Exhibitions: are they worth the bother?

Exhibition survey

Adrienne Robins


By Adrienne


Are you responsible for your company or organisation’s B2B exhibitions programme? If so, you’re just the person we’re looking for – because it’s you that holds the key to creating and delivering better event experiences.


When we set up Hanicke Robins Sanderson we knew, from experience, that many B2B exhibitions and events simply didn’t deliver. Not all of them. Don’t get us wrong – some are fantastic. But many leave exhibitors underwhelmed at best.


Anecdotal evidence is great – but we’re living in a big data age. So we set about tracking down the data to prove, once and for all, whether marketing budgets should viably set aside for exhbition space. And if so, what type of exhbition works best.

Exhibition budget

Unsurprisingly that data wasn’t easy to come by. So, we’re developing our own set of data – which, in the spirit of Hanicke Robins Sanderson, we’re happy to share. To create our first dataset we’ve issued a short overview survey.


And that’s where you, my perfect person, comes in. I’d like you to take a couple of minutes (analytics suggest it’ll take you less than 3 minutes to complete) out of your busy day to complete the survey.

Exhibition survey

You can do it anonymously – or you can leave us your details. We don’t mind. But if you do self-identify then we’ll give you some of our creative events thoughts for free as a thank you.


So go on, click here to take the survey and help us all to do exhibitions and events better. It’s a public service really!


Survey closes 5pm 29 February 2016. All respondents leaving details will receive the full survey results. A snapshot of results will be published here in mid March.


If you have any questions, please contact me: adrienne.robins@harosa.com.



Exhibition thank you

Are you brave enough to say “tails” instead of “heads”?

Flipping a coin when it comes to exhibitions

Paul Sanderson Hanicke Robins SandersonBy Paul.


If you flip a coin, you might think you have a 50/50 chance right? Well you might be wrong.


If you attend an exhibition, then you will get leads right? Well you might be wrong on that too.


Most of us will typically say “heads” when asked to flip a coin, and actually, our chances might be slightly better by doing so. Research in 2012 found that things like the way people toss a coin and the weight of the coin, often leads to 51% of tosses landing on heads and 49% on tails.


So that slight advantage exists with heads even if we did not know it to begin with and just went along with what we have always done.


However, the research also found that if you use an American 1 cent coin (also known as a penny), the weighting on the heads side featuring Abraham Lincoln is such that tails is more likely to appear 80% of the time.


Flipping a coin when it comes to exhibitionsWhat appears to have been a 50/50 decision for most people, has turned into an 80/20 decision in favour of tails.


It just shows that even when we are making a simple decision, we need to ensure we have the evidence at hand to make sure we can make the right decision for our business.


I’d recommend making the same evaluation when it comes to your communications strategy. So rather than making a 50/50 punt, can you toss the coin so that it is more like tails on an American penny and therefore more in your favour?


For example, are you sure you are employing the right blend of experience and creativity to raise the profile of your business through PR and marketing?


Would you be better off arranging your own bespoke tightly organised event rather than spending a fortune on an exhibition where you don’t know whether the right people and leads will go to your stand?


Think about it, attending an exhibition means the odds are not in your favour. There is risk that your stand is in the wrong place at the end of a dead end, or that the person with the £1 million contract in their pocket is networking with your competitor because you were talking to a retired bloke who wanted to reminisce. It is also in the interests of the exhibition organiser to get more stands, and that means it dilutes the amount of potential visitors per stand.


Don’t get me wrong, some exhibitions are great, but having been to many, I also know the ones where the tumbleweed is blowing down the aisles and exhibitors look annoyed and frustrated with the time and money they have spent. I visited two of them myself in just November last year.


At a guess, I would say the odds of an exhibition working for you would be less than 50% – maybe even less than 25%.


But what if there was the American penny option, where you knew that if you shout “tails” the odds are massively in your favour?


There is that option, organise your own event with our expertise, and we will ensure that every person networks with you is a potential lead.


We will ensure those leads get quality time with you, so you can show off your business.


So when you are deciding whether to do that exhibition again, maybe it might be better to be brave and shout “tails” and do something where the odds are more in your favour.


I’m dreaming of a Hollywood Christmas – already!

Christmas business planning

Kirsty HanickeBy Kirsty

So here we are nearing the end of November – a time most notable for the specific phenomenon: feeling “Christmassy”.

At this juncture the notion of Christmas is exciting, hopeful and expectant.

From any age I have always dreamt of what I call my “Hollywood” Christmas. Winter’s frosty delights captivating me, all dressed, elf like, in garlands of red and green, singing carols while snow is falling and being nestled by the fire nibbling on Christmas delights and mulled wine.

