Going Global: Effective marketing at a trade show
In today’s rapidly changing marketplace local companies and consumers are interacting, selling, and purchasing goods and services beyond Vietnam’s borders on a regular basis, says the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
With greater access to foreign markets such as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and EU created by Free Trade Agreements, many local companies are now looking to expand overseas and to sell internationally.
At first blush, these prospects come as good news, as they present opportunities for growth into far off untapped markets – yet, such opportunities are not without their own set of challenges.
While the idea of ‘going global’ may sound attractive, the facts is most all local companies just can’t afford the cost, time, and resource investment to market overseas,” said Do Thang Hai, deputy minister of the MoIT.
“And they can’t look to the government for assistance paying these costs either,” said Hai.
Hai said the MoIT’s current year budget for marketing is only approximately US$4 million (VND 90 billion), which is slightly lower than last year’s budget of US$4.5 million (VND100 billion).
But beyond the government’s limited budget, said Hai, it’s simply up to local companies to pay for their own advertising marketing cost. He suggests they learn how to use trade shows as a cost effective way to expand their presence in international markets.
One effective strategy is for local businesses to attend and exhibit their products at all domestic trade shows. Obtain a list of attendees from the organizer well in advance of the show and contact each of them well before the trade show.
Set up breakfast, lunch and dinner methods with different contacts for each day of the trade show.
Consider offering a free gift or sample to them for visiting your booth, and be sure to mail them a coupon before the show starts.
All of your marketing efforts at the trade show should be aimed at getting one-on-one contact with each potential buyer to make your pitch and close a sale. Create and rehearse a tight sales pitch you can use over and over.
Have easy-to-read sell sheets at your pavilion that potential buyers can pick up and quickly see your benefit. Make sure the sell sheets are available for potential buyers even if no one is manning the pavilion.
Link your elevator speech points to your sell sheet copy and include your URL, phone number and email address. Make sure you staple your business card to each sell sheet.
Giving small gifts is an effective way to entice potential buyers to your pavilion. Use freebies to get potential buyers business cards so you can later create a mailing list of people you met at the show.
Sponsorships and Ads
Sponsoring a breakfast, refreshment break, lunch, cocktail party or dinner during the trade show and invite potential customers. This sets your company apart from the competition and positions you as a leader in your field.
Many of your best contacts you meet at the show won’t sign orders at the show and will wait to order after they return home. Your post-show follow-up can be critical to determining whether or not the trade show was a success.
Use the contact list you generated at the event to send thank-you letters, sales materials and a heads-up that you will be contacting them to answer any questions they might still have.