Recipes, kitchen and business
How easy conducting international business or taking your brand overseas would be if it was all spelled out for us? Bullet point after bullet point to follow, just like recreating a tasty recipe when making a cake to celebrate something or someone special. Over and over again, like that recipe of yours being the hit of the party every time you follow it, right? But what if you run out of just one ingredient and substitute it with something else? Well, this is where "the fun" begins and you want to keep on reading...
Just like we tend to burn cakes we are accustomed to make due to lack of given attention, we should know that there are no set rules to follow in order to be successful with international business encounters. Kitchen and business, you said? Yes, one has a lot to do with the other and such analogy may actually help you understand the importance of preparation stage before interacting with the international audience. You need to be flexible in making it work, put some heart into the making, be adaptable to the taste it leaves and open to adjustments when it comes to recipes for successful product...
Any trade shows are designed to draw more visibility to the businesses on a global scale and enable them to possible international collaborations. Investing in branding, outlining the marketing strategy and business acumen, as well as engaging internationally brings great results we often perceive as unimportant during the initial stage of expansion on a global scale. Isn't measuring the exact amount of flour for the cake we promised to bake for grandma a key factor in deciding whether our recipe will turn out to be well executed or not? The same goes for preparation stage when we intend on taking our brand overseas and make an impact followed by the anticipated positive results.
The right ingredients
The actual cost for any trade shows with global audience engagement often exceeds initially set budgets, but proper investments we shall make will leave us with the sweet memory of a well planned and organized gathering. Just like that glazed red cherry on the top of the icing on the cake...Tasteful!
Any global commitment brings new ideas, forces to re-shift marketing strategies and do a little more research before we set the next event. Better knowledge leads to a greater success, then success points to measurable expectations from each trade show experience and therefore some processes get adjusted moving forward. It is just like when we find out that our dear granny does not tolerate gluten and therefore flour we are so used to buy for baking the cake for her will have to be now substituted with gluten free one. A small adjustment for a better outcome equals a way to avoid problems...
Again, if it was only that easy...
Many US based companies while participating in trade shows often forget their real audience and existing cultural differences that can "make or break" the business deals. They either do not pay much attention to cultural sensitivity and think that what works in US will always work abroad or actually forget to focus on doing their diligence and getting prepared. Learning about the background of your potential clients, getting to know the foreign market you intend to target, analyzing best strategies that work when signing a business deal and sometimes even investing in localization services is always a good idea. When you know who you are working with and what actually resonates with them, it is easier to find a common ground and ultimately close the deal successfully. Just like if your granny only likes fruit cakes, you would not bring her chocolate dessert, would you?
Once all your marketing/ branding approach is finally figured out (just like having all necessary ingredients ready for baking), you are somewhat ready to tap to the global market. There is one more thing to remember, and it is greasing the pan (figuring out the exhibition component and it's impact)! In order to make sure the business is conducted and received enthusiastically, you must take under consideration several things.
Time and taste
Invest time in checking the standards for the exhibition settings overseas as they can differ from US norms (rules and regulations for the specific country and customized designs that will speak to the audience, space requirements, etc). Hire skilled and trained interpreter to assist you when limited English speakers approach you during the event and want to elaborate more on the products/services you offer. Learn how to pronounce foreign names and use appropriate greetings when interacting with others. Take some time to learn about the communication styles in the countries you plan to have your exhibit in. Showing awareness on cultural aspects will always win your audience over, as well as knowing what subjects are OK to discuss and what you should just avoid mentioning will go a long way during "meet and mingle" time. Respect their personal space, perhaps hugs and hand shakes are not how they do business and you will need to learn how to bow to earn respect...
You can go even further and have main product pamphlets and brochures ready in the languages spoken in the region where the event is taking place to minimize the communication barrier, show cultural sensitivity and ultimately gain more trust. Having a local expert in the foreign to you language engaged and also familiar with the industry will make a huge difference. Just make sure all written materials are not only edited, proofread ahead of time, but also localized properly to fit the style of the audience you are aiming your business at.
Evaluate how your products/services are actually tailored to fit the needs for the new marketplace. What unique value proposition do your products and services offer for the targeted region of business?
Tie, target and a "piece of cake"
Another important piece would be engaging with a regional partner for any freight/ labor requirements for the event set up. Any direct assistance can ease the headache with pre-payment / taxes and any other financial obligations that may exist. Whether you decide to arrange everything locally, or take care of it in the domestic country, will make actually a difference in your net cost, if your budget has set targets to meet.
Also last, but not the least; make sure you know how to dress as what may be appropriate for US market shows may not exactly work in Japan or elsewhere where a formal attire is preferred. And always wear a badge, as this small white piece of paper will help other exhibitors, visitors and potential clients to address and acknowledge you in a proper manner.
Now, you can be certain that the anticipated for so long exhibit taking place next month will be a "piece of cake". You've got this!
Proceeding with caution
Always remember that you must respect what you see as different if you want to be perceived as a valuable business unit and succeed at any global event you will participate in. It will help you not only with selling your services and products at international trade shows, but also with truly engaging the right audience. Trust is built on knowledge and understanding each other, plus without trust, there is no solid business foundation and your business may sink, just like undercooked cake. Always be cautious in your international business encounters, make sure to ask the right questions if you need more clarity and repeat/ rephrase the responses to make sure you understood as intended. Cultural differences too often translate to unforeseen problems if effective communication is not established and there is lack of understanding between the parties. Educational piece is like eggs or water for the cake dough as it molds it all together.
There is simply no right or wrong way, there is only a different way. So, educate yourself on cultural distinctions and best ways to tackle them, embrace the differences and you will score big time!
So, where are you going now? Russia, Indonesia or Japan? Ready, set, go!