OTC 2018: Kay Marshall provides insight into the energy behind tradeshows

27th April 2018

With the 50th Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) Houston fast approaching, I was looking back to the changes we’ve made to our booth in recent years.

Long gone are the days when you simply plonked down some branding, equipment and brochures – and expected everyone to flock to them with great excitement.  Perhaps I’ve simplified that (or not in some cases!) but what I’m trying to say is….organising a trade show presence requires substantial thought, planning and execution.  And a darn good team behind you.

So where do we start?

The thought process begins around six months before large shows, even longer if we’re submitting SPE papers.  We consider what the conference is showcasing, what the market and our clients are looking for, and how we can profile our company’s expertise in these areas.  Other considerations include any new product developments, joint venture or supplier partnerships, significant operational achievements or contract awards.

Our planning starts shortly afterwards, pulling together a brief and tender to secure a stand contractor.  This is often tied in to multiple shows, so we’re considering those at the same time.  We provide a brief based on our design and content for the booth – as both need to work seamlessly.  We then move on to consider our overarching campaign, the technology we need to showcase and the range of marketing materials we need in place – anything from models, animations, graphics and advertising, through to print-based collateral.  Our communications support this material, including web, social media, press releases and blogs, working closely with our supporting PR agency to ensure we prepare and generate activity around this in advance.  It still surprises me that people think we fax (remember them?) a press release and all of our activity generates itself – even digital!  No different to our colleagues in Business Development, it’s all about maintaining long-term relationships and delivering on your promises.

As for execution, well this blog isn’t long enough to detail what we do.  From our designers carefully crafting the graphics that transform our stand, through to the vast array of supporting component elements that are used for flyers, invites, signature strips, etc.  The marketing collateral is either updated or created from scratch and needs to work carefully with our communications.  We will have planned technical articles in special conference magazine editions, prepared our press release early for the show daily publication, launched a dedicated web page, written blogs and created a supporting social media campaign.  Briefings will have been issued, training held and CRM systems up and running. Did someone mention an on-booth reception?  Yes we deliver those too!

So when it comes to a trade show, there’s a lot more than meets the eye.  As I type, our team is setting up the booth, t-shirts and joggers on, sweating buckets as they create a ‘mini Expro’ for the week ahead.  Forget the misconception that organising these events is glamorous because there’s a lot of hard work and you only see the good part – the end result!

While I’ve not touched on the value the technical conference has, I hope I’ve provided an insight in to the trade show element – particularly how hard our teams work.  This blog is dedicated to them and the amazing energy they bring.

Footnote: if you liked this blog but would like something from an attendee’s perspective, you can read our blog from last year: six staples to a successful trade show.  Remember, it’s all about the shoes!

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