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Portsmouth Dockyard. The Eurotunnel Exhibition, Folkestone.

8. Conferences

In association with annual conferences there is often an exhibition

supported by suppliers which delegates may visit between and after

conference sessions. Some of them are quite small, perhaps arranged in an

ante-room or in the foyer of the hotel, but others are as big as the

conference itself. The larger exhibitions are usually held at venues like

Brighton or Harrogate where there are combined conference and exhibition


Characteristics of exhibitions

Exhibitions are unlike any other forms of advertising and can include

selling direct off-the-stand to visitors. The special characteristics of

exhibitions are summarised in 16-21.

The chief value of an exhibition is that it draws attention to it subject

and so attracts people, often from great distances. Thus the exhibitor has

the opportunity of meeting people he would never meet nor have time to

contact. The message of the exhibition, and often that of individual

exhibitors, spreads far beyond the even itself, and coverage is possible

throughout the appropriate media at home and abroad.

An exhibition requires a lot of time for its preparation, and for manning

the stand. It is essential that the stand is manned by knowledgeable people

capable of answering visitors' questions.

Exhibitions provide opportunities to display prototypes of new products,

and to receive visitors' comments and criticisms.

Confidence, credibility and goodwill can be established by meeting

potential customers face-to-face. This applies to both distributors and


There are ideal opportunities actually to show the product which is more

authentic than describing and illustrating it in advertisements, catalogues

and sales literature. Similarly, sampling provides a good sales promotion


The atmosphere of an exhibition is very congenial, even though a long visit

may be hard on the feet. For many people it is an outing to be enjoyed and

there is an atmosphere of entertainment like going to the circus or the


Using exhibitions

There are many trade papers which give forward dates of exhibitions, the

most complete details appearing in Exhibition Bulletin. Other publications

which announce some exhibition details are British Rate and Data,

Conferences and Exhibitions International and Sales and Marketing


The following points should be borne in mind before booking space in an


(a) Organisers. Is the event organised by a responsible firm? Are they

members of the Association of Exhibition Organisers? Have they run this or

other shows before?

(b) Date. What is the date, is it convenient and does it clash with any

other event?

(c) Venue. Is it a good venue, that is one likely to attract a good

attendance? Is it a convenient one for transporting exhibits to and from?

Some foreign venues may impose transportation and customs problems. Does it

have good transport links? Is there adequate car-parking? Are there nearby


(d) Cost of sites. What is the charge per square metre and are, perhaps,

modestly priced shell schemes available?

(e) Facilities. Are all the necessary facilities available such as water,

gas or electricity, if they are required?

(f) Publicity. How will visitors be attracted?

(g) Build-up and knock-down. Is there adequate time allowed before and

after the show for erection and dismantling of stands?

(h) Public relations. What press office and press visit facilities will

there be?

This is an aspect of exhibitions which is overlooked by many exhibitors. It

pays to co-operate with the exhibition press officer months before the

event. Valuable press, radio and television coverage can be gained from

exhibitions, and this is a valuable bonus. Hundreds of journalists visit

shows, looking for good stories and pictures. They do not carry suitcases

and will shun clumsy press kits packed with irrelevant material.

(i) Associated events. Are there any associated events like a conference or

film/video shows?

(j) Is it justified? Is the cost of designing and constructing a stand,

renting space, printing sales literature, providing hospitality (especially

at a trade show) and taking staff away from their regular work justified?

Has the company something new to show, does it need to meet distributors

and/or customers, must it compete with rival exhibitors? What value may be

anticipated for the money spent—in goodwill or sales, including perhaps the

finding and appointing of new agents or distributors?

In his very useful book, Exhibitions and Conferences from A to Z, (Modina

Press, 1989) Sam Black makes the following comment:

'Exhibitions are visited by people expecting to see actual objects.

Photographs, diagrams and illustrations play an important part in conveying

technical or general information but they should be subsidiary to the three-

dimensional exhibits. People will read quite detailed explanatory copy on

an exhibition stand if it explains an exhibit which has attracted their

curiosity, but isolated panels of text will rarely be read.'


Sponsorship consists of giving monetary or other support to a beneficiary

in order to make it financially viable, sometimes for altruistic reasons,

but usually to gain some advertising, public relations or marketing


The beneficiary could be an organisation or individual. While some sponsors

may simply wish to be philanthropic, this is seldom so today when the

object is more often deliberately commercial.

