Growth – every business needs it to succeed. But in an uncertain world with external economic factors such as Brexit, and internal organisational factors such as your operational fitness, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate through.
Adding to the mix, some sectors have also seen a significant downturn, such as oil and gas, and while overall the aerospace sector is growing, there has been some recent turbulence with the collapse of Monarch, and the low rate of sterling also impacting some markets.
It’s at times like these, that businesses start to look at how they can expand their horizons, particularly if they’ve historically always depended on one sector for their work. And most turn to diversification – whether that’s launching a new product or expanding into new markets, either geographically through exporting or by looking at how they can tailor their existing products for new sector markets.
And if exhibitions are one of the channels you use to draw attention to your business and increase your sales, you may well be planning to exhibit at shows that are new to you.
It may come as no surprise that breaking into new territories requires a different marketing approach, it isn’t simply a case of you taking your existing stand to shows in new sectors and expecting it to work for you.
So, what do you need to consider when you’re diversifying into new markets and exhibiting to new audiences? At the very least, you should:
Think about where you are
As obvious as it may sound, what works for one exhibition one week, may not necessarily work for your next exhibition the following week, especially if it’s in a completely different sector.
Once you’ve booked your exhibition space, immediately think about your stand. Will it look out of place at the event? What changes need to be made to make sure it looks the part? Does it need to be redesigned altogether? If you’re unsure, ask an exhibitions specialist who has plenty of experience of working with customers who’ve exhibited at different sector-wide events. They’ll be able to advise you based on their first-hand knowledge, not research or hearsay.
Review your brand…
Your brand is one of the first things people see at exhibitions, which means it’s vitally important it grabs their attention for all of the right reasons.
Do you have a standout brand? If you’re well-established in one particular sector, your customers and prospects will already know who you are and what you’re about. But if you’re trying to break into a new market, then you’re going to need to establish yourself and a strong brand will help you do just that.
Take Tesco and its approach to venturing into the mobile payments arena, for instance. The supermarket giant had originally branded its new mobile payment service as PayQwiq, but then decided to review and change the branding so that it resonated better with mobile customers.
Tesco bosses reportedly felt that PayQwiq was a bit too quirky and off-message, so they changed it to Tesco Pay+ to make it clearer to customers what the solution provides. The branding was also enhanced to improve the customer experience and the look and feel of the app was updated too so that it was consistent with Tesco’s corporate branding.
…and your key messages!
Your branding and key messages go hand-in-hand however, it’s the key messages that often tend to get overlooked by businesses.
Every sector has a specific language and terminology that everyone working within the sector automatically understands. You will stand out for all of the wrong reasons if your key messages are misaligned. So, make sure you do your research and tailor your messages so that they speak to that industry in their language. The same principle applies to your target audience too. For instance, if you’re exhibiting at an event that’s aimed purely at buyers and then the general public, the messages are going to change, aren’t they?
If you’re unsure about your key messages, then you may want to go back to basics by revisiting your value propositions to see how they fit with your new sectors and/or audience. Consider what their pain points and challenges are and what they want to achieve. (For more information about value propositions, visit https://strategyzer.com/canvas/value-proposition-canvas).
Educate your audience
You know what you do and the sector in which you’re established knows what you do, but this won’t be the case in new markets. You need to educate your audience and one of best ways to do this on exhibition day is a) through your stand design and b) your marketing collateral.
Being armed with a suite of professionally-designed leaflets and/or brochures that carry your latest brand and key messages will help you explain your offering to people, as well as give them something to take away and consider if they’re too busy to stop and chat. What’s more, having eye-catching takeaways on your exhibition stand is also a great way to grab people’s attention too.
Train your exhibition team
As well as educating your target audience, it’s worth spending some time training your exhibition team so that they’re familiar with your key messages and can talk to stand visitors knowledgably and with confidence.
We’ve all been to exhibitions where staff on the stands are underwhelming and don’t engage with visitors. This is your showcase, and your exhibition team is as valuable an asset as all the investment you’ve put into the design and build of your stand. Don’t neglect this important element; think carefully about what you want your exhibition team to achieve and select your best people to do the job – or talk to an exhibitions specialist, who will help you to recruit the right temporary exhibition team.
Plug into PR
Most exhibitions tend to be widely promoted by the organisers before, during and after the event. Don’t be afraid to ask the organisers about the PR they’ve arranged and how exhibitors can get involved.
Whether it’s a mention among the list of overall exhibitors in a trade magazine or an editorial piece, all PR coverage is valuable in helping raising awareness of your brand, particularly if you’re trying to stand out from the competition in an area you’ve never worked in before.
And don’t forget to develop your media pack for the exhibition and make the time to get to know the key industry media during the exhibition. Book appointments with editors and journalists beforehand and invite them to come and visit your stand on the day.
Make your media pack eye-catching and full of useful information about your business for editors and journalists. You want them to pay attention to your company beyond the exhibition, so give them something to pique their interest. You could include a particularly relevant case study within your media pack, a thought-provoking infographic or a couple of particularly pertinent press releases. Don’t forget to include some good strong photographs that clearly show what your business excels at too.
We hope you’ve found these pointers useful. They are by no means exhaustive, but are designed to help guide you on the right path to successfully using exhibitions as your launch pad into new markets.