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New management team at Forum Events

Forum Events – the company behind the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit and eTailing Summit – has a new management team to take the business forward.

Longtime Managing Director Sarah Beall (pictured) has joined the Board of Directors, sitting alongside Finance & Operations Director, Gill McCaughay, and New Business Director, Gill Woods.

Erstwhile Chairman Paul Rowney – who founded the company with McCaughay and Woods in 1997 – has retired from the business.

The news comes following a period of significant growth for Forum Events, and as it looks ahead to further expansion in 2018 and beyond. New events and initiatives are in the pipeline for this year and the company is currently bolstering its 70+ staff count.

“Sarah has contributed significantly to the growth of the business, so we’re delighted to welcome her to the Board,” said McCaughay.

Beall added: “Forum Events is positioned to expand further this year and beyond, with new events and new initiatives in the pipeline. It’s an exciting time to be joining the Board and helping to steer the business onwards and upwards.”

Forum Events pioneered the unique concept of face-to-face meetings events, based on matching the interests of procurement decision-makers with suppliers.

The event format brings companies together at ‘Forums’ and ‘Summits’ – bespoke events tailored to satisfy the needs of specific industry sectors.

Over the past 21 years the company has hosted over 500 events, attended by over 70,000 delegates, resulting in over 750,000 new business relationships.

In addition, Forum Events’ media division includes:

  • PA Life – The UK’s leading and award-winning media hub for savvy Personal and Executive Assistants. The portfolio includes a bi-monthly magazine, website, weekly newsletter, plus a series of live events.
  • Hotel Designs – A leading industry resource aimed directly at hoteliers, designers and architects from across the globe. The website and weekly newsletter is complemented by a series of networking and business-building events.
  • The Briefing Portfolio – Daily online Briefing content and fortnightly email newsletters for a number of sectors including FM, Care, Retail, Cyber Security, Call Centres, HR, Digital Marketing and Education.

For more information, visit www.forumevents.co.uk.

Forum Insight: 10 ways to succeed at networking events…

Walking into an event room full of people you don’t know can be a scary experience. However, there are proven ways to conquer this fear and make networking an enjoyable and a useful process to do business. Here, we share 10 of the best practices to eradicate those networking nerves.

  1. Plan ahead: Try to obtain the attendee list in advance and highlight the people you would like to meet. On arrival, contact the event organiser and say who you are trying to connect with. If they get the chance, an introduction between yourself and the other party will be made upon arrival. It might also be beneficial to go to the registration area to ask if one of your selected visitors has arrived.
  1. Get there early: If you are one of the first to arrive, it is much easier to strike up a conversation with a small group of people.
  1. Most people are in the same position: If you do not know anyone else attending, it’s good to prepare a few opening questions: ‘Any particular presentation you’re looking forward to hearing today?’; ‘What brought you to this event?’
  1. Join a group: Approaching a group of attendees already in full conversation is a daunting prospect. So be bold, confident, and simply ask: “May I join the conversation? I’ve just arrived and I’m keen to learn what’s going on.”
  1. Build interesting conversation: Ask topical and relevant questions to the specific event. Be a good listener and don’t dominate the conversation with your own stories and business ideas.
  1. Be helpful: Share your knowledge of the industry, your contacts and sources of information. If people perceive you as an experienced and knowledgeable professional, they will want to keep in contact and maintain a relationship.
  1. Use your business card as a tactical weapon: I have a friend who renovates old wooden floors, so his business card is made of a thin piece of wood and has proven to be a guaranteed conversation starter. Be imaginative with the design and the job title displayed. Anything that says ‘sales’ or ‘business development’ could cause people to fear a sales pitch is on the way. So try and think of a job title that encourages a productive conversation.
  1. Receiving business cards: Be sure to make notes on the back to remind you of the conversation and the person. This could become much use in future interactions.
  1. Following up: If you engaged in constructive conversation with an attendee and have agreed to follow up after the event, then set a preferred method of contact and make sure to do so promptly.
  1. What not to do: Sales pitches, even if you’re asked ‘what does your company do’, keep your answer to a very brief explanation. Don’t ‘work the room’ rushing from group to group as this is not the way to form business relationships. It’s better to have had four good conversations than a dozen meaningless chats.

Words by Paul Rowney, director at Forum Events Ltd.

Forum Insight: Savvy SEO tips for start-ups that won’t break the bank…

With 50 per cent of new businesses failing within five years, recent research has revealed that many small businesses are missing out on opportunities to market online due to a lack of digital knowledge.

The research from 123 Reg found that 73 per cent said they did not advertise online and 42 per cent reported having no digital presence. SEO and other terminology also stumped 48 per cent of business owners surveyed, and only 53 per cent said their websites were easily readable via a mobile device.

