In his latest blog, CDEMN Operations Director Ben Gilhespy looks at why the addition of the Incubator Zone could be the missing link for Durham Oktoberfest.

Big companies haven’t always been big, just like small businesses won’t always be small.

So how does a company make this transition, growing from the micro end of the scale to a successful SME with a multi-million pound turnover employing tens, if not hundreds of people?

Of course, this can take many years but two of the key conduits to success are brand awareness and business relationships. Potential customers need to know who you are and what services and/or products are on offer.

These two critical factors sit at the heart of our new Incubator Zone at Oktoberfest. This is aimed specifically at companies who support or work in the engineering and manufacturing sector and are either new or have never engaged in marketing activity of this type before.

We know that Oktoberfest is a proven platform to winning new business. Each year exhibiting companies forge links with potential buyers and suppliers – links which are then being turned into contracts, and sizeable contracts at that.

However, the Oktoberfest team is aware of the misconceptions concerning exhibitions, including that they are predominantly aimed at larger businesses. This, with a small budget and lack of experience, can lead many to exclude themselves from exhibiting for fear that it will not produce the much needed sales they require.

So, working with our Business Durham colleagues in the DBOP (Durham Business Opportunities Programme) team and LEC Communications and Design, supported by ERDF funding, we’ve created the Incubator Zone. This is a dedicated area for 20 plus exhibitors from across County Durham who fit a set criteria and are each looking to put their business on the radar of those companies that they could be supplying their products and services to.

Participating companies are also given intensive pre-event support to ensure they’re in the strongest possible position to capitalise on their involvement with Oktoberfest. This has also included support with the design and supply or marketing materials to help with their promotion.

So, what’s our goal? We want these businesses to find the sort of success that will bring them back to Oktoberfest next year as a main exhibitor with a great story of new clients and suppliers achieved through their experience in the Incubator Zone!