It was inevitable given the beating that the auto industry has taken – the Detroit Auto Show is expected to be about 20% smaller this year. This is the auto industry’s signature event, but given the belt-tightening going on there will be less glamour and more sobriety (literal and figurative). Among the casualties are Nissan Corp, which has pulled out entirely, leaving US Nissan dealers to rush product in to fill the floor space.But, recognizing the value of the show, most major companies (Nissan aside) are simply scaling back and spending more wisely. For example, GM is eliminating its GM Style fashion show. And in a move that will save it more than $1 million, the Company will opt for carpet in its 120,000 square foot exhibit instead of its traditional wood flooring.
These actions reinforce the advice we give all of our clients in tough times: economize, don’t cancel. We’ve posted before about how to do more with less. It’s not magic and exhibitors sometimes do a better exhibit in the bargain. Still, the urge to purge and cancel your attendance is strong.But before you do that, consider these insights. The trade show and event marketing category routinely posts the highest ROI in the marketing budget. Why? Qualified attendees. Unlike much of the marketing budget that goes to uninterested parties, by definition if someone is at the show or event, they wanted to be there. They’re interested. They want to see what’s new. And these attendees are conditioned to the event and trade show calendar – meaning you have fewer but more valuable opportunities than with traditional marketing. But if you miss them, they’re gone. These are your best prospects and pulling out of a show is short-sighted.
I realize this will seem ironic, but be like GM. Do more with less. Less expensive flooring. Fewer accessories and give-aways. Use your existing displays and get new artwork. Or if you can’t update your artwork, use what you have. You can do a backwall with banner stands if you need to – there are many ways to get creative without really sacrificing any benefits at the show. Don’t cut on critical expenditures – like booth personnel. And don’t make the biggest mistake by pulling out of a show. With some creativity, you’ll have a great event or trade show that will pay dividends as the business economy improves.
Good luck and best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.