Marketing in unusual times

Interview with Matthias Hain, Director of Marketing at DARCO (Europe) GmbH

Digitalisation has gained tremendous momentum in the design and implementation of market-related activities this year. The worldwide pandemic is pushing organisers, exhibitors and speakers into new communication formats – especially in the area of trade fairs.

As an internationally operating company in the health industry, the exchange with users, specialist retailers and scientific associations is a top priority for DARCO. But how well does good communication still work in times like these?

What is DARCO's approach as one of the market leaders for orthopaedic devices and shoes?

In marketing, we experience this time as a phase of new challenges and opportunities. It is, of course, regrettable if important major events such as OTWorld in Leipzig, EWMA in London or the traditional, international Munich symposium for foot surgery cannot take place as usual this year. Cultivating trusting and good business relationships through personal contact is our strongest communication tool. This is not so easy to replace virtually. The on-site "industry overview" this year is also different to usual.

DARCO now also participates in digital trade fairs. What has your experience been?

We see that many companies in the industry are faced with the challenge of processing content in such a way that it reaches the customer digitally without obstacles. Some exhibitors have put this year completely on hold. We have used the time to try out new formats and approaches. We put a lot of energy into visual language, whether it is in photo galleries or videos. Of course we used many digital formats even before the pandemic, but at virtual trade fairs DARCO, like everyone else, faces exciting challenges.

What are the obstacles? What are the opportunities?

One obstacle is, of course, the lack of touch at the virtual stand. In the digital exhibition world, customers cannot touch the product. Things like weight, the surface and the material are crucial to evaluate the product and get to know it better. We want to compensate this shortcoming as much as possible.

In marketing, however, we also see many new opportunities in increasing digitalisation. Trade fairs are changing, medical supply stores are moving into the next generation, distributors are increasingly focusing on web training, and communication channels are broadening. This is why we at DARCO now increasingly produce videos on various topics, focusing on product information that makes the product "come to life" from a variety of perspectives. Product sampling is also a crucial tool of choice. Our aim is, therefore, to support product sampling and to make it as easy as possible for customers to learn about new products and developments.

Of course, the meeting place for exchange shifts. But it also brings some advantages. The restrictions of time and place are eliminated, we try out new ways of communication and our team travels less, which is an ecological plus.

What new opportunities for contact do you offer virtual trade fair visitors?

We rely on interaction through several channels. We guide visitors through our new product world and direct them to our employees via a variety of functions. The service we are known for remains as customers know it, whether in the real or digital world.

You have new developments that you can now only announce to the market to a limited extent. What is your strongest voice in these times?

To be honest, personal customer contact is the most important thing. But we also see the current situation as an opportunity to explore new communication channels. We are now adapting our formats more quickly to meet demand and some digital training is already coming close to demands. In many areas it is a mix of both. This puts us on a firm footing.

Part 2: Marketing with Matthias Hain



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