Anyone who has attended an industry exhibition at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center knows it can be an overwhelming experience. There are scores of exhibitors on each floor with only minor restrictions on how much noise, light or showgirl flesh each can parade in a bid to attract footfall to their booth. The result is a dizzying assault on the senses, and a great opportunity to assess communications strategy.
Let’s take the recent 2016 Automation Intelligence and Robot Show in early September as an example. This is a good example because President Tsai Yingwen has prioritized the success and growth of the smart machinery sector, pledging to reshape Taiwan’s global competitiveness through state support for such innovative and forward-looking industries.
According to the latest economic data, August machinery company output in Taiwan fell 2.76% on the year, even as overall industrial output index rose 7.74%. Smart and automated machinery was credited as helping the machinery sector arrest a slump that had seen growth decline in the double digits for the last 11 months.
The takeaway from these figures and my experience at the exhibition is that Taiwan has a lot of work to do to achieve its desired role in the global smart machinery supply chain. One reason for this is the failure of its companies to take communications strategy seriously.
Firstly, most exhibitors omitted to provide any information in another language apart from Chinese. The show is an opportunity to connect with international partners, so more effort must be made to communicate with them in their own language, or at least in English as well as Chinese.
There were very few slogans on show either. This is partly a consequence of B2B companies in Taiwan assuming that they do not need to focus on communications because everyone in their business either knows who they are or at least what they are talking about. This is false and evinces a very narrow-minded view that also implicitly negates any ambition to be more successful or reach a wider audience.
If there was a slogan, it was something prosaic like “Your Industry 4.0 Best Partner”. This slogan is a waste of time because “best” is not qualified. Does it mean best value, best innovation, best as a longterm partner, best at adapting to your needs, best international experience?
At their most basic, good communications should clearly express where a company’s core value lies. The most incisive means of doing this is through a slogan. The slogan should lead all communications and provide a focus around which to build additional content that helps a potential customer or partner identify whether this company can supply what they are looking for.
Below the slogan information should be classified in terms of a pyramid structure that is a result of serious thought about what the company wants to communicate about itself. There is no fixed order, but the hierarchy should account for both what the company feels it can bring to the table as well as what potential partners or customers are looking for. Far too often a company assumes that its value is obvious and simply fails to communicate it, or if it does, fails to do so in a way that makes sense to potential customers.
For example, if the slogan is “Best Industry 4.0 Partner for Innovation”, the second layer of the communications pyramid might include evidence of where the company has innovated as well as awards it has received, with a third layer explaining more about how these innovations have assisted clients. This is not rocket science. Indeed, it is a formula followed by the world’s best companies in automation and robotics. Germany’s Dürr, which supplies mechanical and plant engineering firms with automation expertise, carries the slogan “Leading in Production Efficiency.” It may not be the catchiest slogan of all time, but it clearly states what a partner should expect to gain from working with them. Japan’s Epson leads with the catch-all slogan “Exceed Your Vision” but supplements this with a tagline about its robotics offering: “#1 in Ease of Use”. This is followed up with a detailed explanation of the company’s history in designing systems that are easy to use, again providing the customer with a solid lead as to why they should choose Epson as a supplier.
As Taiwan embarks on a drive to promote its smart machinery companies at international events in Chicago and elsewhere, it is about time they, and other industries in a similar position, took a lead from the world’s best companies and gave serious consideration to what it is they are promoting and how they intend to communicate it.
Of course, providing this information requires companies to understand their value in the first place. In the second part of this segment, we will talk with the Executive Director of the German Trade Office about why Germany is choosing to partner with Taiwan in the area of Industry 4.0.
Photo Credit: IENET