An interview with Founder and Director
by Kay Hare
It is easy to make a profit when you have an excellent product or service, then it is also easy to get carried away with advertising the product and participating in expensive stands at trade shows. One of the shows I decided to invest in was a car show in Monaco. I knew the owners and I thought that it would be good for connections. One of the valuable contacts I met was Natalie Rusey who is a consultant and now the owner of Luxury Business Connections, a company based in Monaco specializing in trade shows and events. Rusey has knowledge of luxury products and knows the trade landscape as well as being realistic with business advice and general foresight of the individuals’ or company’s capacities.
How did you come into the business of Event Marketing?
I always had a calling for traveling and business management. I studied International Trade Management in Paris. As an enthusiastic trainee, I started my career in events management 30 years ago in Thailand. I then relocated to the UK for 25 years where I was a partner in a small IT company. As an entrepreneur of a small company you don’t have a specific role, you learn to multitask and are involved in all the decisions including face to face marketing and choosing where to exhibit, why and how. Five years ago, life suddenly threw me a curveball. I had to re-think my professional path. Owning a holiday villa on the French Riviera for 15 years, I grew to understand many opportunities Monaco offered to businesses wishing to use Professional Events as a gateway or springboard to gain visibility and expand globally. Monaco hosts over 500 professional events a year with International visitors and exhibitors. Visiting the trade shows and seeing first hand the luxury market in Monaco growing over the years, it was a natural progression to associate my passion for international experience and managing business events as an entrepreneur.
What was the main objective driving you to set this business up?
As an entrepreneur starting in the world of Trade Shows and Exhibitions, I learned from my mistakes and by observing others making similar errors. Being a start-up or a small company is difficult, most of the time you don’t have the means to exhibit or employ a marketing agency, but you still have to gain visibility and grow. Helping young or small companies develop and expand without falling into 1000 of pits-falls is my aim. Years can be wasted learning the ins and outs of optimizing your presence during a professional event as well as spending huge amounts of money. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing someone who started with very little achieving as well or if not better than big companies through optimizing their time during professional events.
Should everyone at some point do a Trade show, is it for everyone?
The answer is Yes and No.
Yes, because Trade Shows are for all industries. They are the best and most efficient marketing strategy if done properly. From the introduction of a product or service to a prospective client to the close of a sale, it is on average the quickest, best conversion rate and financially least demanding marketing strategy. Online or traditional marketing strategies usually have greater time spans and financial investments as well as smaller conversion rates. In 44% of cases, events return a 3:1 ROI which is a pretty impressive statistic, especially when that equates to 300% recuperation of the money you invested in your event.
No, because not everyone should or has the means, time, knowledge or manpower to come as an exhibitor. Sometimes it is better and more beneficial to come as a visitor. It might be that the exhibitors are your prospective clients. Attending the sponsored events or conferences offer you opportunities that you would not have if you were behind your stand or it might even be that you want to remain incognito to research the market, check the competition and get inspiration for your services or products. Doing a Trade Show is not all about being an Exhibitor, you can also do a Trade Show as a Visitor.
Stands in Monaco are normally expensive, for someone just starting out how do you measure the results, is it sales? Connections?
You can only measure results if you set yourself an objective first of all and here are a few examples:
- Gathering Sales Leads
- Reinforcing existing relationships
- Meeting other people in the industry
- Launching a new product or marketing message
- Raising company visibility
- Checking the competition
- Learning more about the industry
Once you have your objective, you can determine your ROI (Return On Investment: Event cost versus revenue) or ROO (Return On Objective). The problem with ROI is that they are difficult to calculate precisely. Is a new customer the specific result of a show (they might have seen you or your adverts before)? Sometimes the business generated by trade shows’ leads come so long after the analysis is finished that ROI are not a true reflection of how successful an event was. Because of these difficulties, some companies prefer ROO Return On Objectives.
- Attendee numbers
- Website traffic
- Social media numbers
- Feedback through surveys
- Cost per lead
Do you think Trade Shows are going to keep growing in the future?
Definitely, events are becoming even more important for marketing and promotion. A staggering 83% of B2B marketers invest in events every year. 56% of marketers will increase their event budgets in the coming year, meaning they’ll be spending even more on events in the hope it will increase their returns.
Companies are willing to spend more money on events because over 80% of attendees are decision-makers and 84% of consumers will re-purchase a product promoted at an event they attend. Once the first purchase has been made, the likelihood of repeat purchase is incredibly high. That’s A LOT of return and repeat customers. Beyond the numbers of at-event sales, the chance of repeat customers is absolutely worth the expense.
Repeat customers are the foundation of any company’s success, and with 84% of event attendees re-purchasing your products, it can lead to some serious success.
What, if any secrets can you share with us to preparing a stand?
Start by choosing the right location for you at the Trade Show (do you want to piggy-back next to a well-known stand, do you want to have lots of traffic and have several sides of your stand open to the public…), make sure you have an attractive stand with an interesting activity to educate the prospective clients. Leave the attendees with a promotional item that will be useful to them but relate to your business If you give out food, make sure you do so at specific times otherwise your stand will get messy and crowded with the wrong type of attendees. Lastly, ENGAGE with passers-by. There is nothing worse than investing a lot of money and your sales team is not approachable because they are on their phone, talking with one another or enjoying their lunch.
Are there any other bits of information you can recommend to someone starting out or even a professional?
Always start as a visitor, you will learn so much by observing other exhibitors. You will also learn about the venue, the demographics of the attendees, check the competition, be inspired by other marketing ideas, learn about the industry and be able to network.
Is it the kind of profession that you are always learning and picking up new tips and ideas?
Event Marketing includes several areas such as optimizing your time as a visitor, optimizing your presence as an exhibitor, training your sales team to attract, qualify and follow up with leads. Creating the best public presentation to promote your business and engaging fully during Networking Opportunities is crucial. Each of these areas is evolving constantly and being more and more intricate with technology (Software, Virtual Reality….), Digital Marketing and Social Media.
What is your favorite Trade show?
It would be very difficult to choose one as there are so many world-renowned Trade shows hosted in Monaco such as the Monaco Yacht Show, Top Marques, Luxe-pack, MILP, MICS, AMWC, Chefs World Summit just to name a few. But as I love food and the luxury lifestyle my totally selfish and personal shows would be the Chefs World Summit and the Monaco Yacht Show.
Who and How can you help start-ups and small and medium-sized companies?
Any start-up, small or medium companies that do not have an in-house marketing team can benefit from extra support when preparing for a professional event, as a visitor, exhibiting, speaking at Trade Shows or attending sponsored or Networking events. When I was an entrepreneur, I really would have benefitted with this extra knowledge. It was quite difficult to get proper up to date information without having to pay handsomely for marketing agencies to come in and take over the full project. This is why I have created specific online and seminar courses covering all aspects of event marketing:
- Optimizing your time as a visitor and selling to exhibitors without any exhibition costs
- Optimizing your presence as an exhibitor and making sure you get an above-average ROI
- Engaging fully during Networking events
- Preparing the best public speaking presentation to promote your services or products
- Training your sales team for exhibitions and Trade Shows
I am also available for 1 to 1 consultancy meeting for companies with very specific needs in event marketing.
For more information:
Luxury Business Connections