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Having rewritten the book on how to exhibit hard landscaping materials and associated services at GLEE. This year will not see the return of the UK’s leading hard landscaping transformation company, Marshalls plc, at the event.
After stealing the headlines at the last few shows with its innovative Wallace & Grommit-esque ‘Pave-O-Matic’ set with a fully working commercial robot, then following with its inspirational mock TV studio MTTV and mass of interactive displays, Marshalls presence could be somewhat missed at the event.
But why is Marshalls not going to attend? Was it too difficult for the company to out do what had already been done? Gemma Chappell, Domestic Marketing Manager, Marshalls plc, explains:
“No, absolutely not, we already had some great ideas mapped out for 2008. However, throughout the 2007 show we did notice that the footfall seemed much lower than previous years. To try and clarify this we did ask the event organisers for visitor numbers and profiles but unfortunately they did not provide any, which we felt was unusual. So, we took the decision not to attend very shortly after in October 2007.
“I think what we want people to understand is that GLEE is not something we feel we have to exhibit at because we always have, or because we are Marshalls - the market leaders and should be seen there, or because everybody else does it.
“It is essential to us that any event gives a real return for investment; be that brand awareness, additional business or relationship building and we felt GLEE was not delivering anything new across several levels at this time.
“It was clear we were entertaining existing customers and journalists at the show that could be better served by smaller focussed meetings at a venue to suit them.”
This decision was not solely the choice of Marshalls’ marketers but was also made in conjunction with the company’s sales team. Andrew Singleton, Stockist Sales Director, Marshalls plc, continues:
“It was quite marked that many of our customers didn't make the trip to GLEE in 2007 due to work loads, or felt they could utilise this time more effectively to sustain their own business’s development. It was also noticeable that those who did attend requested further discussions away from the show environment, where talks could be conducted in a more open atmosphere. This again raised an interesting question of the viability of us being at the show this year.”
In 2007 Marshalls signed a three year deal to be the principal sponsors of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This has played a significant part in building upon the company’s brand in the UK. This platform not only targets the consumer but has a significant ripple effect for its Registered Installers, contractors and customers, who can see the synergy & benefits that this relationship brings to their business, through a mass audience.
It is also a prestigious event to entertain clients. With the facilities the company is provided it can still hold similar meetings and other bespoke activities such as unique customer, installer and press days. In the two years Marshalls has been doing this it has proved to be a massive success with real tangible results.
The company has also taken a new pioneering direction. Since 2005 Marshalls has opened a number of bespoke Marshalls Gardens & Driveways Display Centres. Situated around the UK it now has nine Centres open seven days a week. These are not only for the consumer but are being used more and more by designers, installers and contractors, who come to see both established and the new ranges that are available. They even bring their clients to show them products in real life settings from drives to patios. The feedback to Marshalls from these visits say it has also helped them to sell up with additional items such as walling, edgings, decorative aggregates and other bespoke features.
The Centres are also manned by a fully briefed professional team that can inform all audiences on the latest developments the company has to offer.
Furthermore, the company has very much been ‘on tour’ throughout the UK. Having made a significant investment in a bespoke hi-tech exhibition trailer, the unit has been constantly out on the road since January. This means it can hold exclusive events for its customers at its sites on their request. It has also been used for training purposes and at various other RHS shows and consumer events.
“Throughout the year we constantly communicate to our target audiences whether it is through our representatives, self generated publications like our Register Newsletter or contribute articles to our distributors’ publications, plus there is our sustained and successful press, web and advertising presence.
“By not attending GLEE this year we are undertaking a far more niche and targeted approach. It makes far more sense to take the new product information to them with a combined sales and marketing approach when it suits their calendar, in a setting where we can cater for one customer’s requirements or area of expertise more openly.
“However, we are not closed to the idea of exhibiting at GLEE again in the future. We will monitor the show this year and make a decision soon after to whether it is something we want to do in 2009. This will also be gauged against the direction we are taking this year, so until then we will just wait and see.
“We do however want to wish GLEE and its exhibitors a successful show in 2008. We fully understand the time, energy & cost that goes in to the event for the organiser and exhibitor alike.”