On a recent visit to the NEC in Birmingham, we joined a client of ours at the Foodex exhibition which is the ‘the UK show for processing, packaging and logistics’ in the F&D industry. It doesn’t sound as though it’s something to get too excited about does it?!

But having spent a couple of hours there, it became clear that there are some truly innovative companies who’ve created incredible machinery and processes to make the demands of producing food and drink so much easier, quicker and cleaner.

  

Who would have thought that there’s a machine for cleaning food conveyor belts? That another can chop courgettes to a variety of thickness, or yet another that pours vats of jam into the jars which go into our kitchen cupboards? There was more than one company specialising in automated hygienic food packaging, and others supplying ovens, trays, mincers, burger slicers and so on. The range was endless.

Needless to say, the adjoining ‘Food & Drink Expo’ and ‘Farm Shop Deli’ shows were the showstoppers at the NEC. Here one could see, eat and drink the end product. There were Turkish belly-dancers promoting spicy humus, a vast array of gin companies (surprise surprise) offering sample shots, and numerous olives, breads, biscuits and chocolates to be consumed too. There is such a thing as a free lunch after all.

  

What do all these companies large and small have in common? Well, they are clearly blessed with some talented and knowledgeable ideas people, their enthusiasm shows that they have a love for what they do, and even in the relatively serene ‘Foodex’ hall, the exhibitors appeared to be busy with potential buyers. Our own client, Kemtile, who supply hygienic flooring solutions to the dairy and brewing industries (amongst others) ended up with a very promising list of enquiries for follow-up from all over the country.

Whilst exhibiting at a trade or consumer show is perhaps the highlight and biggest opportunity of the year for many of these companies, there is of course the need for continual promotion in the remaining 360 or so days of the year. That’s where marketing and PR, advertising and sales activity really take priority. We call PR a ‘drumbeat’: The continual reminder to potential buyers that a great product or service would benefit their business and drive profitability. This may be through a social media campaign, positive trade or sector coverage, case studies and testimonial programmes, product/service launch events, brochures or award entries.

That’s where we come into it. Success is not just based on a well-attended trade show. It’s reliant on sustained, strategically managed year-round activity to drive awareness, sales and growth.