Download a PDF of Foster Marketing’s Trade Shows By the Numbers infographic.
The experts at Foster Marketing are often asked to share their insights with industry professionals and participate in forums on trends in our field. This article was written by Trade Show Expert Megan Hebert to be shared with the exhibitors at this year’s East Texas Oilfield Expo. As trade season is in full swing, we wanted to share this article with all our readers as pre-show marketing is a key part of any show. Enjoy!
By Megan Hebert, Trade Show Coordinator, Foster Marketing
As the trade show quickly approaches and your to-do list is growing, I’m sure you’re considering ways to maximize your investment of time and money. What can we do (or should we have done) to have a successful and rewarding show? Trade shows by nature call for a large marketing investment (money, time, travel … more time). To ensure your participation is worthwhile, do not overlook the ever powerful and often cost-effective initiatives utilized in pre-show marketing.
Effective event marketing should begin months before the event, but often times exhibitors do not have that luxury. Whether you’ve been planning for more than a year or only have a few weeks before opening day, the appropriate pre-show marketing efforts help get the word out and build momentum leading up to an event.
And, yes, show organizers have a responsibility to promote their event. If it’s a quality group, then promotion will be a high priority and be executed well. However, your investment is too large to not take personal responsibility to promote the show and ensure customers, prospects and media know where to find you!
As trade show coordinator for many clients across the oil and gas industry, we’ve implemented numerous strategic and creative pre-show marketing campaigns to broadcast our client’s message — and to get traffic to their booth. Where’s your campaign?
- What are your objectives? Trade show marketing plans should be an extension of the overall marketing strategy. Are you launching a product, expanding into another area or looking to build existing client relationships or find new ones? Pre-show marketing strategies must work within your company’s overall marketing vision to secure the best results.
- What’s your plan? What tactics will help achieve your objectives? Each tactic employed is a part of the bigger overall strategy. Here’s a start …
- Strategic advertising development and placement centered on your presence at a show. Where are the right people going to see your message … and who are the “right” people?
- Sponsorships offered by the show to enhance your company’s visibility before, during and after a show.
- Development of a direct mail campaign (to both the inbox and the mailbox). A campaign puts your message in front of the right audience and if created properly, moves the recipient to action — to contact you! Most attendees plan what booths they are going to visit — make sure you’re on the list.
- Incorporation of specialty items into marketing strategy. Choose an innovative, sought-after giveaway or in-booth promotion to move traffic into your booth and provide memorability after the show is over.
- Utilize public relations. Whether it’s distributing news releases to industry media or holding a press conference during the show — take advantage of this cost-effective and powerful method of communicating.
Trade shows are only as successful as the thought and effort put in beforehand to promote your company’s message and drive traffic to your booth. Utilize the tools provided to you by the show organizers (electronic guest passes, sponsorships, networking events, advertising options, etc.), and consider the value of hiring oil and gas marketing specialists to be your partner in managing the details and making the most of your investment!
Foster Marketing handles trade show coordination for energy industry clients throughout the United States and beyond. From Salt Lake City to San Antonio and Kuala Lumpur to Rio de Janeiro, Foster Marketing’s trade show experts can be there to plan, coordinate and set your next show.
By Megan Hebert, Trade Show Coordinator for Foster Marketing
Another one in the books! For me, wrapping up another successful Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) can be compared to that feeling of liberation in school just after completing your last exam of the semester. With this year’s OTC having the highest attendance and largest exhibition since 1982 — 78,150 attendees and 603,000 square feet of exhibit space, there is no doubt the hard work of many people paid off. Yet there is little rest for the weary as the slew of international trade show events is on the horizon.
With 2011 full of large, international events — the aforementioned OTC, along with Offshore Europe, Brasil Offshore, OTC Brasil and Oil & Gas Asia…to name a few — the conscientious exhibitor is always seeking ways to ensure a successful event with measurable benefits. One group of attendees who can considerably boost a company’s ROI (but who are often overlooked) is … journalists.
Recently I stumbled across an article by Lena Valenty of EXHIBITOR Magazine in which she creatively compares exhibiting at a trade show to a blind date (stay with me here). She explains how an exhibitor has mere minutes to make a lasting first impression. An exhibitor has “carefully accessorized with graphics and key messages that accentuates its best features.” We want to appear interesting, but not overeager…confident, but not pompous, she says.
