Creating a Market Place
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional
As a Business School Undergrad, majoring in Marketing, I was taught that you cannot create a market for a product. You can stimulate a market but you cannot create one. With the number of new products and new technologies being created in the past 40 years, I will leave that debate to a younger generation to discuss the difference between creating a need for a product and creating a market for a product. What I am convinced of is that you can create a marketplace for a product that meets the needs of a person.
In the past month, I have been working on Key People Listings of Industry Professionals in the Equipment, Training and Travel Sectors of our industry. Because we are creating a program that brings Buyers and Sellers together, the project actually expanded into creating Key People Lists for Dive Retailers, Non-Profit Organizations, Shows & Events Professionals and Industry Media Companies. Here is what we learned.
Let’s say that a Market is a place where Buyers and Sellers meet to exchange programs, products and services for compensation. We call this a Marketplace. The job of setting up the market and bringing Buyers and Sellers together falls on us Marketing Professionals. That means we have to arrange a venue that is conducive to sales, easy for Sellers to get to and centrally located for a sufficient number of Buyers to attend. Wow. Just like a Trade Show or a Consumer Dive Show.
A consumer or trade show is nothing more than a market place that is created to bring buyers and sellers together. Exhibitors buy booth space and come to sell products to the attendees. Speakers and film makers come to offer a service to the attendees. They are either selling their service to the show producer for compensation or they are selling a book, a dive trip or a photographic service to the attendees. They could also be selling their presenter service at no cost to enhance their resume and professional experience. Either way, there is a Buyer – Seller relationship there.
Now, who’s responsibility is it to bring in the attendees? Number one, it’s the person who is charging the attendees a fee for coming to the show. The Show Producers are selling tickets to attendees in exchange for workshops, seminars, film festivals, exhibit hall vendors and social activities. Although it is not the exhibitor’s responsibility to bring in attendees, it is smart trade show marketing to do everything you can, prior to a show, to get as many of your current, former and future customers to come to the show and see you. Remember, exhibitors are selling products, not show tickets.
Where does the money come from to advertise Shows & Events to potential attendees? It comes from the Exhibitors, Attendees and Sponsors. If you ask the “old school” show producers, they will tell you that exhibitor booth sales pay for the venue, sponsors pay for the advertising and the money you get from ticket sales is profit. I would argue with that a little. I believe that Exhibitor fees, Sponsorship revenue and ticket sales should all go toward the venue, marketing, advertising, scholarships, show equipment upgrades and an investment in the local diving community where the show is held.
It’s time to change the way we think about the way we create market places and why we create them the way we do. It’s time to focus on bringing Buyers and Sellers together for mutual gratification. It’s time to match the Buyer types with the correct Sellers. It’s time to let the Sellers know where their money is going and who it is intended to support. If we don’t do that now, I am afraid our Sellers will go set up their own market place! And if the Sellers leave, why would the Buyers return?