All this talk of performing makes me want to dust off my tap shoes, stuff a mince pie in my mouth and shuffle off to 42nd Street or the set of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or such like.

Just now, putting on my duffle coat and stepping into the cold air, which still comes as a surprise, is cosy and charming. I almost envisage crystals forming on snow clad trees – yes I’m still dreaming. Santa is on his way, and as I’ve only been a tiny bit naughty and a whole lot nice, wonderful delights will be sitting under my, not yet bought or decorated, tree very soon.

I am currently dreaming about hams, lobsters, chutneys and lots of cheese. Oh go on then some champagne and cocktails won’t go amiss. Though in a few weeks I think that I’ll be praying for 1st January to start my ongoing New Year’s resolution of losing a stone. Oh, must correct myself and say 4th January as it’s rude to start a diet mid-week….

Hyde Park winter wonderland

Talking of New Year’s resolutions….every year starts with regular 10k runs around some London park, mentally patting myself on the back for doing ‘so much exercise’. Starting another one of my health kicks and boring myself senseless  with talk of how this is the latest best thing. I get super organised and fill my diary with plans and activities that I’ve yet to accomplish.

Needless to say, in my mind I’m still in January 2015, which would account for the fact that most of my resolutions continue to be just that – resolutions. The only thing that I ever follow through on is business planning and delivery.

If you haven’t yet got your business and marketing plan in place for 2016 then now is the time to get planning. If you have a plan in place, how much of it includes doing something a bit different? Are you looking for ways to connect with your existing customer base, deploy new tactics to bring on board new clients? Then why don’t you drop us a line as you can see we do things differently.

But for now I’m off to see what’s occurring in my winter wonderland! Ta ta.



Remember, remember the 5th of November

Paul Sanderson Hanicke Robins SandersonBy Paul


I was in California, recently turned 21, and able (legally at least) to have a drink again.


There was a bar in the place I lived, and I was sitting outside on 5 November, enjoying the warm sunshine and a pint with an American mate Chris.


He was a lovely fella, very chatty, quirky, but he could also be a bit crazy.


We got joined by some of the other Brits who were living there too, and we also started to remember, remember, the 5th of November, and we were all thinking of being back home, cold, probably wet and drinking mulled wine.


While we were glad to be in the sunshine, it was one of those days that made us all think of back home.


fireworks“I’ve got some fireworks,” said Chris. “I bought them in Mexico, let’s go and set them off tonight so you guys can celebrate the failed terrorist attempt.”


Now, we should have seen the word Mexico in there as a warning sign, but we weren’t thinking, wrapped up in thoughts of home.


That night, we met up and headed off into the Berkeley Hills to a bit of open ground, and Chris brought his fireworks with him and started lighting them.


They weren’t great fireworks, but we delighted in imagining ourselves back home in Britain.


Suddenly, we saw flashing lights and heard sirens.


“Run!” shouted Chris.


Confused we started running with the police cars close to arriving. We’d had warning so we all got away safely.


Chris hadn’t told us that fireworks were illegal in California due to the risk of forest fires, which is why he had smuggled them in from Mexico.


For us Brits, we could have been arrested, and getting arrested meant being deported, which could have meant our degree studies being messed up.


Fortunately, no harm was done either to us or the California landscape.


Today is 20 years since all that happened, and every 5 November I always think of that day and have a little chuckle. It was fun, it was a little bit naughty, a bit dangerous, and something I will always remember.


In fact, it is the only Bonfire Night I do remember.


Now, I’m not suggesting doing something illegal, but doing something memorable and different is good.


We pride ourselves in coming up with professional, but creative ideas in everything we do. Our business is about doing things that are memorable – and legal!


How aboot something different?

Burns Night

Kirsty HanickeBy Kirsty


Every year, on the 25th January, or there abouts, Scots around the world celebrate Robert Burns (aka Rabbie Burns) life and works and pay tribute to the Scottish culture.


I say this as if I have hosted, or at least attended, many a Burns Night and this could not be further from the truth. I am born and bred Scottish, but in the 20 years I lived north of the border, not once did I go to a Burns Night. I have eaten haggis all of my life, love nothing better than partaking in a spot of Highland dancing – I do a mean sword dance – but I had just never gotten to a Burns Night.

Burns Night


I spent quite some time at university abroad and shattered many a poor foreigners´ assumption that us Scots are all mad, drunkly roam around the Highlands, wearing string vests, eating fried mars bars and everyone is called Mary Doll or Hamish – Rab C Nesbitt has a lot to answer for!


What I am alluding to is that “mair nonsense has been uttered in the name of Robert Burns and oor culture than ony’s, barrin liberty and Christ”. What I mean is that Rabbie Burns was a genius, with an ability to paint beautiful pictures with words, a wonderful command of language and a collector and improver of old Scots songs.


