The sales force we [marketing] serve is asking for our help to set a foot in the client’s door: bring me face to face with a potential client, they say, and I will do all the heavy lifting.
To do: bring sales guy in front of potential client. Or even better, in front of several prospects, which can be found in clusters at industry events.
Working from the headquarters to discover the interesting events in another country is part of the initial research that models your marketing decisions for the respective market: participation, sponsorships, product showcasing, exhibiting your company products, giving a speech.
But what makes an event relevant for you and how you can track it down, that’s quite a complicate story. On one hand, you want to be present in your industry’s gatherings, and have a share of voice equal to your competitors’; on the other hand, you definitely must promote your services and value in front of decision-makers from your target industries.
In both cases, when I was searching remotely the right events to include in my company’s calendar, I had troubles finding consistent industry events in some countries. Even if I sneaked at local competitors’ announced participations, dug for local associations gatherings, scanned for target market leaders’ conferences, in some cases I had to give up without finding anything satisfying.
But rest assured, in such cases some organizer always notices the void and goes at least regional, so rather than trifling with national fairs and conferences, scan the bigger picture. Sure you lose that pinpoint focus, but you gain broader exposure and bigger audience.
Eventually, I stumbled upon the Euro Fair Statistics published by UFI – The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, with the following country by country figures for 2011:
To my knowledge, this is not a comprehensive situation of the European events activity, but it can be scaled up keeping these country-by-country proportions. For Romania, I see there were only 7 major fairs & exhibitions audited by Centrex that took place in Bucharest, Cluj and Arad, from a far more active industry in reality, with tens of b2b events yearly. On the other hand, I do recall having a very hard time finding consistent vertical events in Bulgaria, even with local support to do the on-site research.
Final note, relevant if you're working in computer industry: in 2011, from the 2,250 events and fairs in all the European countries above, [only] 2% were addressed to IT & Telecom, while Central and Eastern Europe are expected to generate nearly $158 billion in IT spending in 2012 [Gartner].