CONVENTIONS AND EXHIBITIONS MARKETING – MARKET DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES FOR SMES

As Macao’s convention and exhibition industry has grown steadily over the last few years, local SMEs should consolidate their marketing strategies and implement comprehensive publicity and promotional campaigns, in order to make the best use of the business opportunities brought about by the industry’s development. The 13th Macao International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF) will be held from 23 to 26 October and a Small and Medium Enterprise Pavilion will be set up to encourage SMEs to make the best use of the MIF vehicle to explore business opportunities.

THE ROLE OF CONVENTIONS AND EXHIBITIONS IN MARKETING

The Convention and exhibition industry’s name is often abbreviated to ‘C&E’. Exhibitions can be categorised as a comprehensive exhibition or a specialist exhibition. A comprehensive exhibition refer to an exhibition covering a number of industries such as an exhibition for general industry and light-industry. Specialist exhibition refers to an exhibition for a specific sector or product such as a jewellery exhibition.

Exhibitions play an important role for SME’s to market their products or services. Firstly, enterprises can make use of the information channels provided by the exhibition to promote and publicise their brand. SMEs may be able to communicate directly with their target customers and collect commercial information about potential competitors, which will enable them to obtain prompt and accurate development trends in the industry. More importantly, enterprises can make use of exhibitions to explore new technology, products and innovative ideas to assist them in determining the next step in the development strategy.

SME CONVENTION AND EXHIBITION STRATEGIES

The success of an exhibition hinges on its strategy and how they are implemented. Strategy is the foundation needed to strengthen the development of an enterprise while the implementation is the key to success. In simple words, SMEs should take into consideration their own resources and strengths (such as products, information, technology and services) or the market demand, they should analyse changes in the marketing environment and make a timely and well-targeted convention and exhibition marketing strategy. The focus must be on how to make the best use of the convention and exhibition to seek information, explore business opportunities, market products and promote a corporate image.

Compared to neighbouring areas, Macao’s convention and exhibition industry is still in its infancy. How to enhance professional standards and systematic management, utilise innovative ideas in the venues and the building of a corporate image have become fundamental to a marketing plan.

I. REFERENCING INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT TRENDS AND ENHANCING PROFESSIONAL SERVICE

Conventions and exhibitions are very complex, therefore in order to be successful, SMEs need to implement every aspect of the exhibition in a comprehensive and systematic manner. Starting from the planning, venue, market surveys, product displays and publicity materials, the activities to be carried out in the exhibition and follow-up services, it is necessary to pay the closest attention to every stage and provide customers with useful information and professional services.

1. before planning an exhibition: SMEs should firstly set out clearly various details including the objectives, targeted visitors and the theme of the exhibition, which should be practical in line with the overall marketing strategy of the enterprise. At the same time, the enterprise should collect information about the exhibition from the organiser including the date, time and the costs of exhibition booths, all of these aspects are closely related to the overall marketing plan. For instance, for exhibitions without identifiable markets, emphasis should be placed on the publicity and promotion of the products and market research. For exhibitions in areas with more sophisticated business development, focus should be based on the promotion of the corporate image, enhancement of the brand and the cordial relationship with clients. In addition, surveys should be conducted on the subjects which are of interest to customers are all clearly helpful in the making of an appealing marketing plan.

2. Wise use of booth design and the choice of display items: the exhibition booth is the “business card” of the enterprise. Other than booth construction safety, issues such as creative booth design, unique product lines and its ability to target specific customers are important factors to be considered. A quality booth does not need to be extravagantly designed but its concept must be expressive, functional as must be the products on display. As such, the booth design should meet two major requirements: firstly, an eye-catching design, which will secondly strengthen the identity of the enterprise and its products. This is not just a concept to be demonstrated through innovative design, but also expressed through product displays and presenting visitors with a new experience. In fact, many renowned international exhibition organisers and companies have attached great importance to the layout of the venues, or by giving out free gifts, to arouse visitors’ interest and enhance the desire to purchase.

3. focus on follow-up services: SMEs are not only responsible forstrengthening the services provided at the exhibition as well as the publicityand promotion of their products to ensure that visitors receive timely marketinformation and maintain good customer relations, they should also focuson follow-up services. International exhibition companies or exhibitorswill maintain contact with participants for a period after the exhibitionand establish a long-term network of customers. Analysis of the feedbackfrom participants and exhibition data may help better prepare for the nextexhibition, this serves as a good example for Macao’s SMEs to followaccording to their own situations.

