Interview with Matthias Marx, Marketing Manager at Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG

«In-house, we are able to get more intensively involved with individual clients»

As Marketing Supervisor for the label machine manufacturer Gallus Ferd. Rüesch, Matthias Marx is at home at the leading trade fairs in the industry. Why has the company based in St. Gallen decided to hold an in-house trade fair? And what are the differences concerning contact with clients at trade fairs? In the interview, he talks about the advantages and challenges of trade fairs within your own four walls.

Mr Marx, in addition to its participation at trade fairs abroad, why did Gallus decide to launch the "Gallus Innovation Days" in St. Gallen?

In our industry, the leading trade fair for the labelling industry takes place in Brussels every two years. As there was no leading fair available to us in 2014 to launch a new printing system onto the market, we at Gallus decided – at very short notice – to invite all our clients from all over the world to St. Gallen where we held this presentation ourselves in the form of an open-house event. And because the first in-house trade fair on this scale (approx.1700 m² of exhibition space) was a huge success, we have established this event here on a two-year cycle. The Gallus Innovation Days are going into the third round this year – and have now grown to become an event in the industry.

Are there differences in contact with clients on "home soil" or at trade fairs?

Certainly – at the big trade fairs, we try to utilise all of our skills and attractions to keep our clients at our stand for as long as possible because the competition are in the immediate vicinity and are also enticing clients. In-house, we have the opportunity to become more intensively involved with individual clients without them being distracted by any time pressure from any of our competitors.

We are also able to plug our entire product portfolio, which is impossible at a trade fair for purely logistical reasons. And it has been shown that our partner companies, who also exhibit at the Gallus Innovation Days, likewise benefit from this comfortable, familiar atmosphere in the same way.

Matthias Marx, Marketing Supervisor at Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG

«At an open-house event, we can exploit our home advantage to the full.»

Which client groups are you able to attract to trade fairs? Who do you reach more effectively with an event at your company headquarters?

We assume that the interest in buying a Gallus machine in the clients coming to the Gallus Innovation Days is very high – otherwise they wouldn’t make the journey to St. Gallen. At a conventional trade fair, one cannot automatically assume that every visitor who makes their way to the stand is also a potential Gallus client.

Trade fairs have the advantage that you also get to know completely new clients who you don’t yet have on your address list. At the open-house event, even in the run-up to it, we target invitations to those clients who we know have already reached a certain level of interest in making a purchase. But we also invite those client groups that we have not yet won over and have as yet been unable to acquire for a Gallus product. Ultimately at such an open-house event, we can exploit our home advantage to the full in order to convince these potential new clients of the quality and reliability of the machines, and also the company.

What do you value most when choosing an implementation partner?

We have worked with Andreas Messerli AG for a very long time. The integrated approach has always been important to us. This means that we tell one story with every stand concept at our trade fairs and exhibitions, which is constantly ongoing in terms of time and content as we move from event to event. In this way, we are able to exploit synergies and utilise both exhibits and concept several times. In our industry, it is important to not only show products working well, but also to deliver an equally professional show. In Messerli, we have found a partner that is at home not only with traditional trade fair construction, but also in the entire events industry –  in this respect, a partner who is able to support us in every way.

Matthias Marx, Marketing Supervisor at Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG

«It is precisely these small costs that must not be underestimated as the sum of these little costs may come to half of the total budget.»

Regarding the organisation, which area poses the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge with an in-house trade fair is to constantly stay on top of everything. Many organisational issues seen in isolation don’t seem too demanding but, in the context of the whole undertaking, certain little issues do play a part in the success of an event. In this respect, one phrase is as true as ever: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In addition, the Gallus Innovation Days – as with several other open-house events at Gallus – always run during regular production operations. This means having to coordinate lots of things that you don’t have to take into account during a normal trade fair. We have to convince the entire workforce of the necessity of holding such an event.

What advice do you give to Brand Supervisors organising their own in-house trade fair or open-day event?

Draw up a detailed project plan, begin the organisation sufficiently early and integrate the workforce into communication about the in-house trade fair and get them enthusiastic about it. Only when all staff are involved can an in-house event become a complete success. Another issue concerns the costs of an in-house trade fair. Certainly, there are fewer large cost drivers, but a great many small ones. And it is precisely these small costs that must not be underestimated as the sum of these little costs may come to half of the total budget.

Thanks you very much for talking to us, Mr Marx.

Matthias Marx (53), ), industrial engineering graduate (university of applied sciences), has been responsible for Marketing at Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG since 2014. Here you can find out more about Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG and the Gallus Innovation Days.