Our potential matches almost always are the most attractive customers and prospects, but Valenty encourages us not to overlook the person who may not appear to be your type on first glance…the journalist. Though perhaps not as glamorous, media representatives have the ability to spread your message in a big way. This group, tasked with delivering news and information on the industry, new products, trends and the key players, is always on the hunt for information to share with readers and viewers. Consider these steps as you aim for Press Success at your next show:
Find your audience: This legwork includes researching media representatives that will be attending the show, determining who the proper contacts are and if your products and services align properly.
Craft your message: How will you entice the journalists…and concisely? Your message should have clear positioning, product differentiation and provide compelling interest.
Book interviews: Be proactive and start booking media appointments several weeks in advance of a show…and ensure the proper executive is available to be interviewed.
Assemble your kit: Press kits are expected.
Get involved: Become involved outside of the exhibit hall. What conference components could you participate in, or what award programs could you enter? These are valuable, exhibit-marketing opportunities.
Train your staff: What role should your exhibit staff play when interacting with the media? Decide what actions they are to take, have a plan in place and share it. If they are to interact with media, there are media-training basics to follow.
Prepare your exhibit: Incorporate into your booth a quiet meeting space, if possible. Offsite meetings are often a welcomed alternative, and utilizing the press room may also be an option for conducting interviews.
Continue the conversation: Follow up with each journalist who visited your booth. Keep the conversation going and show that you are accessible. The long-term goal is to position yourself and your company as an industry expert who can serve as a source for information.
Measure the results: Hard metrics can be obtained through tracking media impressions and the number of original articles, as well as through web analytics. Also, include an overview of all media activity at the show. These reports will prove that your efforts were worth the investment.
Foster Marketing can help navigate the coordination side of your exhibit, and with our proprietary database of energy publications and established relationships, we can guide your quest for Press Success, too. Together, we can navigate through the blind dates to connect with those looking to woo us and share our company’s stories.
Let us help you improve your trade show ROI — whether you are exhibiting at a regional or international show. Email Jamie Efurd or call 281-448-3435 or 337-235-1848 to schedule a meeting with Foster Marketing to discuss how we can help integrate and enhance your marketing efforts.
By Megan Hebert, Trade Show Coordinator for Foster Marketing Communications
Throughout our careers, we all glean tips and tricks of the trade. After several years coordinating trade shows and traveling from Calgary to Kuala Lumpur, I have learned that Velcro is a must, Pledge wipes work best for Plexiglas and that when a protester runs through an exhibit hall spray painting your video screen the day before a show you must ask for a miracle.
The moral of this story is that with trade shows, you have to be prepared for everything because anything can happen.
I have always considered myself a “planner.” My datebook is organized and filled with as many details as I can cram. So, in a way, it makes sense that I have found myself coordinating trade shows, a profession that has taken my planner habits up a few notches. With trade shows, my rule is plan early and often.
In many cases, booking a booth space for a trade show is done a year in advance – two years ahead for biennial events – and often exhibitors sign up for next year’s show before the current show has closed. The nature of this business is to plan ahead, which requires staying abreast of contract deadlines and being prepared to commit early. This, in many cases, is the only way to ensure better booth placement. And for an exhibitor, staking your claim on the high-traffic spots can mean a successful return on your trade show investment.
So, it’s no surprise that many of our clients are already knee-deep in 2011 show planning. For instance, the fortunate holders of a priority number for the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) must submit contracts for 2011 space assignment by Aug. 6. Again, I stress, plan early and often.
In addition to planning early and often, here are a few tidbits to live by from independent exhibit-management consultant Candy Adams.
• Start with the strategy, not the tactics. Plan for trade shows strategically rather than tactically – don’t simply go through the motions. Set measurable objectives, qualify attendees, choose the proper products to display and put together a plan for pre-show, at-show and post-show activities.
• Always have a Plan B. Trade shows do not run perfectly – there are too many variables involved. Your only defense is to plan for contingencies.
• Arrive at the show early. Problems arise when trying to do too much in too little time. Arrive during setup to ensure all is going according to plan and to orient yourself.
• Cultivate good relationships. As with any vendor relationship, treat them well and they’ll return the favor. Get to know the people you work with on the show floor.
• Always ask for discounts. Knowing how to get discounts is one of the keys to maximum cost savings.
• Pad your budget. Add 10 percent to your budget for contingencies that often arise.
• Build extra time into your schedule. Pad your schedule and push up your internal deadlines. With the many deadlines you’ll need to juggle, giving yourself a buffer is a very good idea.
With each show attended and every new exhibit developed, a trade show coordinator gains valuable knowledge.
