With the Nikkei Show about to start on March 8th, we have been busy in the Japan office with preparations ranging from designing the pavilion to hiring translators and making hotel reservations. Of most importance to participating members though is our pre-show marketing efforts.
In the past this has meant a lot of “legwork” right before the show where we would set up meetings with potential buyers and do pre-show visits before the members arrived. The goal always is to generate interest in members’ products with the potential buyers and then set-up a meeting with them at the show. However, with only two of us in the office and all of the other preparations we have to work on as well as the fact that we have good contacts across Japan, I realized that we needed to think of more efficient ways of reaching out to our clients. This is especially so with products that need to be targeted at architects (we have about 9,500 Japanese industry contacts in our database of which a large majority are architects). For these reasons I decided to try an approach emphasizing “more clickwork and less legwork” before this year’s Nikkei Show.
My basic idea was to expand on our e-marketing activities leading up to the show and spend less time (and money!) on traveling for face-to-face meetings. One change was to spend more time on our Japanese e-Newsletter. In the past, we made only one edition of it introducing all of the members taking part in the show and then sent out a few reminder e-mails. This time we made 6 editions of the newsletter so we could have more detailed articles on each member as well as use more images. As a result, over a 3 week period we sent out over 25,000 e-mails! Our IT people are worried that we will blow-up over server if we keep this up.
In addition to the e-Newsletters, we also sent out several hundred “personal e-mails” to people we thought had the highest probability of starting business with specific members taking part this time. The e-mails were simple text messages as they were supposed to be “personal,” but in order to get enough information to the contacts I created Japanese web-pages for members by using Unbounce.com. This is a great service that makes it so simple to create and host “landing pages” (it’s like making a website using Powerpoint). Unbounce also allows you to create “calls to action” forms like for seminar sign-ups, appointment requests, etc in addition to tracking hits.
While these e-mails and newsletters went out to our current contacts, we also wanted to reach out to new people. To do this I have been tweeting away on our Japanese Twitter page as well as taking full advantage of the networking features on the Nikkei Show’s website. From last year they began a service where people could ask exhibitors questions online from a few months in advance of the show. I must admit I was skeptical about this service as I didn’t think serious people would be spending time on the site if they were going to the show anyway. However, we have been responding to all the questions and as a result have set-up several meetings for members with new contacts.
Also, after not conducting large scale mail outs in the past few years, we decided to do one targeting all of the architects within the Greater Tokyo area in our database. This came to over 1300 people! The reason we decided to do this was that we are working with the WRCEA to promote cedar to architects and we have several participating members who also specifically need to target architects. As the Nikkei Show is geared to architects it seemed like a good fit to send tickets and invite our architect contacts to the show.
Electronic marketing will never replace face-to-face sales meetings, especially in Japan where relationships are so important, but it can definitely help organizations reach out to larger audiences than would otherwise be possible. One of the reasons we were able to shift from legwork to clickwork this time was because I knew well in advance of the show which members were coming so I had actually been talking to Japanese clients about them since last year. As a result, we were able to be more efficient in setting up meetings before the show. By the end of this week we should know if this strategy really can bring out our target clients to Big Sight.