At present, the bulk of sponsorship money is spent on sport, and while this

support is given mainly to the major sports of motor-racing, horse-racing,

football, cricket, tennis, golf, a number of other sports have become

popular through sponsorship and television coverage, to mention only bowls,

snooker, and darts. For example, Canon were the origional sponsors of the

football League and at the end of their three - year sponsorship, costing f

3mln they were able to boast that there was hardly an office in Britain

which didn't have a Canon machine. The strength of this sponsorship was

that British football is played of many months of the year by 92 teams,

this producing constant media coverage.

What can be sponsored?

a) Books and other publications such as maps.

b) Exhibitions which may be sponsored by trade associations and

professional societies.

c) Education, in the form of grants, bursaries and fellowships.

d) Expeditions, explorations, mountaineering, round-the-world voyages and

other adventures.

e) Sport.

f) The arts such as music, painting, literature and the theatre.

g) Charities, especially by helping them to promote their activities.

The aim of a sponsorship is to gain results associated with the


public relations or marketing strategy.

Advertising objectives:

a) When media advertising a banned. The product may be banned by certain

media, e.g. cigarettes cannot be advertised on British TV, although this

may not apply in other countries. Cigarette manufactures have succeeded in

gaining considerable TV programme coverage by sponsoring cricket, golf and


b) In association with sponsorship, arena advertising in the form of boards

and bunting can be displayed at racecourses, sports stadiums, motor-racing

circuits and other venues so that they are inevitably picked up by the TV

cameras covering the event, apart from being seen by spectators on the


Public relations objective:

Public relations objectives do not seek to advertise in order to persuade

and sell, but aim to develop knowledge and understanding of the

organisation. An important public relations objective may be to create

goodwill towards the company, locally, nationally or internationally. A

large corporation, making big profits, may adopt a social conscience by

donating funds or gifts to society. It might give financial aid to a

library, college, theatre, hospital or medical research fund. When a

foreign company enters export markets, where it may be unknown or greeted

with prejudice or suspicion, sponsorship can help create a friendly

attitude without which it would be impossible to sell.

Very popular is the presenting the awards to journalists for their skill

and knowledge when writing about the sponsor's subject or industry. At to

marketing objectives sponsorship helps to position a product, to support

dealers, to establish a change in marketing policy, to launch a new

product, to establish the product in international markets.

Types of stores

Retailers can be classified by the length and breadth of their product

assortment. Among the most important types are specialty stores, department

stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and superstores.

A specialty store carries a narrow product line with a deep assortment

within that line. Examples include stores selling sporting goods,

furniture, books, electronics, flowers or toys. Today, specialty stores are

flourishing for several reasons. The increasing use of market segmentation,

market targeting, and product specialization has resulted in a greater need

for stores that focus on specific products and segments. And because of

changing consumer life styles and the increasing number of 2-income

households, many consumers have greater incomes but less time to spend

shopping. They are attracted to specialty stores which provide high quality

products, nearly locations, good store hours, excellent service and quick

entry and exit. The shopping centre boom has also contributed to the recent

growth of specialty stores, which occupy 60 to 70% of the total shopping

centre space.

A department store carries a wide variety of product lines-typically

clothing, home furnishing, and household goods. Each line is operated as a

separate department. The first department stores appeared and grew rapidly

through the first half of the century. But after World War II, they began

to lose ground to a growing list of other types of retailers, including

discount stores, specialty stores, and *off-price* retailers.

Department stores are today waging a *comeback war*. Most have opened

suburban stores, and many have added "bargain basements" to meet the

discount threat still others have remodelled their stores or set up

"boutiques" that compete with specialty stores. Many are trying mail order

and telephone selling.

Supermarkets are large, low-cost, low-margin, high-volume, self-service

stores that carry a wide variety of food, laundry, and household products.

Most US supermarkets are owned by supermarket chains like Safeway, Kroger,

A&P, Winn-Dixie & fewel. Chains account for almost 70% of all supermarket

sales. Most supermarkets today are facing slow sales growth because of

proliferation of stores, slower population growth, & the appearance of

innovative competitors such as convenience stores, discount food stores &

superstores. They have also been hit hard by the rapid growth of out-of-

home eating. Thus, supermarkets are looking for new ways to build their

sales. They practice "scrambled merchandising", carrying many non-food

items-beauty aids, toys, house wares, prescriptions, appliances,

videocassettes, sporting goods, garden supplies - hoping to find high -

margin lines to improve profits. Many supermarkets are moving "upscale"

with the market. Retailers are adding such amenities as full-service

seafood departments, "from scratch" bakeries, gourmet prepared foods & in

store restaurants complete with bars, jazz pianists, & wine stewards.

