How Effective Is Participation in Exhibitions?
Internet is a virtual reality, allowing us to obtain information in a remote mode. An exhibition is quite the contrary, a reality show, in which a participant can be involved to an essentially greater degree. Remember the orthodox church: a spoon of red wine and communion bread, singing of the church chorus, smell of a burning candle and incense, a number of visuals – icons and paintings on the walls and ceiling, an iconostasis in a gold frame, muffled light going from top down, – a touch of a hand of a priest. All the sense organs work.
If the innovative platforms – exhibitions, conferences, symposia – adopt the most valuable experience and the best traditions, the Internet will not replace them. Of course, Internet can be a successful and effective addition to a real innovative platform, but not a full substitute for a direct human dialogue.
Director General of Scientific and Technological
Equipment Co. (SemiTEq trade mark),
Today one cannot deny the growing opportunities provided by Internet communications, as well as a constant growth of their efficiency for many markets and branches. However, owing to the specificity of work in B2B and B2G sectors of economy a real interest to companys’ products and projects can only be provoked at a personal contact with the potential customers and partners.
Our company produces complex ultrahigh vacuum equipment, which in most cases is developed for the customer’s special tasks. That involves a rather long process of discussion of a technical project and various parameters of an order. In our case, with such a long cycle of sales, it is important to have not just formal contacts with the clients, but also personal communications with them, therefore one can hardly overestimate a direct dialogue and meetings at the events. Besides, participation in the branch exhibitions allows us "to hold our hand on the pulse", to monitor a real state of affairs in the branch, to notice trends, and also to estimate a real demand for products.
Already long time ago specialists of our company noticed a decline in efficiency of participation in Russian exhibitions. However, we are inclined to explain this, first of all, not by a replacement of the real platforms with virtual ones, but by a general decrease of the quality of the organizing services, obsolete formats and declining interest of visitors to such events.
Annually we trace all the interesting events in this sphere in Russia and abroad, and take part in the most perspective ones. Undoubtedly, the list of the exhibitions varies, but it is possible to say that lately the Russian exhibitions in the sphere of nano-industry disappoint both representatives of business and visitors.
First of all, this is connected with the general orientation of such events. More and more often we reject large exhibitions in Russia in favor of participation in the targeted conferences, symposia and exhibitions, where the scientists and experts directly interested in the equipment and contacts with our specialists participate. Maintenance of relations, including partnership relations with the potential and already existing clients, is an important part of our company’s strategy.
I believe, by colleagues will agree that we should change the format of the exhibitions and stake on organizing of forums/conferences with an optional participation in exhibitions. Today an exposition itself without presentations or an exchange of opinions between experts becomes a senseless waste of time, because a personal meeting or a targeted thematic forum is much more useful. Although in such conditions the number of contacts will be less, but all of them will be reasonable and productive.
Today the events we are interested in rather complement the exhibitions and not vice-versa. We see an obvious necessity for expansion of the subjects of the forums, so that they would not be limited to the general range of problems of a branch, but, on the contrary, would contain in their programs the most acute questions of each separate segment.
As far as the foreign exhibitions are concerned, here the situation is a little bit different, we have just entered the foreign markets, and, therefore, for us any contacts in the international events are new and useful. We will be able to estimate their efficiency somewhat later.
Assistant Director General for Marketing and PR, ElTech SPb Co.
It would be expedient to start comparison of the efficiency of the Internet platforms and exhibitions with a discussion of the psychology of the consumption of information and its sources. Internet provides opportunity for a quick obtaining of a large quantity of unstructured information. At that, if you are not an expert in the given area, it would be rather difficult for you to assess the quality of the available information, while its topicality is not always clear (most sites offer undated messages), and the primary sources of the published information are not always obvious. For our branch, in which topicality and completeness of data are of primary importance, such drawbacks become rather weighty arguments against Internet. In order to orientate oneself in a huge volume of information sources a consumer is compelled to use retrieval systems. The structure of the search mechanisms already contains a rather important restriction: a search robot should select the information corresponding to a set search algorithm, the code of which is closed. The modern systems are a part of a big business receiving its main income from the advertising traffic. At that, the searchers themselves create the market and establish the game rules in it.
