The attraction of exhibition marketing

The attraction of exhibition marketing


Over the last year, the demand from bridging lenders wanting to take part in exhibitions (expos) has grown dramatically. With three large events per year - in London, Manchester and Birmingham - expos provide the chance for lenders to meet with a large volume of brokers face-to-face. Miranda Atty investigates whether the benefits outweigh the costs in an attempt to answer why expos have become increasingly popular within the bridging community...

James Prosser, Show Director of the Mortgage Business Expo (MBE), explained the attraction for lenders: “What MBE brings to the table is an opportunity for bridging lenders to meet 2,000 brokers over two days.” 

So, are bridgers increasingly taking the place of the mainstream lenders? 

Managing Director of Precise Mortgages, Alan Cleary, said: “The banking sector is under extreme pressure on many fronts. The Vickers Report, Basel III and domestic regulation means that banks will have to restructure their businesses and at the same time grow their Tier 1 capital, all of which has and will continue to cause many banks to move away from anything but vanilla mainstream and/or BTL lending.  

“This has created some opportunity for other lenders to increase their presence in the bridging market.”

Director of MT Finance, Tomer Aboody, added, “At recent expos the bridging finance lenders seemed to represent a disproportionately large percentage of the total exhibiting lenders present. This is an indication of a booming bridging industry and simultaneously the continued funding lack of activity from the conventional high street lenders.”


The presence of bridgers at recent expos is undeniable, but what difference does location make? Alan Margolis explained that United Trust Bank – which has its offices in London - currently only exhibits at the London MBE. However Masthaven Bridging Finance, which is also based in the capital, hasn’t, as yet, chosen to exhibit at London. Richard Deacon, Sales and Marketing Director at Masthaven, told us: “The Manchester MBE and NACFB in Birmingham are very, very good for Masthaven.”

James Prosser highlighted the benefits of both. “Both London and Manchester serve a purpose. MBE Manchester only returned in 2011 and grew in size by over 100 per cent. 

“It was (re)launched after conversations with exhibitors at the London 2010 event. It’s important to listen to your clients’ requirements and deliver an event that matches their expectations, which Manchester MBE has certainly done.”

Stressing what influences a lender’s choice of location, Tomer added, “It is logical for lenders who have a geographic focus to attend industry events which are more likely to be relevant to that focus. However in our experience the simple fact that a broker or introducer may be based in Cardiff, or Liverpool and/or another part of the country does not mean that they will not have cases which are relevant to us.”  


Although paying for both a stand and a space can be quite costly, lenders explained that this is often outweighed by the benefits. Alan Margolis, Head of Bridging at United Trust Bank, commented: “For United Trust Bank, exhibiting provides an opportunity to meet many financial intermediaries in a short time. 

“Exhibiting can be very expensive and although different exhibitors may have different primary objectives, so for instance those looking to significantly push awareness of their brand will spend more on the largest stands, other more established lenders can afford to be more modest in their expenditure.”

Richard explained that Masthaven has a certain budget it sticks to for each show, to ensure that the cost is justified. For him, an expo offers an opportunity for: “Branding and general marketing, but it is also a good opportunity to network on a larger scale.”

Is it ever worthwhile for lenders to visit without exhibiting?

Tomer suggested not, explaining that MT Finance “would not generally attend an expo unless we were exhibiting or unless we had set up meetings with brokers in advance. We are already familiar with the market and so there would be little value added in attending otherwise.”

Speaking more generally, James added: “If you have a stand at an event, it gives you a base for your staff to meet with their clients and your clients will be aware that you are there. An event is not just about the days that the show takes place. 

“There is a lot of targeted marketing before and after the event which often gets forgotten about and is included in the cost of the stand. I have no problem with potential exhibitors visiting either of the expos and getting a feel for the events. You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari without test driving it, would you?!” 

It seems that, for most lenders, the opportunity to be in a room with so many brokers who have potential deals that need completing is too good to pass up. Relationships are undoubtedly a crucial element in the bridging industry, and so the opportunity that expos afford to build new, and solidify existing, relationships make them attractive and increasingly popular events to be part of.


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