Tuesday, September 25, 2012


For B2B, Numbers Point to Signs of Optimism
Don’t wait till after the elections to start making decisions. There ain’t gonna’ be an ‘all clear’ signal.

Several key numbers jumped out at us this week and we think they’re worth heeding for B2B marketers. Remember, your customers are not just executives and trade show attendees; they’re homeowners, consumers and individual investors as well.

Through the end of 2011, the tradeshow industry performed better than the U.S. economy in general, beating even an industry-affiliated organization’s forecast for the year and recorded its eighth consecutive quarter of growth according to Center for Exhibition Industry Research (
CEIR) President Doug Ducate.

The CEIR index, which takes into account net square footage, attendance, number of exhibitors and revenue, found that the industry grew by 2.7 percent in 2011.Attendance was the indicator that saw the largest jump, from 2.4 percent in 2010 to 3.4 percent last year.

OUR TAKE: Considering the long lead time involved in the live events business, we’re probably just now seeing signs of optimism that first surfaced in 2010. Like CEIR, we predict event stronger numbers for the live events business as digital fatigue has worn on business professionals who now crave face-to-face interaction even more, albeit selectively, to close deals and consummate relationships.

Shows in some industry sector saw particularly strong growth in 2011. Among them were business-related exhibitions, including those involving machinery (11.2 percent overall); communication and information technology (8.1 percent); and transportation (5.7 percent).

Continuing to lag furthest behind other sectors was that with shows involving building, construction and real estate (which experienced a 5.3-percent decline in 2011).

Macro view
Let’s start with housing. Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes rose more than expected in August to a two-year high, an additional sign the U.S. housing market is firming up in the second half of the year. Purchases of previously owned houses increased 7.8 percent to an annual rate of almost 5 million, the most since May 2010, NAR said. Another report showed that construction began on more single-family homes last month than at any time in the past two years. The median price of an existing home climbed 9.5 percent to $187,400 from $171,200 in August 2011.

OUR TAKE: This confidence should lead to a rise in psychological feelings of wealth, which will lift consumer confidence and spending. We were also encouraged by a couple of things: the housing market should similar gains across ALL regions of the country. What’s more, first-time buyers made up 31 percent of the total compared with the average of 40 percent to 45 percent seen in normal years, which means, longstanding homeowners ARE feeling able to unload their homes and either trade up or scale down as their needs would dictate in a normal economy.

Construction companies too are noting better business conditions. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence climbed in September to the highest level since June 2006. Work began on 5.5 percent more single-family houses in August, taking starts to a 535,000 annual rate, the fastest since April 2010, figures from the Commerce Department also showed today.

Investor confidence in U.S. capital markets rises, doubts remain about overseas markets

The number of investors with at least some confidence in U.S. capital markets has increased slightly since the end of last year, according to the Center for Audit Quality, a public policy organization. Almost two thirds (65 percent) of investors with at least $10,000 in investments have at least some confidence in the market, an increase of 4 percent since 2011, says the Sixth Annual Main Street Investor Survey taken of 1,003 investors. By contrast, their confidence in capital markets outside the United States fell by 8 percent to 35 percent.

For U.S. investors, the CAQ survey found 64 percent feel their personal financial situation will stay the same, while 25 percent feel it will improve over the next year. The four top economic concerns investors have are not having enough money for retirement, not being able to afford health care, not being able to maintain their standard of living and losing their jobs.


As American humorist, Evan Esnar once quipped, “Statistics is the only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions.” We like to think of stats as another way of quantifying what’s in your gut. Too much business activity is hung up in wait-and-see mode until the November elections conclude. We strongly urge you to make important decisions NOW for 2013 and beyond. By the time the dust clears, your competitors and best prospects will be far down the road ahead of you. And you’ll be nursing your sorrows at some dingy dive in the town of ShouldaWouldaCoulda.


TAGS: Center for Exhibition Industry Research, CEIR, Doug Ducate, National Association of Realtors, CAQ, Center for Audit Quality, housing prices, B2B marketing, National Association of Homebuilders Wells Fargo Index, Evan Esnar

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