo opportunity these went down amazingly well and mixed up the exhibitors which got them chatting to each other as they watched us in action – again we ‘broke the ice’.
Case study: Gardening Show Birmingham NEC
It could be said that the sceptical CEO of a large rose grower was lead by his marketing team who had a problem. They had a new and unknown rose bush that flowered in May but the exhibition was in September.
The solution was for us to freeze the whole bush in flower and then deliver it some months later to the exhibition where it could be displayed perfectly frozen in time.
The CEO was delighted the bush received acclaim and since it was the only exhibit they had on the large stand there was plenty of room for tables and seating.
Case Study Dental show Birmingham NEC, ExCell London
A national dental exhibitor again required an attraction to their stands on multiple occasions and know how the ice creates a talking point and focal area to their stands. The theme is different every time and has included ice sculpture racing cars, ice bars and their own logo carved from our own manufactured ice blocks.
Case Study Cruise ship show ,London Hotel.
The marketing team is king and when they phone up with a few days to go before the show it’s never usually a problem. Getting a ship carved from ice as a vodka luge this time was a novel way of charming exhibition goers and certainly added to the party atmosphere – the room was buzzing, crowded and lubricated- I’ve never seen an exhibition like it.
Incredibly fun work was that one.
So an opportunity arose where finally we were going to be the stars of the show –it was going to be the sales opportunity of a lifetime, an opportunity so vast that if I missed it then I’d be left forever isolated from the business community that supported us as an attraction, bankrupt, homeless, well that’s what the blurb for the exhibition implied in my mind- it had to be true of course since someone had taken the time to carefully tell me they needed our help.
The exhibition in question was #NBE17 at Event City in Manchester and our prep was somewhat laid back. Yes I took the time to attend the pre exhibition meeting which gave invaluable advice, yes I had canvas background posters printed (luckily we’d had some in the freezer as backdrops for some time and they were the perfect size) but in my head it was an easy option to have absolutely no stand plan- just a blank simple space in which we’d add the greatest attraction of all- movement in the form of live ice carving. In short we fell back on the experience we'd gained in knowing what worked for customers we'd supplied at other exhibitions.
It required some decent lighting, a block of ice and some talent with a chainsaw but it worked- there were 2 really busy stands at NBE17 and one of them was ours. Two live carves a day giving us space and time to collate what we'd collected and chat constantly to those interested, it was intense.
Thinking back to that other ice company displaying at Earls Court way back when – they’d lost a sale but no doubt won contracts for the future as we did in Manchester – the irony of their undoubted smile and knowing the exhibition format works, if you get it right, must have lasted for months.