Dissenting from the argument customers are more interested in sustainability is Heineman, who reported she would like to say that “Going Green” has impacted her business, but it really hasn’t. “I haven’t experienced people asking for green,” she said. “People are definitely cutting back on their marketing budgets. Or they’re holding off. They’re saying, ‘We’re waiting for our funding.’”
One final trend being observed in some quarters is one away from traditional trade shows in general. Cathy Campbell, who terms herself a “solutions provider” for Minneapolis-based Graphic Systems, is among observers witnessing this movement.
“You think of a trade show as specific to an industry,” said Campbell, whose nearly 40-year-old company is a nationwide source for wide-format printing aimed at the event and trade show marketplace. “I’ve seen businesses marketing more now to consumers, because people aren’t attending trade shows as much as they did. Businesses aren’t making the investment in trade shows they once did. I think webinars have helped the customer market without frequent trade shows.”
Looking ahead, many appear cautiously optimistic. “It seems to be coming back,” Rezac said of the market. “We’re getting a lot more requests for quotes. And many printers have gone out of business, meaning those who have remained in business get to pick up more work.”
Midler feels challenging times are still ahead, because companies have cut back on the events they attend. Moreover, there is a stigma in attending large trade shows, the type of shows where many displays are used. A number of companies are concerned with not appearing ostentatious in today’s economy, he said.
Still, he’s optimistic. “I do think it is getting better, and as it does, companies are starting to recognize they have to have their marketing presence ready to go, to take advantage of the emerging new business opportunities out there,” Midler said.
Like Midler, Heineman also underscores the need to be prepared for better times. Her advice to print providers interested in beginning to serve customers in this niche is to start small, producing such inexpensive items as small tabletop exhibits.
“Because when the economy does turn around, if you’re out there, you will have an edge over someone just waiting” for it to improve, she argued. “I’m pushing myself to spend more marketing money. There is a need, but it’s being suppressed. I’m optimistic that by the fourth quarter, we’ll see a turnaround. I’m getting positive vibes from my clients they will be adding to their exhibit programs.”