Your company exhibits around the globe—with each region creating its program completely independently. Is it time to pursue greater consistency and establish some sort of resource sharing or even a consolidated global program?
The bigger question is this: Is your company ready to—and capable of achieving this shift?
The benefits of consolidation go beyond cost savings. Centralizing the strategic direction and content of your trade show program builds a unified presence and drives global brand recognition. Disseminating information from a single corporate office, simplifies communications and establishes clear performance goals. Defining world-wide data collection and ROI measurement functions, drives apple-to-apple comparisons from year-to-year and region-to-region.
And while everyone agrees that these benefits are worth pursuing, not every company can pull this off. For the many companies for whom a truly global program is a no-brainer, there are an equal number of companies whose corporate policy, politics and/or personalities create hurdles that make merging diverse regional programs into a global program impractical—or even impossible.
And if the attempt isn't likely to succeed, it's better to wait, or move toward this goal slowly—than to just jump in.
So how do you determine if your company is ready? 3D Exhibits' extensive experience has taught us that the best starting place is to assess the following six items:
- Does marketing cooperate globally? If your company already has centralized marketing—where there is some sharing of communication and directives between the various countries and/or business units—there is a good chance that a centralized exhibit program will work as well. But if your various countries and business units all work independently with little or no cooperation, you're going to have a very hard time bringing consistency to the exhibit program.
- Do the other divisions/regional offices of your company agree that this is the right step? Success requires that team members cooperate and share information across divisions, countries and cultures. Beyond the exhibit marketing team, other internal constituents, such as purchasing and fabrication, need to support the consolidation, as well.
- Is whoever is in charge willing to give the regions some autonomy? Even the most comprehensive global exhibiting program relies on the local event team to handle some aspects of the program. Naturally, locals are best equipped to understand the local culture, develop audience-appropriate messaging, and manage face-to-face interactions. Taking advantage of local insight, and making the necessary adjustments, ensures that your exhibit program resonates around the world.
- Is there a high-level champion for the program? It takes more than enthusiasm to create a global exhibiting program. In order to succeed, the person driving consolidation must be empowered to lead by upper management.
- Has someone been designated as the program lead/decision maker? Program success requires putting procedures in place and clarifying corporate versus local roles. Although better local buy-in will be achieved by doing this by committee, ultimately someone has to be empowered to make the final decisions.
- Do you have management buy-in? I know it sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how many companies pursue a global consolidation without upper management support—only to fail. And this means management at a level above all of the regions whose cooperation your program's success depends on. Management that is prepared to enforce compliance. Without this, there is no reason for other regions to cooperate. And inevitably, some of them won't. There is always at least one colleague who will see this as a turf war and refuse to play. Or worse, pretend to play, then continue to do whatever they've done in the past.
Is there any additional advice you would offer to colleagues at other companies on implementing a successful consolidated global trade show program? Please share. We'd love to know.