by Jeff Hannah, VP of International Services & Commercial Interiors
Are your booth staffers greeting French-speaking attendees in English at a show in Paris? Does your English marketing tagline make sense when translated into Portuguese? Are you asking for hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars, but have no way to prove your ROI because you are not evaluating your program? Many companies who exhibit at international trade shows make these COMMUNICATION MISTAKES, which fall into two main areas: Messaging and Engagement.
In this 4-part series: Common Mistakes Made by International Exhibitors, we are identifying these mistakes and suggesting tactics to avoid them in the future. You can read Part One, AWARENESS, here and Part Two, PREPARATION, here.
Marketing messages (or stories) are typically communicated from the context of our own culture. Most companies take these messages and simply translate them into the local language when attending a trade show overseas. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work, as some stories simply don't translate well.
Your audience will be listening from their cultural context and may hear something quite different than what you intended. They may miss the main point, some of the nuances, or just not get it. They are looking at life through a different set of lenses, and will see and hear things differently due to their cultural context.
If you want to communicate effectively with them, you will need to craft a message which is unique and speaks directly to them.
Marketers typically create personas for their target demographics, which is an ideal approach for this situation. In this case, you would create personas with the cultural profile of your target audience. You can solicit help from your local office marketing experts, or you can rely upon cultural marketing experts. Regardless of your direction, it is important to consult locals before finalizing your message.
How will you engage with your target audience at a trade show in Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi or some other international location? Will you give them a firm handshake? Invite them to participate in a contest? Drop their business card in the bowl for the daily grand prize drawing, after receiving it with both hands? Will you greet them in English or in their native language? Many companies try the same approach that they use in their home country, which illustrates their ethnocentric bias.
Many other national cultures lean towards building relationships and determining if there is alignment before getting into too many business details. Some use multiple meetings to accomplish this, or extended conversations, or sharing snacks and drinks.
Many American companies tend to be transactional, getting down to business immediately. They exchange pleasantries and business cards, ask what products you might be interested in, and then ask if they can swipe your badge send a follow-up email. But, your international prospect might want to sit down, have a cup of coffee and learn about what kind of company you have and what your people are like before discussing a business deal.
Ready to expand your business internationally? It’s crucial to understand the cultural differences in those countries before you make this step. Download our Cultural Compass Infographics HERE. This set of eleven (11) infographics will give you important pointers on how to work within these unique cultures and ultimately create a path for success.
Cultures vary widely on how they want to engage - and what kinds of things they want to discuss. It is imperative to develop a culturally relevant approach for each audience. This is why understanding cultural differences is so important when doing business internationally.
Want to learn the must know tips for international exhibiting? Download our eBook to learn all the aspects of business to consider when exhibiting internationally! [Bradley can create a visual CTA here for the book & bonus content]
This is part 3 of a 4 part series on common mistakes made by international exhibitors.
Jeff Hannah is VP of International Services & Commercial Interiors for Exhibit Concepts. He consults, writes, and speaks about engagement strategies, cultures, and trade show differences between countries. He has founded companies in the UK, UAE, and USA, and has produced trade show exhibits, interiors, and events in over 50 countries for many of the world’s top brands. You can find Jeff on Twitter: @jeffnuance.
So, you want to take your domestic trade show to an international audience. Or perhaps you’re already participating in international trade shows but you want to expand your program to additional cities. Regardless of the stage of your particular program, there is great value in understanding how trade shows operate internationally because it can be very different than in the United States.
You’ve made the decision to attend a trade show and you’ve allocated a lot of your marketing budget to the event. So, what steps can you take to make this a successful investment? There are many variables and complexities involved in exhibiting so preparation is a crucial component of the overall process.
When the new Vertiv brand was unveiled to customers, it was
The old saying is true: You only get one chance to make a first impression. These days, we also know from experience that good branding is important and goes far beyond an eye-catching logo. While branding is definitely about the visual identity of your company it also encompasses your verbal identity: how you talk and write about the company is crucial. For your reader (AKA current/future clients), this communicates your brand personality and what your company values are likely to be, should they choose to hire you. It’s crucial to consider the physical spaces your target audience is likely to encounter your brand, in the same way we think about logos, fonts, tone, and voice.
The concept of buyer personas has only been defined since 2002. The practice of building a model representation of a typical buyer, defining their goals, understanding what drives their behavior, and how, when and why they buy is an incredibly valuable tool for marketers, especially in the digital age. We create content based on an informed understanding of who our buyer is and where she is on her buying journey.