It has been said many times that there is a simple method for getting ahead in business. The path to success, in other words to get what you want, is to give other people what they desire or need.

Companies that serve huge numbers of these desires or needs become stellar multi-national organisations like Apple Computer, Microsoft, Samsung and Virgin to name four well known success story brands.

How is it that a formula that sounds so simple, can be so hard to achieve, especially for smaller businesses?

Preoccupation with what we want can be dangerous.

Very often in life and in business, we get pre-occupied with what we want or need.

Companies have stock that needs to be shifted, skills in a workforce that need to be applied and supplied to people who will pay for those skills.

The temptation when marketing a business, especially if it has been trading for some time is to focus on what that business needs to achieve. The sales growth to be attained, the client contracts to be won. Marketing plans are then created to achieve those goals.

This is natural but dangerous because in the process you can forget who it is that your business actually exists to serve.

By shifting your focus away, or by allowing it to drift from the people in the niche that you serve, you run the risk of being less relevant to the very people who should most want what you have to offer.

And you may miss spotting new problems and challenges that are affecting them. Remember that, their problems, are your opportunities.

Problem solving marketing: What are the problems?

In a previous article I wrote about the importance of knowing very clearly what it is that your company can do better than most others. Another way of expressing this could be to say that;

You know which problems your company is best able to solve for exhibitors or organisers.

Exhibitor Problems

For exhibitors, many problems stem from a lack of knowledge about making the most of face to face marketing.

This is because most exhibitors are not full-time events people. In their day jobs they may work in marketing, sales or administration. How can you and your company make their lives easier, less stressful and more productive? How can you help or show them how to win back more of their time?

What solutions and expertise can you offer for good looking stands and displays on tight budgets?

Or, for exhibiting in small spaces or building large stands within short timeframes? What innovations can you offer that will not only improve how a stand looks but help move exhibiting results upwards from where they are now? In short, how do you help exhibitors to become more successful?

Organiser problems

For exhibition and event organisers, problems include dealing with shorter build and removal periods within venues; losing too many novice exhibitors after each event; dealing with a lack of event skills among newly hired staff; international competition; venue rate rises and late bookings by exhibitors and sponsors.

#If your business is tuned into the pressures that organisers face and if you offer solutions that help one or more of these situations, in addition to being excellent at building stands and show features, organising logistics, supplying furniture, or whatever it is you do….

Then your business is very likely to be seen as one that brings something of value to the organiser. And, you are less likely to be viewed as a commodity supplier.

It’s time to think

Before kicking-off your marketing campaign for the year ahead, take time to think about your clients, both current and hoped-for. What are the problems or pressures that they are facing? Have any new issues arisen for them over the past year? Has your company advanced and gained a competitive advantage of some kind that you didn’t offer previously? If so, how will this help your clients? Identify the advantages that you offer and the benefits that your clients will enjoy. List them. Rank them and then get ready to promote them.

Why conventional advertising and promotion won’t move you fast-forward

If you take a conventional approach to promoting your business, if you talk about the quality of your product, the number of years that you have been working within events, the fact that you have many satisfied clients etc….You are missing a huge opportunity.

Why? Because the features listed above offer no immediate problem-solving benefit to a client.

That’s not to say that ads or emails phrased in this way won’t generate leads. They may well do, but generally they will also get you into a quoting scenario where you must pitch against other businesses to win the work. When this occurs you are being commoditised by the potential client.

Educational marketing is much more powerful

But if your copy and messaging educates prospective clients about specific problems and how you solve them a would-be client can see straightaway, what’s in it for them.

This is much more powerful.

In this case your marketing messages appeal more strongly because they resonate with exhibitors or organisers facing the issue or issues that you have identified. Prospective clients receiving these messages are much more likely to be in a buying frame of mind because you have hit a sweet spot. You have shown empathy.

You get what they need or feel and more importantly, you have a solution to their problem.

And over time, if you keep educating the niche that you serve, if you consistently demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, you will build a market-leading position. Your business will be seen as the go-to solution provider.

So get really good at spotting and solving problems because if you do, they, your new found clients, will start solving yours.

The views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ESSA, its members, board or staff. Our members represent a broad range of views within the event industry, and we have provided this section of the website for their opinions to be openly heard and discussed.

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