More on marketing

Posted: June 15, 2009

The Go Group doesn’t seem to get a great deal of publicity but, as befits its name, it appears to be a forward thinking organisation. It was set up in 1983 to support businesses in Scotland and this month it urged wholesalers to stay positive and start planning for the coming upturn.

The what?

Lesley Meechan, The Go Group’s Deputy Director of Learning and Development explained: “With some forecasts suggesting that the recession will be over by the end of the year, businesses must begin to prepare for the upturn. Those caught lagging behind will not only lose out on opportunities now, but also when confidence returns to the economy.”

I’d love to believe that the recession will indeed be over by the end of the year but even if it’s not, the rest of Lesley Meechan’s quote certainly has merit.

Over the last year I have said several times in ETO that ‘battening down the hatches’ is the worst way for a business to react to a downturn. Of course it makes sense for businesses to cut out unnecessary costs, but that should be true at all times, not just during a recession.

Any business that relies on customers for its income however – which is most of us – should be wary about reducing its marketing spend, and thus its profile in the market. Most businesses have competitors, and a company’s marketing spend should be seen as its defence budget. Even if it does not always bring in new customers, it reassures existing customers that they are doing the right thing by staying with them. It also protects the company’s position in the market, by raising the cost of entry to any new competitors. How much would The Coca-Cola Company save off its bottom line worldwide if it decided to cancel all its marketing for a single week? Probably tens of millions, but it knows that if it did that its competitors would lose no time in filling that vacuum.

The exhibitors at July’s ETO Show are making a commitment both to the market and to their businesses. Not all of them ‘need’ to be there, but they know that if they’re not then whatever business the show generates will go to their competitors who are there.

Many exhibitors will be running special deals and promotions – detailed in the current issue – and any retailer should immediately recognise that the show presents an opportunity that they can profit from.

For retail, the show is not just about saving money though, it’s also about sourcing new suppliers and new product ranges, and many new arrivals on the market will be making their UK debut at the event – also detailed in the current issue.

I hope that any retailers who might be thinking of giving the show a miss this year ‘due to the economy’ will therefore reconsider. If they are not at the show picking up the bargains and adding new ranges to their stock, their competitors will be.

The costs of attending the show are negligible (unlike just about every other trade event in this industry, there’s no charge for entry); the location is easy to get to; it’s open on a Sunday, so there’s minimal disruption to business; and while there might be no such thing as a free lunch, there will be something for nothing there. One exhibitor is giving away a package of goods worth over £200 to retailers who open an account – you don’t even need to place an order to take advantage of this promotion.

If you do visit the show on the Sunday, you might also want to consider having a few beers with us at the ETO Awards, which this year will be in the form of a summer BBQ in the new NEC Forum, right next door to the Pavilion where the ETO Show takes place. Tickets for the BBQ cost just £25 each, which includes food and a welcome drink, and it promises to be a great night.

Further information on the ETO Show can be found at and you can find out more about the summer BBQ at

I hope to see you there.