“Being digitally savvy is especially important for start-ups. It can be the difference between your business being seen in the right places by the right people, and even small changes can have a huge impact,” comments Alex Minchin, founder and director of SEO agency Zest Digital.

Here, Alex shares three instantly achievable tips for small businesses looking to get started with SEO:

  1. Sign up to Google Analytics and Google Search Console and add the necessary code to your website: These are two free tools that will enable you to measure performance, even if you don’t understand it all immediately. You cannot improve something that you’re not measuring, and these tools will measure things such as; the number of visitors landing on your website, the best performing content, keywords driving traffic, any broken links or pages, and the links from other websites that are pointing back to your website.
  2. Start local: Most searches in the micro and small business world include local modifiers such as your city or county, e.g. “Plumbers in Croydon”. An easy way to start to build some gravitas towards your website is to feature on business directories. This creates ‘citations’ (mentions) of your business name and confirms your address and other details, in addition to pointing a link back to your website. It’s crucial to make sure your information is kept consistent, so finalise your details and use the same information as a template for all directories. These things will help to increase the strength and trust of your website. Just be sure to focus on reputable directories such as Touch Local, 192, Freeindex, and Opendi for example.
  3. Focus on the real basics and design each META title and description for each of the key pages on your website as a minimum: The title tag and descriptor underneath the search result is considered as a ranking factor by Google, and can positively influence your rankings for a particular keyword. Your title should include your keyword and brand name as a minimum, but try to be as creative as possible with the character limit (55 is the defacto) that you have available.  In the META description, it’s more important to include your value proposition and key information, for example “free delivery on all orders”, or “free quotation”. Remember, you’re trying to stand out to win a greater share of the clicks against the other websites competing for the same keyword so details and USPs are key.

“It’s widely reported that somewhere around 90 per cent of all purchasing decisions begin with a search engine and a search query.  SEO can therefore play a huge part in the marketing strategy of a small business.

Alex continues. “Sharing your expertise through content and delivering value to your target market is the name of the game, and it’s a playground that, whilst dominated by some larger brands, isn’t policed by them. It’s entirely possible for a small business to compete and win on this channel, and doesn’t have to involve a huge cost in doing so.”

Looking for a new retail industry event to attend? You need the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit…

With the next Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit taking place on February 6 & 7 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted, we thought we’d give you a few reasons to book your place at the event nice and early.

Put simply, if you’re looking for a new and informative retail industry event, you’ve found it.

First and foremost, the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit provides a platform for highly-targeted one-to-one meetings between industry professionals and trusted suppliers. But it also comes with a full programme of educational seminars, allowing all attendees to increase their industry knowledge and develop their skill sets while on site.

Plus, there’s full hospitality throughout, including lunches, drinks reception and an evening gala dinner, offering copious networking opportunities to build new business relationships.

But we think the enduring success of the event is best summed up by industry suppliers who have attended previously:

“Once again, a very well organised event with good quality of buyers, a good evening, networking opportunities. We will certainly return.”

Pfleiderer Industrie Ltd.

“Great event, very enjoyable and a good atmosphere.”

Zumtobel Group

“The Forum team is exceptional in the way they organise and support. I think that of all the Forum Events I have attended, but this is by far the best organised.”

Resolution Interiors

“As ever, a well organised, well attended event with lots of possibilities if followed up correctly by suppliers.”

I4 Group

 

So there you have it. More bespoke than a conference and more focused than an expo, the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit is the only event you need to attend in 2017.

The next Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit takes place on February 6 & 7, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted.

For more information or to book your place, call Courtney Saggers on 01992 374088 or email c.saggers@forumevents.co.uk.

Alternatively, visit www.retailshopfittingsummit.co.uk.

 

Forum Insight: Customer engagement methods to maintain strong relationships…

Now more than ever, customer communication methods are becoming varied and diverse. Trade exhibitions, social media platforms, focus groups and surveys, personalised email campaigns – the list is endless. But which methods will prove to be the most effective for your business? Before investing too much time and effort into just one, think carefully about all available options, and ask your customers how they prefer to be contacted…

Keep track of emails: Make it your personal – and even company – goal to respond to all customer emails within a five minute time frame. Not only will it generate appreciative responses, people love fast and efficient customer service, and this level of service will lead to an abundance of recommendations and increased trade. Need more convincing? View Eptica’s ‘Email Management’ article here.

Be active on social media: By now you’re probably tired of the constant emphasis on regular social media use, but inevitably, one of the best ways to connect with customers is through social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The good thing about social media is there is no time schedule to follow – you can reach customers at any time of the day. Use your company’s Facebook fan page or Twitter account to engage your followers and keep conversations flowing. Nowadays, social media has been incorporated as a form of customer service, so make your platforms adaptable for staff members to handle customer questions and complaints. Read through Conversocial’s case studies for influential insight.