II. GETTING HOLD OF BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE CONVENTION AND EXHIBITION INDUSTRY AND PROMOTING A CORPORATE BRAND IMAGE

Many people think that corporate brand building requires extensivecapital and expertise as well as considerable risk. However, SMEs can makeuse of the advantage of they have in the flexibility of their operation, loworganisational costs and fast decision-making, to carry out extensive productpublicity through the effective conventions and exhibitions channels. In fact,the costs for marketing through exhibitions are comparatively lower whencomparing with the advertising costs of other sales and publicity outlets.

Regarding the promotion and marketing of brands, SMEs may promotetheir brand by integrating Macao’s local features within the theme ofthe exhibition to impress visitors with a stylish and unique packaging,advertisements, corporate image and relevant activities. For instance,some exhibitors may organise special promotional activities during theexhibition to attract more attention to their booth and enhance the effectof publicity and brand identification. SMEs, however can make use ofthe opportunities of participating in overseas exhibitions to explore theinternational market and also communicate with local and overseas industryoperators. Inspiration for new ideas that come from these channels mayhelp to motivate and stimulate the development of the local conventionand exhibition industry.

III. IPIM ASSITS SMES TO GRASP BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES IN THE CONVENTION AND EXHIBITION INDUSTRY

To assist local SMEs to get hold of business opportunities broughtabout by the industry, IPIM has integrated the function of our SME ServiceCentre with promoting convention and exhibition development and activelysupporting local SMEs to take part in exhibitions. Meanwhile, IPIM alsoregularly organises delegations of local entrepreneurs to join Mainland oroverseas exhibitions, as well as supporting overseas exhibitors to organiseevents in Macao, thus enhancing the co-operation relationships with thelocal industry. For instance, during the 13th MIF to be held from 23 to 26October, the size of the Small and Medium Enterprise Pavilion will beincreased. In order to encourage SMEs to make the best use of the MIFvehicle to explore business opportunities, IPIM will provide financialincentives of MOP 5,800 for each exhibition booth, while SMEs will becharged MOP 5,000 for a 9 square metre booth. IPIM will also contact andinvite purchasing companies and suppliers from around the world to takepart in MIF and create more business opportunities for operators.

In consideration of the limitation of resources faced by local SMEs,IPIM launched the Macao Trade and Invest Kiosk in August last year toprovide interactive trade information for overseas investors, exhibitorsand business visitors. It also serves as a promotional and publicity outletfor local SMEs and should helps them to take advantage of the businessopportunities in the convention and exhibition industry.

CONCLUSION

To be outstanding, SMEs not only need top quality products but also an appropriate marketing strategy both of which plays a vital role in achieving success. If SMEs can make use of the marketing strategy in conventions and exhibitions and effectively promote their business, from the planning before the exhibition, to booth design, to choice of products, to follow-up services and to brand promotion, the meticulous planning and well timed launch of new products and services will be able to draw the attention of participants and achieve the desired marketing objectives successfully.
For further details about the support and special subsidy for SMEs, please contact our SME Service Centre.

SME SERVICE CENTRE
Address:
Macao Business Support Centre
Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute
19th and 20th Floor, China Civil Plaza Building,
263 Alameda Dr. Carlos d’Assumpção, Macao
Enquiries: 28 728 212
Fax: 28 727 123
Email: mbsc@ipim.gov.mo
Website: http://www.ipim.gov.mo

Source:

  • Brief Talk on the Categorisation of Exhibitions (Chinese version only), Expo China http://www.expo-china.com
  • Qiye Tuozhan Shichang de Yiba Liren (Chinese version only), Expo China Expo China http://www.expo-china.com
  • Brief Analysis of Professionalism of Convention and Exhibition (Chinese version only), Tianjian Lianye Yuanxiao Lianhe Xuebao, Yang Ying, Chapter 9, Issue 6, November 2007
  • Brief Analysis of the Current Situation and Development Strategy of Macao’s Convention and Exhibition Industry (Chinese version only), Macau University of Science and Technology, Hong Jin

Important Notice : All information is for reference only. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information, IPIM will not be held responsible or be liable for failing to guarantee the accuracy of any information provided, nor for any damage caused by inaccurate information or omissions.