A grand day out proved a winner for Brad

Freshly returned from a big day out at Grand Designs Live at the ExCel in London, I couldn’t help but wonder if, in the age of the Internet, whether big shows in huge venues still work?

It’s the eternal question as the world debates whether we will eventually buy everything online against enjoying a good old fashioned day out and making planned – or even better – spontaneous purchases on the hoof.

From our experience of working with the London and Southampton Boat Shows we know firsthand that staging a compelling event is both enormously expensive and takes a terrific amount of resource and commitment just to make it happen – never mind about it being a roaring success.

Then there’s the argument of pure footfall – and lots of it – against the marketers’ quest to deliver the target audience, and inevitably fewer people. You’d be correct in thinking that the organisers perceive there’s limited value in having loads of people if none of them actually buy things.

If you think about it, a large show or exhibition is nothing more than a pop-up shopping mall which happens to be heavily themed …where the stores are replaced by the exhibition stands or booths and the piped musak is replaced by the signature theme of, in this case, the eponymous Channel 4 programme. The good news is that shopping malls – in the face of strong competition from the Internet –  are showing little signs of slowing down, indeed they continue to deliver great returns.

Only last week I was in Dubai looking around the Dubai Mall, which, with 80 million visitors per annum, loudly proclaims itself as the biggest shopping mall in the world. And, trust me, the scale of everything is truly astonishing.

Which brings me nicely to Grand Designs Live, a heavily themed pop-up shopping mall open over nine days at the ExCel. As Wallace and Gromit would say, we had a Grand Day out, exhausting I admit, but nevertheless a great event.

Admittedly it was the final Sunday rather than the fag end of a random Thursday but nevertheless it was busy with, as we say, positive footfall. I love a good show.

It seems Lee Peck Media’s client Reluxe does too.  Owner Brad Hurter gambled a considerable five figure investment in showing off its latest venture. Reluxe specialises in sea container architecture for both residential and commercial clients. In essence, Reluxe converts the ubiquitous container into an imaginative living or working space.

Brad surveyed his target audience and judged that being at Grand Designs Live would be worth consideration.

Not only would there be honest-to-goodness visitors (potential B2C clientele) but his conversion would also appeal to the B2B audience i.e. the other exhibitors.

Undoubtedly coverage we achieved in The Sun, both on and offline, proved useful.

Brad’s judgement was spot on. “We had a great time,” he said. “I feel my decision was totally vindicated. We had loads of enquiries and 10 positive leads. I have every confidence that we will see a very useful return on investment.”

Where he might have been sceptical Brad is now a convert to the live show.  “Naturally it has to be the right show, but the exposure you get from all quarters is useful. I guess the bottom line is that even in the age of the Internet people still see huge value in seeing and touching a product for themselves. Plus, on the net you’re inevitably, by definition, searching for something. A live show – or indeed shopping – gives you visual and audio stimulation and can create the desire to make a spontaneous purchase. I genuinely believe we should preserve that fairly fundamental human craving at all costs”

As a useful footnote, Brad is already looking at booking up Grand Designs Live at the NEC in Birmingham in October. We look forward to joining him there!

Lee Peck

More blogs