Presently in the first tens of places in the search business we see only recognized information sites (Wiki, sites of professional associations, printing mass-media, etc.), and to a smaller degree – the sites existing for a rather long time and the structurization of which was done by teams of developers and optimizers. At that, the printing mass-media of the branch distribute their materials in the network with at least a one-year delay, which is quite understandable practice, but it influences the information topicality of our subjects in the runet not in the best way.
Today we can talk about a certain crisis of the search principles – the first attempts of the searchers to provide the fullest information were smashed by a wave of "the black" methods for CEO promotion and spam technologies. The development of the market of Internet advertising not only allowed the companies to target their advertising messages, but also gave a boomerang effect – today the new sites, no matter how much information they provide, find it extremely difficult to be visible in the search results. In such a situation the most obvious method for promotion of the young sites is advertising campaign in the network. However the level of confidence in advertising in Russia is one of the lowest in the world: on average for various advertisement carriers it is 3 times lower, than in the world. For the contextual advertising the Russian indicator of trust is less than 15%, and, I believe, that for the B2B market it is even lower. Conclusions: it is not so easy to find really valuable information in the network; and promotion of one’s information in runet is even a greater challenge.
With exhibitions the situation is easier. Exhibitions have always been and will be the sites for gathering of professional and business communities. Their advantage is, first of all, a live dialogue and possibility to generate one’s own opinion on interesting questions, to have a look at and touch interesting object with one’s own hands, to receive certain data for the further study and information analysis. The value and topicality of the information obtained at the exhibitions considerably surpass the opportunities of Internet.
Thus, exhibitions and Internet are different channels for obtaining qualitatively varied information and the question of choice here is determined exclusively by the efficiency of distribution of the resources for promotion of companies or products.
Among other markets the market of innovations is the most dynamic and varying one. Strange as it may seem, Internet is rather conservative for the market of innovations: on one hand, the character of the innovative activity imposes rigid enough restrictions on information disclosure, on the other hand, if you are to bring your information to the market without delays, you will need some kind of PR, for which Internet is only a delivery tool. For ElTech SPb Co. information sites are important, first of all, from the point of view of provision of information about the directions of activity of the company, placing of open information concerning the implemented projects, techniques and algorithms of work, and interaction with a wide range of partners. However we can disclose the nuances, which determine the essence of the company’s activity, only during negotiations, having received the initial parameters of a project. Therefore, for us exhibitions are the priority channel for the company’s promotion. ElTech SPb Co. participates actively in the innovation forums, branch exhibitions and scientific conferences, both in Russia and in foreign countries. For us exhibitions are important, first of all, as the image events, as the communication sites for discussions with the clients and partners.
Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Russian Scientific and Technical Vacuum Society, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the international scientific and technical conference Vacuum Technics, Materials and Technology, D.Sc. Professor
The role and potential of Internet should not be exaggerated. The most important thing is to estimate correctly the information received from various sources. Let us take virtual museums. Yes, they are very interesting, but a beautiful album or a disk with a video film cannot be a substitute for a live impression of a concrete country, a city, or a place. The same refers to exhibitions. Exhibitions provide an opportunity to see a concrete "hardware", to communicate with live people, to pose questions and to get answers.
For the companies working in the sphere of innovations exhibitions are important. The general situation connected with the crisis in the world economy makes even more important the main strategic task – creation of a hi-tech competitive domestic economy focused on a deviation of Russia from an export-raw materials model and on development of the sector of real manufacture.
This is especially important in the period of formation of the sixth technological establishment, the leading role in which will be played by bio- and nanotechnologies, artificial intelligence, global information systems, new medicine and other high technologies.
A new impetus will be given to the defense complex, space technologies, flexible automated productions, development of constructional materials with the set properties, alternative energy sources, and all these directions in this or that way use the achievements of the vacuum science and technologies.
Of course, the investment and business climate should be improved considerably, the innovative component in the activity of the enterprises should be strengthened, the personnel problem should be solved and the international ties should be extended. Exactly with the aim to solve these tasks the international exhibition Vacuum Technics, Materials and Technology has been held in KVTs Sokolniki since 2005. Eight exhibitions were held already, in which the leading foreign and Russian producers of vacuum equipment took part. Among them were representatives of Austria, Belarus, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, China, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, USA, Ukraine, France, Switzerland and Japan.
