A few lenders recently announced that they may not participate in or take a stand at this year’s Mortgage Business Expo.
Is this the start of a trend whereby financial considerations and justifications play a larger role? Has the good-natured competition about stands finally had its day? Is there value left for lenders or providers at trade fairs?
How do the big industry events compare with smaller regional ones? Are there just too many exhibitors to get decent coverage with target audiences? How will packagers treat these events in future and where do you see yourselves participating? How will you evaluate when to participate and when not?
James Hall: Sales Director, Optoma Broker Solutions
Keeping up with the Joneses is not what we are about. We are individual, independent and different from other packagers and we are proud of it.
We decided not to have a stand at the Mortgage Business Expo 2006 and have not noticed any adverse consequences of that decision.
Originally, the purpose of attending was brand awareness. But after having a prominent stand for two years, where next? Same again? Bigger stand? Smaller stand? Or no stand?
Now we are an established brand, Expo tends to be more of a social occasion for entertaining, which is pleasant but not value for money.
To be or not to be at Expo in the future? We need more flexibility from the organisers to allow interesting ways of having a presence at the event.
We also need to know that this is the best way to spend our money. We don’t want to attend just because everyone else is.
Adrian Dunn: Managing Director, Connect Mortgages
With massive changes taking place in the mortgage market, it seems more traditional methods of marketing such as Expos are becoming antiquated. The big question is whether they are worth attending.
I suggest these events are no longer beneficial, particularly in relation to the cost, due to attendees being predominately one-man bands more interested in collecting promotional merchandise than ideas.
Lenders also seem to have lost their way, foc- ussing on gimmicks rather than adding value to brokers’ businesses.
Lenders should be working with those who can arrange regional meetings for users and have guest speakers from lenders. These events will introd-uce lenders to new brokers and enable the two parties to spend quality time together.
We have just launched a £1m business development programme, which concentrates on finding clients for members.
James Harries: Sales and Marketing Director, Manor Mortgages
We made the decision not to participate in last year’s Expo and we are unlikely to be there in 2007
Speaking from our experience of the previous two shows, it is a commitment in financial and practical terms that we are unable to justify at this time. As for the rest of the market, each company must come to its own conclusion.
Financial factors will of course have an impact, but we find that by using smaller scale events we can spend more time with introducers, learning about their businesses and how we can accommodate their requirements.
All in all, our time and resources can be utilised more productively.
Although we covered our costs at Olympia, we made the decision to find more effective ways of promoting our company.
Trade fairs need to distance themselves from the tyre-kickers if they wish to appeal to the whole industry and offer real value to their clients.
Dudley Aldous: Sales and Marketing Director, Praxis
We see industry exhibitions as a vital aspect of our marketing and business mix. The success of the Mortgage Business Expo last year prompted us to commit to other shows we had not previously considered.
It’s not a case of simply showing at every exhibition. Appearances need to be targeted to business objectives. For example, we have strengthened our team in the North-East and Scotland, where we have had fantastic results.
We are supporting this by appearing at Financial Services Scotland this year.
We have also committed to the Mortgage Business Expo again as it is vital to meet brokers face-to-face. This is the best way to build relationships and having appeared for the past three years, we have found it pays dividends.
Last December, we completed more than double the volume of business compared with the same month in 2005. Our success has been based on relationships built at the exhibition.