For businesses wishing to expand their operations into overseas markets, the expo or trade show provides a clear opportunity to get their message across directly to an international audience and to expand knowledge of their brand.
It is essential to have the right kind of supporting material for an international trade show, and this includes branded merchandise to give away.
An International Marketing Channel
“Exhibiting abroad is the fastest route to exposing your brand internationally,” Chris Rigby, MD of Invogue Incentives, points out. “But you can’t just turn up and expect everything to fall into your lap.”
Business expos are a marketing channel, one which requires using the right tools to be effective.
There are going to be key items on any checklist for exhibiting overseas, such as literature, banners and business cards, but also merchandise.
In a 2012 survey, the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) assessed promotional merchandise as generating a better return on investment than either radio or outdoor advertising. And an equal ROI to television and print.
“You’re there to increase your visibility,” Chris explains, “so you must have the means to help you do this. Branded gifts can make your brand that much more memorable.”
Useful items such as USB drives, pens, mugs, bags and folders have an extended lifespan as promotional items because of their practicality.
“You can almost think of branded merchandise as promotion by stealth, because that item can become part of someone else’s workplace environment, like a form of ambient advertising”
As with any marketing activity, merchandising means understanding your audience. And when exhibiting abroad there can be an added cultural dimension to making this judgement.
“Appropriateness is always important in marketing and in merchandise,” Chris remarks. “Obviously, the gifts you’re offering should be in keeping with the overall image of your brand that you want to project. But also, are they appropriate for the country you’re exhibiting in.”
“There can be cultural sensitivities around such things as colour and typography. If edgy marketing is your thing, then be mindful of how your otherwise ironic messages could be taken at face value, losing something in translation”
“Overseas exhibitions and trade shows are great opportunities, but do your research in advance,” Chris concludes. “Get it right, and your merchandise can enhance your brand, and help boost your business internationally.”