Exhibiting Success in the Middle East

Words provided by Expo Stars

You only need to take one look at the active exhibition calendar in the Middle East to see the size and scope of opportunities in the region.

With such a thriving exhibition scene, both local and international businesses have the perfect opportunity to create new leads, nurture relationships and promote their products or services. But how can businesses exhibiting in the Middle East get the most out of the experience?

The perfect plan

Planning is one of the top priorities when it comes to maximising your results at exhibitions in the Middle East.

Firstly, start by checking that the show is the right fit for your business, products or services, and target audience before you commit to anything. And make sure you have a clear objective of what you want to achieve as a result of exhibiting.

Your exhibition strategy should also cover how you’re going to drive traffic to your stand, what questions to ask to qualify leads, what data you need to capture and how you can leave a positive, lasting impression to the prospects you meet.

Secondly, from a logistics point of view, you need to make sure you start organising how to get your booth, samples and marketing materials to the venue at least a few months well in advance – especially if you’ve got a long way to travel.

Check local regulations to confirm what you can ship into the country. There can be restrictions on items such as some food and drugs, as well as declaration required on medicines, films, books, plants and other items.

Thirdly, you need to start planning your meetings around six months ahead of the exhibition itself. Business in the Middle East is built on trust and relationships. If you’re a newcomer to the Middle East exhibition scene, you’ll have to invest more time into building these relationships. Schedule meetings in advance, then during the exhibition you can focus on developing these all-important relationships face-to-face.

If you’re an international business, make sure you have people on your stand who can speak Arabic, and familiarise yourself with the local culture and formalities, such as dress codes.

Check your tech

We’re seeing more and more exhibitors getting creative with their use of technology to engage with attendees. But only use it if it adds to your offering and helps you communicate your desired messages. 

Tech should complement – not replace – people. Especially in regions such as the Middle East where relationships and building trust is the foundation of business. So make sure you have competent and engaging booth staff who can communicate effectively.

Trust the process

Businesses exhibiting in the region should go with the mindset not to sell, but to connect, educate and inform.

Face-to-face meetings with your target audience are the perfect opportunity to see how you can help your contacts by listening to their needs and wants. Demonstrate the value of your offering, by all means, but focus on developing the relationships. The months that follow an exhibition are the time to warm up your leads and demonstrate how you can help them.

From creating new leads to staying ahead of the competition, exhibiting in the Middle East is an exciting prospect for many businesses, whether they’re based in the Middle East or from overseas. To be successful you must focus on finding the right contacts, establishing yourself in the right circles and earning trust in an authentic, genuine way.

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