Main aims of the exhibition are demonstration of the achievements in the field of vacuum technics, materials and technologies and their promotion in the market; establishment of business contacts, attraction of investments; rendering of assistance in formation and realization of the national and regional programs in the given area.
Within the framework of the forum the international scientific-technical conference Vacuum Technics, Materials and Technology was organized. About 400 reports of 600 authors were published in 8 years.
As far as improvement of the efficiency of the exhibitions is concerned, it is difficult to give general recommendations. The exhibitions should have precisely formulated aims, ideas and mottos.
For example, from the very beginning we were guided by a well-known Chinese expression "let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools argue". Today it is possible to ascertain that 300 flowers are blossoming – that is the number of the organizations from Russia and foreign countries which took part in the business program. All these years the exhibition worked under the motto "Vacuum technologies, cryogenic technologies and nano-technologies are the three whales on which the world of high technologies rests". This motto found its direct reflection in the names of the sections of the scientific and technical conference.
Very important is the qualitative and quantitative composition of the visitors. Our exhibition is a specialized one, therefore 2 thousand visitors is a good indicator, with account of the fact that in a year their number increased by 22.5%. The exhibition’s visitors are representatives of the buyers of the vacuum equipment for industry or research works in Moscow, Moscow Region and 39 other regions of Russia. There were also specialists from Belarus, Ukraine and other foreign countries. 90% of the visitors are heads of departments, managers and CEOs, that is, the persons, who take decisions concerning acquisition of this or that kind of equipment.
It is necessary to point out that more than 15% of the visitors identified themselves as experts in the area of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials.
In my opinion, for enhancing of the efficiency of our exhibition the following work appeared to be useful: carrying out of various competitions, for example "For the best innovative product"; rewarding of young scientists for the best reports; rewarding by a medal of Academician S.A.Vekshinsky of the outstanding representatives of science, education and industry; invitation with reports of scientists and experts from the related areas of knowledge; carrying out of specialized seminars; work for development of a uniform terminology, standardization; publications of the results of the exhibition in various specialized magazines; creation and constant updating of the annotated bibliography of the editions on the vacuum technics and technology; attraction to the exhibition and conference of the students from Moscow higher schools, writing by them of abstracts on the results of their visits; dialogues with foreign participants of the exhibition and visiting of the enterprises which they represent; and immortalization of the memories of the late scientists.
Head of Department of Research of Physicomechanical Properties, Technological Institute of Superhard and New Carbon Materials, Ph.D.
For our organization a decrease in the efficiency of participation in the exhibitions is an objective reality. Our products are NanoScan multipurpose measuring complexes for research of the physicomechanical properties of the surfaces of various materials with a nanometric spatial resolution.
Our devices are science-intensive hi-tech equipment intended for the laboratories of the research and educational organizations, and for quality control and monitoring in the industrial conditions. The main advantage of our devices is adaptability to the requirements of concrete users, taking into account their specific measuring problems.
Theoretically, in our case participation in the exhibition is extremely important because it allows the manufacturers and the customers to meet face to face and to see "alive" this or that installation or device, to assess it in operation, and to ask questions. Unfortunately, in practice there are two tendencies which nip this idea in the bud.
One of the tendencies is an increasing number of the exhibitions with related or overlapping subjects. That is, in order to keep the pace in attraction of customers and ensure the effect of presence in the market it is necessary to participate in a great number of events. It turns out a kind of "an arms race".
The second unpleasant tendency is an essential increase of the exhibitions’ costs. Our impression is that these events turn from a platform for business meetings into a platform for making money for the organizers. Otherwise how can one explain that a price for an additional rose or a chair at a stand is measured in tens of thousands of rubles?
Several years ago our institute used to take part in 4 or 5 exhibitions a year. Today we very often reject such a participation in favor of the other ways of promotion and presentation of our technologies, including ones with the use of the opportunities of modern Internet communications. As a result we pay less or comparable money, but get a much higher return. ■