Answer the phone: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! No matter what industry, a significant focus seems to be on new customer channel developments. But whatever happened to the traditional phone conversation? Whether you’re following up, apologising for something that went amiss, or wondering why you haven’t received an order in a while, there’s no better way to strengthen a customer relationship. According to eConsultancy, customers prefer assistance over the phone (61 per cent), followed by email (60 per cent); Live Chat (57 per cent); online knowledge base (51 per cent) and “click-to-call” support automation, (34 per cent).

Start a weekly blog: Why not create a weekly blog to keep your customers up-to-date? If you actively keep up a quality blog, not only will your customers read your blog, but they will respond to your blog. This creates a positive flow of communication and helps build customer loyalty. Find inspiration from these companies that have made blogging a ‘top priority’.

Conduct market research: Surveys allow businesses to identify customer needs. Once acknowledged, companies can steer their offerings towards filling these needs. Surveys are also a good tool to bring in prospective customers who are on the fence about a product/service, i.e. surveys can be used as a platform for prospective customers to voice their needs. Confused about whether to conduct quantitative or qualitative research? Learn more about the differences here.

Attending the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit? Here are our top tips for industry networking!

If you’re coming to the next Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit (or if you’ve been to one before) you’ll know just how many opportunities there are to network with your industry peers.

The networking areas are where, as industry suppliers or buyers, you can follow up on conversations you’ve had during the one-to-one meetings that form the core of the two days.

Or, you know, talk about the football.

Either way, business is more often than not about building relationships.

We create networking environments that are informal and free of any pressure – whether that’s during the plentiful coffee breaks, over the delicious lunches and gala dinner, or playing roulette as part of the evening entertainment.

To help you get the most out of these opportunities, we’ve pulled together a few top tips for becoming the consummate networker:

Always be yourself: You’re among friends at the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit, so there’s no need to feel nervous about walking into a big room of people. Our staff will be on hand to help with introductions and grease those social wheels (do come and say ‘hello’!), plus the evening entertainment lineup means fun and relaxation are the name of the game (did we mention the roulette?).

Have a think about what you want to achieve: Who’s in the room? Is there anyone you met earlier in the day that you’d like to follow up with? Whether you’re a supplier or a buyer, you’ve come to the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit with some specific goals in mind – the networking periods are a chance to help solidify those new partnerships.

Be curious: The Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit seminars are a great place for developing your industry knowledge and learning new skills. And they always create points of discussion. So why not see what everyone else thought of the talks, or swap some ideas on the latest technological developments and trends in the industry? And if you’re new to the industry, there will be seasoned veterans ready and willing to impart their wisdom!

Don’t forget your business cards! You didn’t think we could get through a whole article about networking without mentioning business cards, did you? It’s an old chestnut, but one worth re-roasting. This author has forgotten his cards more times than he cares to remember – it happens. Always keep a few spread between your wallet/purse, pockets and bag – then you’ll be able to produce one when you most need it. But don’t blanket bomb – just because you have 100 cards to give out, it doesn’t mean you have to!

Always follow up: You’ve given your cards out, but hopefully you’ve picked some up too! So make sure that when you get back to the office you log into LinkedIn or fire off some emails to your new contacts while everything’s still fresh in the mind.

Follow the above tips and you won’t go far wrong. Just don’t spend too long in the bar at the end of Day One – you’ll need to be bright as a button for all the networking we have lined up on Day Two!

 

For more information on the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit, call Courtney Saggers on 01992 374088 or email c.saggers@formumevents.co.uk.

Or visit www.retailshopfittingsummit.co.uk

Forums vs Expos – how to maximise your precious time out of the office…

With a majority of ‘expert’ advice on Expos being somewhat outdated or, like with many businesses, asserting too much emphasis on easy routes rather than methods that actually work, it’s no wonder people get frustrated and disconcerted when they are looking to effectively network and source new connections without it lessening quality time spent in the office.

Amplified by the dominant presence of social media quick fixes such as: setting up a LinkedIn profile; increasing your Twitter presence; scheduling a large number of email marketing campaigns; and collecting as many business cards as possible at industry events – are key solution in helping you to be astute in intelligently selecting what methods best suit you and your way of working.

Expos can also have a somewhat ‘lazy’ association to it: people picture the huge halls and countless stands as a way of picking up leads and justifying their time out of the office, but realistically a large percentage of exhibitors won’t be of necessary relevance, or the person you need to speak to has decided not to attend at the last minute.

So set aside any previous experiences you may have with networking and Expos, and garner some quality connections by attending one of our Forum Events. Our formula ensures that buyers can increase their knowledge of how, why and where to invest without hanging around waiting for the wrong supplier; as well as ensuring that all suppliers are provided with qualified leads and valuable business is made as a result.

