Given the cost involved in exhibiting at MIPIM, it is critical that you create distinction whilst you are there.
Now that all the ‘besuited lanyarders’ have departed from the not so sunny beachfront of Cannes, we reflect on the way different locations and organisations attempted to stand out from those around them, and offer a thought on how to be more effective.
Whilst the offer of sake from Japan, whiskey from the Scottish Cities and a decent coffee from Capco at the London Stand all proved popular, the solution to real distinction must lie in expressing the core benefit that is at the heart of your offer.
Most exhibitors simply tell you who they are and offer a shopping list of features and facts. Geography and scale tend to be the only attempts to differentiate one place from another; but geography is a given, and scale needs unpacking. Given how many messages one is exposed to at MIPIM, such a generic approach risks neither standing out nor remaining in the mind of people once they have returned to their desks the following Monday morning.
Including all the facts and features in the hope of creating as wide an appeal as possible - sometimes known as the ‘catalogue mindset’ - can prevent a more singular benefit from being communicated. By analogy, throw six balls at a person and they are likely to drop them all; throw one and the chances are that they will catch it.
Getting to a singular thought is not easy and it is not surprising that most shy away from it. But if you do develop a strong core thought - one that suggests a clear benefit to the target audience - the chances are that your offer will be more distinctive and your marketing more effective.
In short, be clear what you stand for, and then make a stand for it in all of your marketing (figuratively, and in the case of MIPIM, literally).
For us the single best example at MIPIM of this approach was from Stockholm. A well-placed banner above the main entrance to the Palais invited all delegates to “Meet the unicorn factory”.
This elegant simple phrase - coined originally we believe by a Financial Times journalist - immediately positions Stockholm in peoples’ minds. Is it the whole truth about Stockholm? Clearly not. But is it a truth that can provide focus for the city’s promotion? Undoubtedly yes.
This phrase which refers to the number of start-up companies now valued at over $1bn based in Stockholm, is not simply an attempt to attract yet more tech start-up businesses but to provide a basis for the appeal of the city more generally. It is shorthand for commercial success, international business (you don’t get to over $1bn by only speaking Swedish), a young well-educated workforce, supportive government, future-facing society and lifestyle and so on - all things which are attractive to anyone considering investment of any kind.
Such a single - minded focus seemed largely absent elsewhere. On the London stand, the messages of each borough or opportunity area - geography, scale and connectivity - seemed to merge together. The biggest this or that, only minutes from somewhere else. But as London’s man-made topography undergoes continued major change - no longer the centre merely surrounded by the suburbs and the green belt beyond - so too does each borough and district need to position itself more clearly and distinctly to attract the kind of desired investment to transform each particular place into what it hopes to be.
Whilst this more single-minded approach was not evident from the way areas presented themselves on the London Stand, there was an example - almost a footnote - in an entry in the London Stand directory which showed a kernel of an idea that could be expanded into a distinctive positioning. It was for Ealing, which described itself as “the capital of West London”. Now there’s a thought, maybe.