Trade shows have long since identified international markets as a means for attendee growth, but some countries are easier to penetrate than others. China, for example, is a large and complex market that poses many cultural and political barriers for traditional methods. But if done right, the most populous nation in the world also presents huge potential.
mdg has learned that successful attendee acquisition strategies in China start with research and getting to know the market from the inside. With more than two-thirds of the population using cell phones, it’s important to understand how media is consumed. And if you’ve ever been to China, you’ll know everyone communicates using WeChat. With more than 550 million active users, it’s the largest social network in China—and the fastest growing in the world. WeChat offers trade show marketers a dynamic, direct-to-prospect platform for branding, messaging, advertising, e-commerce—and most importantly—converting Chinese prospects into attendees.
Like making inroads into China itself, successfully navigating WeChat can be complicated. Here are some best practices mdg has learned along the way…
Get a helping hand… While WeChat is available worldwide, the Chinese government restricts access to official pages within the app to those set up in China and Taiwan. As a result, it’s very difficult for an overseas brand to apply for an official page that has visibility in China, and the process is fairly gray. The easiest way around this is to hire a consultant or deputy company with a Chinese business license to apply for you. Make sure verification is included so you get access to the advanced WeChat platform features.
Establish your presence… Once WeChat approves the account, create your Official Page. The page is set up very similarly to Facebook’s business pages where you can include your event description, who should register, branding elements, etc. Much like any content-rich platform, mdg recommends creating a content calendar, translated into Chinese, to communicate updates, news and other information relevant to attracting an international audience. Additionally, WeChat provides the opportunity to build mobile sites within the app, allowing organizers to develop and publish landing pages with key information relevant to attendee prospects.
Spread the word… Paid advertising through WeChat’s operators is restricted to organizations with official pages that have a minimum of 100,000 followers. To circumvent this requirement, mdg establishes partnerships with industry publications, events and/or associations that have official pages in China. Organizers can barter advertorial placements on these pages or pay for advertorial placements. There is no limit to the number of characters allowed in the advertorials.
Grow your community… The easiest way to get people to find your WeChat page organically is through QR codes, which are incredibly popular in Asia. QR code placements could include print advertising and other relevant promotions. Finally, as with all other social media platforms, you should include the hyperlinked WeChat icon on your official event page.