Offshore Europe, the biennial exhibition and conference for the international oil and gas industry held in Aberdeen, will soon be upon us once again. The event has been a staple in the industry calendar for more than 40 years. But with a new venue – P&J Live at Bucksburn on the western outskirts of the city –, it’s a good time for exhibitors to rethink their approach to the show.
While the themes, approaches and even layout of the event have changed over the years, the format has basically stayed the same and is unlikely to change.
I’ve been a regular attender of Offshore Europe since 2003, and while there are many others with a longer record than mine, I have certainly picked up a few tips over that time.
There are two parts to Offshore Europe: an exhibition for showcasing the commercial benefits of products, and a conference, where industry leaders share thoughts on best practices or new technologies through presentations or authored papers in a non-commercial way. It’s a format used at all the industry’s major trade shows and its enduring appeal is testimony to its success.
But while the framework of Offshore Europe is well established, that doesn’t mean your approach to it always has to be the same. Indeed, the rapid advances in the ways and methods of communication in recent years can mean doing things the way you always have can be seriously detrimental to your business.
Here’s why. I often – usually from sales people – hear the comment: “Of course, you never win business at a show, it’s in the months afterwards that leads start coming in.” Like many others, I’ve gone along with that notion for years, but with the benefit of today’s communications technology, I now question it. Why should companies not expect to win business at a show, especially considering how much a stand and space has cost it? The reason is because the exhibition is historically thought of as being near the start of the buyer journey when it should be at the end.
Nowadays, advances in website functionality and social media mean the vast majority of purchasing decisions can be well advanced before a potential customer makes verbal contact with a supplier.
Identification of the kinds of people you want to reach to win their business (target personas) and an understanding of the communication channels and messaging they respond to (are they fans of LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, or do they like to read a magazine or paper?) can alert your next new customer to the benefits of your products or services in advance of Offshore Europe. The next step is to simply arrange to meet up at the show.
Using communication tactics in this way means your target lead knows as much as possible about your business before they meet you at the show. The face-to-face introduction on your stand at Offshore Europe then becomes the point at which you can seal the deal.
You may think you’ve missed your chance to do this work. You haven’t, but time is getting tight. We can help you. To learn more about winning business at Offshore Europe talk to us.