For exhibit and event professionals  

Feature—How International Business Culture Affects Your Business Strategy

July 25, 2014 By Editor

National flagsPlanning and pulling off an exhibit can be costly, but the results can be well worth it in terms of both short term and long term business growth. However, for an exhibit to be as successful as it is meant to be, it must be tailored to meet the needs of the business culture in question. Following are some important questions to ask when planning an exhibit that targets a foreign demographic.

  • How will attendees respond to the exhibit set-up, product displays, pricing, brochures, etc.?
  • What about freebies? Are they appropriate for this particular event? If so, which ones should be given out?
  • What skills would those staffing the exhibit need in order to communicate effectively with potential clients and business partners?

Evaluating the Culture

There are some tasks that marketing and sales must take on to ensure the show’s full success.

  • Determining which products would be the best to showcase. While many companies naturally use an exhibit to showcase their latest gadgets or services, it is important to bear in mind that not all company offerings may be suitable or appropriate for the culture in question.
  • Monetary factors in the area where the show is being held also have a bearing on which products are showcased. Market research on the performance of company products ensures that only competitive products are sent to the show and that these are not over or under priced.
  • Deciding on the marketing budget to be allotted for the event. When allocating the budget, consider costs for the event, the standard of professionalism that an organization in the country in question is expected to maintain, and what new materials will be needed to pull off the exhibit.

Once these items have been dealt with, the exhibit manager can ensure that the set-up of the show is appropriate for the culture. This may involve buying new exhibit items, like signs, banners, lighting, display cases, etc. The exhibit manager should also ensure that brochures and other hand outs are culturally appropriate and that booth staffers are familiar with about any cultural do’s and don’ts.

Evaluating the Demographic

Naturally, attendance at an exhibition is not limited to a particular group of people. Even so, it is wise for any company to put a priority on meeting the needs of its target demographic; that is, the people who are most likely to become repeat customers of the company.

The event manager can ensure that the company's exhibit attracts the target demographic. This includes choosing an appropriate location in the exhibit, obtaining appropriate freebies and choosing the right personnel for the exhibit (for instance, in some countries it would be inappropriate for a man to talk to a woman about particular products).

Planning a Culturally Relevant Event in Your Home City

Cultural relevance is not only for exhibit professionals who plan and staff exhibits in other countries. It is also important for national exhibits that cater to a multi-cultural audience. The points listed above still apply but there are some other considerations to take into account as well.

  • Be aware of time differences. If your target audience is flying in from another country, make sure your exhibit hours cater to the needs of your jet-lagged potential customers. Try as much as possible to operate on their time frame, not yours. Even if it means planning breakfast meetings or after hours get-togethers to accommodate everyone.
  • Pick a “can't-miss-it” exhibit location. While a company cannot choose the location of the trade show or exhibition, it can often choose the location of the stand if reservations are made as early on as possible. When choosing stand location, consider that many attendees will be travelling via public transport and pick a location that they cannot miss seeing as they arrive.
  • Be sure to speak the language. Not all visitors may speak English. Have translators on hand to convey your message in a clear manner so that there are no misunderstandings. Better yet, look for bilingual exhibit personnel.

There is no doubt that planning an exhibit that is relevant to the people of another culture is a big challenge. However, the payoff can be more than worth it. With proper research and planning, a company can reach out to new clients who have the potential to help a business grow globally.


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