To help you prepare for your next show, Foster Marketing Communications is excited to introduce its latest downloadable guide for the oil and gas industry: Trade Show & Event Marketing: Information to maximize your event potential.
Covering the processes of trade show and events planning for the oil and gas industry as well as other industries, this free guide serves as a roadmap for navigating the process – from conceptualization to post-show follow-up. Anyone who has coordinated a trade show will tell you that identifying every detail in the process is not possible because each trade show often has its own set of rules. With that in mind, this guide is designed to provide a useful overview to assist in formulating a trade show or event game plan.
As always, Foster Marketing can help you navigate these details and craft a comprehensive plan for your company for both domestic and international events. Happy planning!
By Megan Hebert, Trade Show Coordinator for Foster Marketing
At the recent EXHIBITOR Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, it was comforting to find myself amidst a group of professionals who understand why you need a budget for Velcro … and a storage bin for duct tape.
This annual show draws thousands of attendees who want to learn the latest trade show industry trends and collect the neatest new goodies.
When you spend days coordinating trade shows as I do, you learn the value of face-to-face marketing efforts, not just as an occupation, but also as a tried and true marketing method – one that must be kept alive among the rapid increase in email, virtual events and social media.
Some attendees were concerned about their industry, and I realized how blessed we are in the oil and gas industry because our industry understands the value of face-to-face relationship building and what it means to a company’s success.
To gauge trends across industries, EXHIBITOR Magazine recently conducted a survey asking exhibit managers to rate upper management’s support of exhibit- and event-marketing programs. The results were encouraging for those of us in the trade show business.
More than 80 percent of respondents said upper management gives average or strong support to their event programs; and nearly 84 percent indicated similar support for exhibit marketing efforts.
One respondent explained that face-to-face marketing could be growing in importance because of “an increasing desensitization to impersonal marketing methods.”
Another remarked, “As email and online symposia become more and more prevalent, face-to-face marketing will become more valued. One cannot underestimate the power of a personal relationship when it comes to building trust with clients and prospects.”
These two respondents value trade show marketing, but not at the detriment of a total mix of marketing tools to reach customers and get results.
It’s not about choosing one marketing method over the other, it’s about understanding the importance of each and, many times, ensuring they work together. The trade show floor is the optimum platform for combining the incredible technology we have at our fingertips with the opportunity to look someone in the eye and earn his or her trust.
Yes, trade shows are about the ever-important relationship. However, they also are effective for numerous other measurable objectives, all of which can be identified before the show and measured after.
Barry Siskind, president of International Training and Management Co. in Toronto, offers this short list of objectives that can be accomplished at a show in addition to lead-generation efforts.
• Obtain customer feedback. Trade shows provide an easy opportunity to gather information from customers on various topics. Perhaps you’d like to know how customers feel about the sales staff’s customer-service skills, or how they rate your new exhibit design or product demonstration. These questions can be easily answered through in-exhibit surveys, informal polls or in-booth focus groups.
• Gather competitive intelligence. No other venue is as valuable as a trade show for gathering competitive and industry intelligence. Walk the show floor, attend seminars and network with customers to assemble valuable industry data to use to your advantage.
• Introduce employees to the industry. Trade shows serve as a microcosm of an industry, making them a great venue for new employees to get their feet wet and to meet key individuals, build relationships and gain valuable knowledge.
• Meet the press. And meet them face-to-face. That isn’t something that you can do just any old time. Hosting a press event or conducting an interview within your exhibit can give a company an inside track with a trade publication.
• Find partners and form strategic alliances. Explore outside your exhibit space. Especially in the oil and gas industry, some of the best leads can be found from your fellow exhibitors.
• Provide customer service. You can provide great customer service by being prepared to answer customer questions or complaints. This goes a long way in building credibility and customer satisfaction.
• Identify potential employees. We’ve all seen them walking around the exhibit floor … the potential employee. If you have positions that need to filled, take these attendees seriously. One might just make the cut.
Trade shows can be overwhelming – in many ways. By nature, trade show planning and event coordination is a detailed, time-consuming process with countless variables. With years of experience on the trade show floor, countless events under our belt and a list of partners across the globe, Foster Marketing can provide your organization with strategic trade show and event marketing plans based on specific goals and objectives, while saving you valuable time and helping you avoid potential pitfalls.
The oil and gas industry, perhaps more than any other, has been built on relationships. Long before email, virtual events, social media and texting, the industry was fueled by face-to-face familiarity. This trend continues today making relationship building and face-to-face marketing essential.