Finally, to attract more customers, large supermarket chains are starting

to customize their stores for individual neighbourhoods. They are tailoring

store size, product assortment, prices & promotions to the economic &

ethnic needs of local markets.

Convenience stores are small store that carry a limited line of high-

turnover convenience goods. Examples include 7-Eleven, Circle K, & Open

Pantry. These stores locate near residential areas & remain open long hours

& seven days a week. Convenience stores charge high prices to make up for

higher operating costs & lower sales volume. But they satisfy an important

consumer need. Consumers use convenience stores for "fill-in" purchases at

off hours or when time is short, & they are willing to pay for the


Superstores are almost twice the size of regular supermarkets & carry a

large assortment of routinely purchased food & non-food items. They offer

such services as laundry, dry cleaning, shoe-repair, check cashing, bill

paying & lunch counters. Because of their wide assortment, superstore

prices are 5 to 6% higher than those of conventional supermarkets. Many

leading chains are moving towards superstores.

Hypermarkets are in size up to about 6 football fields. The hypermarket

combines supermarket, discount & warehouse retailing. It carries more than

routinely purchased goods, also selling furniture, appliances, clothing, &

many other things. The hypermarket offers discount prices & operates like a

warehouse. Customers select items from bulk displays, & the store gives

discounts to customers who carry their own heavy appliances & furniture out

of the store.

Most stores today cluster together to increase their customer pulling power

& to give customers the convenience of on-stop shopping. A shopping centre

is a group or retail businesses planned, developed, owned & managed as a

unit. A regional shopping centre is like a mini downtown. At contains from

40 to 100 store & pulls customers from a wide area.

Public Relations

PR is often confused with advertising, and sometimes wrongly termed

"publicity". PR is wrongly regarded as "free advertising". The two are very

different forms of communication, but advertising is likely to be more

effective if PR is well carried out.

Briefly, PR aims to create understanding through knowledge, it must be

factual, credible and impartial. Advertising has to be persuasive in order

to sell and it may be emotional, dramatic and certainly partial. Thus, a

basic difference is that in order to succeed PR must be unbiased while

advertising has to be biased. PR may be thought to consist only of press

relations, or rather media relations since radio and television are also

involved. Modem PR extends into all the functions of commercial and

noncommercial, public and private organisations. It deals with matters far

removed from marketing and advertising to mention only community, employee,

share holder and political relations. A major area of public relations in

recent years has been the handling of crisis situations such as strikes,

disasters and take over bids. The creation of understanding is best

explained by the "PR transfer process". A company, product or service may

be subject to some negative states as hostility, prejudice, apathy,

ignorance. PR is concerned with changing them into positive attitudes such

as sympathy, acceptance, interest, knowledge. There may be hostility

towards a company because its behaviour has been criticised, a product has

performed badly, a company personality has received bad publicity , the

company is of foreign origin or simply because it is very big. There may

also be hostility towards the industry because it is believed to be

hazardous or endangers the environment. Prejudice is a more difficult

obstacle to overcome, and is usually long-standing and derived from family,

education, ethnic or even geographical influences. Many people are still

prejudiced about flying, holidays abroad, foreign foods, computers, etc.

Disinterest and apathy is very hard to overcome. People tend to be

conservative, set in their ways and unwilling to try new things. They may

be apathetic about things that could benefit them such as banking

insurance, savings, diet, holidays or different kinds of clothes. In a

complex world everyone is ignorant about many things. It is inevitable.

There was a time when most people were ignorant about detergents, air

conditioning, video-cassettes, all of which large number of people take for

granted today. These are all negative attitudes which PR has to change into

positive ones. From what has been described it is seen that PR concerns the

total communications of the total organisation. It is not confined to

marketing nor it is a form of advertising. Nevertheless, advertising can

benefit from PR activity. In fact advertising may well fail because of lack

of PR. PR has its own communication techniques and it can contribute to the

success of advertising just as it can contribute to good management-

employee relations or good financial relations. The chief benefit lies in

the creation of understanding.

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