Events relevant to you may include the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit taking place on February 6-7, 2017. Contact the team today…

Forum Insight: Tactics to improve your email marketing campaigns…

Although many in the marketing profession have publicly declared the platform of email to be a thing of yesteryear, it’s still evident that a majority brands and sales departments are keen to adopt an effective strategy that will connect an audience and spread the intended message.

Taking a standard template, filling in the blanks and hitting send is easy for anyone to do; but that’s not how you grow a business. It’s crucial to put some thought into developing a solid strategy, or even better, replicate an effective process that has gained a substantial amount of traction, and make solid improvements over time.

Every email campaign should have one goal in mind: don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information. You want to create a campaign that is easy for everyone to read and navigate; as well as ensuring all the appropriate information and links are included.

The day you choose to send out a campaign can also greatly impact the amount of traction gained. According to marketers, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to be the best days to send emails.

Although a template will more than likely be replicated for every campaign, emails should still look personal to the individual. Avoid decorative HTML designs; make sure emails appear to be written and sent by a real person to increase loyalty.

 

Subject line tips:

The subject line you decide to go with will undoubtedly be the most important part of your email. It’s just a few words; but you should dedicate as much attention and care to your subject line as you do to the email body. If it doesn’t attract interest, it won’t get opened.

  • If appropriate, use a reader’s name.
  • Make the subject line as inviting and personal as possible. The more personal the subject line, the higher the open rate.
  • Experiment with attention-grabbing questions as subject lines.
  • Always deliver in your email what you promise in your subject line.

Forum Insight: The essential client meeting checklist…

A well prepared face-to-face client meeting can create a significant impact on the quality of existing and new business relationships; as well as vastly increasing the value of a company in the long term.

Conducting client meetings is also a viable solution to sustaining business longevity which, is primarily determined by the loyalty and commitment of its customer base. Therefore, by following our essential checklist, a strong focus on hosting productive client meetings could turn out to be the one of best investments you will ever make in your business…

  1. Do your homework

It’s worthwhile to spend some time researching your clients’ business: their strengths, weaknesses, competitors and challenges. Gathering as much information as possible before your meeting will give you the much-needed confidence to hold a strong conversation and proactively suggest appropriate solutions.

  1. Plan your meeting

Particularly at a Forum or Summit, it’s likely you will only have around 20 minutes to make a bold first impression, so don’t waste it! Make sure to rehearse answers to any potential questions you feel the client may ask, and you’ll then be ready to overcome any obstacle.

  1. Focus solely on the client

Your last meeting went really well, and the client has given you a brief. Put that meeting to one side – you already have a date set for the next contact. Don’t neglect the client sitting in front of you; their potential contract could be bigger than the last and it crucial to keep this focus. If the clients purchasing requirement is good enough for them to travel to the Forum, then the sales opportunity is good enough for you to give them your undivided attention.

  1. Watch your body language

Get it wrong and it will be a deal breaker. Be immaculately dressed; firmly shake hands and pay attention to how you sit or stand. Strategically plan your coffee breaks; don’t leave your stand five minutes before your next meeting – they may be five minutes early! Inevitably, first impressions always count, so talk to them like you mean it. Be enthusiastic about the things you are talking about; listen to what they say and ask as many questions as you can.

Forum News: 5 successful negotiation tips to implement at industry events…

Making the most of any time spent out of the office, and ensuring the meetings you partake in are as effective as possible, involves the expert ability of negotiation, which can make the difference between triumph and disappointment with what you set out to achieve.

  1. Look, Listen & Learn: If you talk too much, you won’t learn anything. Be the investigator – ask lots of open ended questions. Allow the other party to talk; then all you have to do is sit back and take notes to help with your decision.
  1. Be assertive: Ask for exactly what you want. Differentiate being assertive and aggressive; it’s getting to the point more quickly and looking after your business needs. Challenging everything is fine too. We all know both parties need to negotiate to formulate a win/win situation; however there are scenarios when companies really are just looking for a higher ‘cut’ rather than a long term profitable partnership, so it’s best to challenge everything to ensure you are getting the very best deal.
  1. Preparation is king: Have you thought about everything you need before you enter the negotiation as well as what the other party may be looking for? You can’t possibly make accurate decisions without fully understanding both sides of the agenda.
  1. Convey optimism: Entering any negotiation is an exciting process, so it’s important to show that you’re excited and be positive about the transaction. People who are optimistic, usually achieve more by expecting more. Suppliers would ask for more than they expect to receive and buyers offer less than they are willing to give – that way everybody walks away happy with the end result.
  1. No need to rush: The best negotiators most likely own the distinctive patient gene. If you rush your meeting, planning or negotiation, this is when mistakes will be made. Be flexible with time and if any steps to the negotiation are hurried, concessions will be made and the deal left on the table.

To utilise these tips, contact the team to discuss your attendance at the upcoming Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit on February 6 & 7, 2017.

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