By Petra Kaiser, Senior Director of International Exhibitions

International Markets

Opening a new business or expanding overseas can be a tremendous challenge for companies.

Socio-economic instabilities, fluctuating currency exchange, trade barriers, cultural nuances, and last but not least, the overall high cost of doing business – all have the potential to serve as barriers for entering international markets. Oftentimes, these factors can make success seem unobtainable. 

Trade shows are one important tool that can help navigate these challenges. However, hundreds of trade shows are held worldwide every year. At their best, they offer a platform for meaningful connections between sellers and buyers and a unique opportunity to meet face to face and get business done. On the flip side, they can represent a further strain on participants’ resources, especially in times of volatility when budgets are tight and personnel is pulled into many directions. So identifying the events that truly add value becomes a vital task for exhibitors.

Going back in time, trade fairs first emerged in the 15th century, toward the end of the Middle Ages, in an era where merchants offered their produce and crafts for sale on market squares in major European towns. While these events became rapidly more industrial and international throughout the years, at their core they remained true to their roots as gathering points for people to sell goods to each other and exchange ideas and information. Even in today’s Digital Age, with more and more sophisticated technology providing the means to transfer information freely and quickly, detached from a physical location, the role of trade shows fundamentally remains the same.

When rebranding their companies, leveraging social media to connect with customers is top of mind for most CEOs. However, there is still no better proven method than offering buyers an opportunity to comparison shop through trade shows. In the heavy equipment industry, trade shows allow customers to view and even test machines or products of interest to them right then and there, in real time. While they are only ONE ingredient in companies’ marketing mix, trade shows remain a key component and unique branding opportunity for OEMs and service providers alike to connect with existing and new customers, as well as other potential business partners.

And nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to entering international markets. Companies can often feel challenges associated with doing so are insurmountable. Therefore, it's crucial for organizations, especially ones without existing local partners or subsidiaries, to do their homework in advance of entering a market – from market studies and engine emissions directives to legal, tax and intellectual property regulations. At the same time, there is often nothing better than a first-hand, personal experience in order to “test the waters” and better understand the different realities and true potential of various markets. Trade shows can offer the platform to facilitate this process and the connections needed to enter new markets, especially for small and medium-size companies.

The equipment industry as a whole still faces challenges internationally. However, as companies continuously dive deeper into a globalized economy, it is important for them to ensure they are well-prepared to address the unique set of challenges often encountered when conducting business in different countries.

Ultimately, it is indispensable for exhibitors to have a consistent and engaged presence in international markets in order to “weather the storm” and take advantage of long-term business potential, and trade shows create the platform to help facilitate these opportunities.

In the end, this might be trade shows’ biggest asset, domestically but in particular internationally, to help participants make connections and establish long-term relationships that lead to increased, sustained business opportunities. To learn more about AEM’s portfolio of U.S.-based and international construction equipment trade shows, visit https://www.aem.org/events/trade-shows/.

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