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It is estimated that there are almost 4,000 exhibitions, conferences and trade shows around the world each year across a broad variety of sectors. More than half of those global trade shows are held in Europe; a third of which are in Germany alone. These shows are still considered to be an effective way to strengthen client relationships and assume your position as a key player on the world stage. Autumn especially is usually an extremely busy period so many of you would ordinarily have been preparing your name badges and replenishing stocks of business cards in the coming weeks with a view to catching up with familiar faces and forging new alliances too.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of those exhibitions have now been cancelled or postponed due to Covid 19, but what did your organisation do when the email came through that the show was cancelled?

To get the very best return on any investment into an exhibition involves an incredible amount of work before a show. I am not just talking here about thumbing through merchandise catalogues to decide which freebies to give away during the show as energy levels wain and footfall drops off. An exhibition is a major marketing tool for international trade and as such needs to be approached strategically, methodically and commercially sustainably. Preparation is everything.

Chances are that your sales, marketing and product managers were working on preparations for a good few months before there was even a mention of Wuhan or pandemics. I know from my client base for whom we deliver bespoke German, French and Russian language courses specifically for preparing for international exhibitions, course preparations were well underway late Spring for Autumn shows.

Your preparations may have included press and PR content, securing conference speaker slots, designing mailouts to current, dormant and prospective clients to secure meetings, creating product launch information, in several languages usually, undertaking competitor and market innovation research. And yes, of course preparing to attend the obligatory after-hours beer and sausage party  at one of the larger German stands.

So here’s a thought. Even though your particular show/event was cancelled or postponed did you still go ahead and engage remotely with those target clients that you were planning or hoping to “meet”. Did you still approach the overseas trade magazine editor and get your content published anyway, translated first obviously ?. Did you investigate if there was a virtual show being staged in the interim.

And if not, why not? You have done all the preparatory work so get on and implement it and chances are your competition won’t have done.

Hopefully, the Spring tradeshow season will enable us to get back to face to face engagement again, but in the interim use this challenge as a new opportunity.

HW Language Services offers online and in-house foreign language tuition to businesses