Exciting leads for our city and it's all down to doing our MIPIM homework

This week, let’s talk MIPIM.

MIPIM is branded as the world’s leading property exhibition and is held each March in Cannes, France. I’ll come back to the ‘Cannes factor’ a little later.

The show is organised by the world’s largest events organiser, Reed Exhibitions. Any business that has attended a trade show, seeking customers or suppliers, will most likely have been a customer of Reed.

Today, Reed is holding the World Travel Show in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the China Laboratory and Technical show in Guangzhou, China.

In many respects, Reed personifies the inevitably global nature of doing business today – the need to go out and seek customers. They simply provide the platform for doing so.

MIPIM is a mammoth show and, in truth, it’s hard to grasp its sheer scale without visiting.

It attracts 21,000 participants to its 2,000,000 square feet of exhibition space (to help comparison, there are 1,000,000 square feet of offices on Pride Park). Additionally, there are over 100 official conferences and thousands of unofficial promotional and networking events.

The role of Marketing Derby is to raise the city’s profile in order to attract investment. MIPIM provides the largest single gathering of investors on the planet – so, for us attendance is pretty much a no-brainer.

Our customers are there, our competitors are there, so we must be there too.

Each year, we take out a strong public-private sector team to represent all that’s best about Derby. This always includes representation from Derby City Council as well as representatives of the city’s property professionals, willing to act as ambassadors. Over the years, our delegation has included senior players from the University of Derby, Rolls-Royce and the Derby Telegraph.

Our exhibition stand is shared with Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, funded by the D2N2 Local Economic Partnership. The expo halls are vast and so we are co-located with Leicester, Sheffield and Lincoln and not too far from Birmingham and Stoke.

On such an international stage, it’s vitally important to make the investor journey that little easier, and for 2017 we are considering combining the whole of the Midlands into a dedicated pavilion.

So, what do we do over those intensive days?

First, it’s important to understand that you don’t rock up in Cannes, wave a brochure and come back armed with a contract.

The answer is we try to get investors’ attention, fly a flag for Derby as a ‘city on the up’ that has attracted £3billion of investment over the past ten years and has exciting opportunities in the pipeline.

We do this through a mix of events, including our landmark (and packed) Derby Embassy, together with many pre-planned one-to-one meetings.

Experience has taught us that time spent upfront, using research and intelligence to identify the investors to target for those meetings, is time well spent. In truth, Derby will only be of interest to certain players from the 21,000 present – we have evolved an effective methodology for doing this.

For 2016, our focus was the Infinity Park Derby Enterprise Zone, which opens for business next month and, of course, the city centre masterplan. In particular, communicating the likely developments and timescales emanating from the Cushman and Wakefield work for Derby City Council.

It would be great to give an insight into some of the positive leads created and so, without breaking confidences and sensitivities, I can say that leads generated included a European manufacturer, investors seeking to build upscale city living apartments and early expressions of interest in some of our toughest regeneration sites.

Touching back on MIPIM’s location in Cannes each year there are the predictable jibes about sunshine (it rained this year) and glamour (tarnished a little by the 8am out/ 8pm back Nice-Cannes train commute).

I asked around other nationalities about reaction back home and this perception of being ‘a jolly’ does seem to be a peculiarly British phenomena.

The days when UK bossed it globally are long gone. If we want to win business to grow our economy then part of that is the need to jump on planes and go to where the customer is.

Thankfully, many people, from many businesses in this city, do exactly this every day.