It took a while for me to celebrate the life and work of Burns and my own culture, but when I did, it made it feel all the more special.


The company that I used to work for was looking for a client retention and satisfaction strategy at the tail-end of the year.


If there’s one night in the year to gather all of your nearest and dearest for a hearty feast, with delectable haggis and drams along with rousing verses and ceilidh dancing until the wee hours, it must be Burns Night. And so on a cold January night our clients were enticed and cajoled through the doors for a fun-filled evening where they were to be entertained by their very own service provider.


We had singing, poetry readings, almost a war of words with the toast to the lassies and the retort to the ladies, and our very own mad Scot brandishing their knife whilst addressing the haggis – oh no it was not me! There was even a bagpiper, who moments earlier had had to remove the MD´s sporran from his neck and place it around his waist. The event was a rip-roaring success and for all many were suffering the next morning the Burns Night is still being spoken about fondly.


If you are looking to satisfy and retain your clients and open the door to new ones why not think of doing something that little bit different and personal. A repeat has been asked for many a time but as I have moved on to pastures new, it may be better you drop us a line and see how we can become


New acquaintances


Always brought to mind


New acquaintances never to be forgot


For the sake of auld lang syne!

Why your business shouldn’t be scared at Hallowe’en

Paul yellowBy Paul

As a kid, I remember Hallowe’en involving a washing up bowl filled with water, half a dozen apples and a turnip.


Sometimes it also involved your mum covering you in a bin bag, streaks of toilet roll, and lipstick smeared down your face and then you would be sent into the world to beg for sweets at the home of strangers – after they told you every other day not to take sweets from strangers.


The turnip was used like a pumpkin is now – you carved it into a scary face (which took ages as turnips are quite hard) and put a candle in it.


And the apples, you put them into the water, hurled your face into it and tried to catch an apple in your mouth, while trying to stay alive. I’ve never thought about why you did this, until I looked it up.



Apple-bobbing, or duck-apple as it is known in the north, came about as a way to predict which young person would be next to marry. The first person who caught an apple would be next, and if it was a girl, if she put it under her pillow then she would dream of her future husband.


Not sure it worked, but when you think about it, getting 7- and 8-year olds to predict who will be next to marry is pretty weird!


Anyway, yesterday I was in Liverpool and there was an absolutely huge queue outside a fancy dress shop of people waiting to collect costumes.


And if you go into any supermarket right now, Hallowe’en themed produce is everywhere from sweets, cakes and crisps to cheese and onion pasties (well maybe not the last one).


But there is a lesson here. Hallowe’en never used to be a big deal until it gradually became one, as confectionary manufacturers in particular saw an opportunity to sell more stuff prior to the Christmas run-up. Collectively, they reinforced the message that we should all be celebrating Hallowe’en more, and we all are – hence the queues outside the fancy dress shop.


Is your business taking advantage of all of the opportunities that come its way like those that have captured Hallowe’en? And are you then reinforcing the message about those opportunities?


At Hanicke Robins Sanderson, we can help you develop that strategic message, the one that tells potential and existing customers why they are benefitting from your business and then reinforcing the communications to ensure they remember.


And if you want to arrange a Hallowe’en themed corporate event for 2016, we can do that too!


Don’t be scared, and get in touch with us.

Have you ever been fishing?

Paul yellowBy Paul


I remember as a kid going fishing once.


Another kid invited me, about the same age, one of those holiday friendships where you can’t wait to go and play with them while you are on holiday for two weeks, and then you can’t remember their name two weeks later when you are back playing footy with your normal mates.


So I was sitting there on the banks of a canal in Cornwall, bored out of my mind with him and his grandad, who in retrospect was the spit of John Shuttleworth and even drove an Austin Ambassador.


I had too much energy then, was too into footy and cricket, going to the beach and mucking about in the sea.


Not a lot happened when you were fishing on a canal other than other people walking past.



A few years later, I get it. I get why you might want to sit outside on a nice day, watching the world go by with peace and quiet. Not then though.


The canal went down to the sea, and you could see the commercial fishing boats while you were sat there all day. They knew what they were doing with their massive boats and massive nets. Brave men too.


A few years back, I was at an exhibition and I was manning a stand and it was just like that day on the canal-side when I was a kid.


I was fishing that day too, waiting for the perfect catch – somebody who I could do business with. And I caught a few fish too, so to speak. But while I was talking to them, and wasting my time with the fish that were no good to anybody, some other prime catches were walking on by.


Now I don’t do exhibitions, and I don’t think you should either.


Instead, organise your own event with our help, and invite the people you really want to network with to it too. We can even help you find new fishing grounds that can expand your business opportunity.