Are you ready to make the most of your Offshore Europe stand?

Date Posted:2015-02-19

by Lesley Davidson, Director, LDM Ltd

The doors may not open for another six months, but the countdown to this year's Offshore Europe is well under way for everyone involved in the energy sector.

Or it certainly should be!

If you're among the 850-plus businesses with stand space already booked at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, your marketing focus needs to stay firmly fixed on 8-11 September.

Why? Because there's no point investing in a presence at Europe's biggest and most important oil and gas event if you don't make the most of this unrivalled opportunity to build on existing business relationships and forge new ones.

All too often, though, we see exhibitors simply throw away their investment. Their stands are uninviting, their marketing materials uninspired, their teams unenthusiastic, and there's just nothing there to attract and hold a visitor's attention.

And grabbing attention is the absolute key to success at Offshore Europe: you're just one among 1,500 exhibitors jostling for footfall and you've only a few seconds to make an impact. You will lose out — guaranteed! — unless you can quickly answer your visitors' only question: "What's in it for me?"

So where should you begin? First identify why you're exhibiting and what you want your visitors to do. "Because everyone else is" simply isn't enough — that's what leads to those under-performing stands.

There needs to be a point of focus: a new product or service, maybe a move into a fresh market — something concrete around which you can build a strong and coherent marketing campaign. And you need to be clear about the benefits you're offering your visitors and what it is you want them to do — on your stand, later that day, tomorrow, next week, or next month.

Once you've pinpointed that, putting your strategy in place becomes much easier, and we always recommend you start with a thorough audit of your existing marketing tools.

Does your branding reflect where your business is now and — more important — where you're planning to take it? It's crucial your OE stand looks the part.

What shape is your website in? Is it performing as it should? Will it showcase your OE message to full effect? Do the design and content bring your business to life and invite visitor engagement? And is your site fully responsive so that it looks equally impressive on a smartphone as on a desktop PC?

How about your printed materials, your brochures, leaflets and data sheets? Are they all up to date? How consistent is the overall design and content style? And don't forget your business cards — make sure they're in synch with your other marketing tools.

Next is taking a good, long look at the health of your database. Why? Because you want to communicate with your existing clients and prospects throughout the run-up to OE. And you just can't do this if your database is out of date, incomplete or poorly segmented.

Your next task is to actually create your stand so that it delivers your message with maximum impact and visitors leave primed to take action.

And there's a lot to consider, not least what will be the focal point. If you have a new product, there's your answer. But if it physically doesn’t fit on your stand, how will you showcase it? A custom-made model is one answer, while video and animation are also tried and tested. Whichever route you chose, you need to set the production ball rolling now.

Highlighting a service can be more of a challenge — video is again a versatile choice, but your brief must pivot around your call to action so the content needs to be carefully thought through.

Then there's deciding on the type of stand — bespoke single use or, as many now are, one that's modular and re-useable — along with display accessories like pop-up banners and furniture. And don't forget those freebies: from pens and pen drives to an array of novelties, they all ensure your visitors head off with your branding in their bags!

To maximise the value of your stand, you also need to be confident your clients and prospects know you'll be there. As well as keeping in touch direct via your spring-cleaned database, it's well worth putting in place a PR campaign. Between now and September, send out regular news releases to relevant industry and local media highlighting achievements and milestones, making sure you always refer to your OE stand.

You may also want to entertain your clients during OE, maybe by hosting a party or organising an open day at your facility. Planning and attention to detail are essential here.

Starting to feel a little daunted? We're not surprised! Exhibiting successfully at OE is a major undertaking, but put in place a solid plan now and it really will be easier to pull together the expo threads.

Should you appreciate a helping hand, we're all OE veterans at LDM and we'd be delighted to meet you for a no-obligation exhibition success strategy session.

Why an event is an investment worth making

Date Posted:2014-08-14

Hosting an event is a significant investment for any organisation to make. Whatever the size of your business and scale of your event, you will need to invest both time and money in producing it. The financial investment is likely to be comparative to the scale of your organisation, so a team building event for ten might require the same percentage of profit investment for a small business as a family fun day for 500 would for a multi-national firm. The time involved is also significant, though more difficult to quantify, because every event will have its own lead times and organisations will divide the workload in different ways.

Though such an investment can seem daunting, especially during particularly busy or difficult times, it is one worth making, because an event can deliver huge added value and growth opportunities for your business.

It is a mistake to consider events as separate to your other marketing and PR activities. There is one very important reason for this. You should think of your event as a major exercise in PR. It’s an opportunity for you to consolidate some of your key messages for the year into a neat package and deliver those messages to a core audience. An event, which is disconnected from an organisation’s PR and marketing efforts will appear confused alongside them and won’t generate the response required to achieve added value.

Therefore, the key word in planning your event is ‘Engagement’. Your event must engage the appropriate stakeholders to achieve success and you must consider which of them you’d like to involve. Who do you want to engage in your business? Why do you need their buy in? What sort of event is likely to appeal to that audience? You can only answer these questions by viewing them alongside your other marketing and business activities. It could be that you want to galvanise your staff for busy times ahead and thank them for their hard work or demonstrate a new technology to your existing clients to secure more orders. This is your primary audience. It is crucial that you impress them, as they have a direct impact on the bottom line of your business.

There are also secondary audiences to consider. The press is one such audience and it acts as a conduit between your business and another secondary audience – the industry you operate in. Events provide a myriad of opportunities for press coverage – from fundraising press releases to diary page entries. They offer a crucial departure from the tone of your other PR activities, as they reveal the culture and personality of your business, helping you to stand out from the crowd.

Tackling the Social Media Myth

Date Posted:2014-08-14

Social media is now embedded in marketing and wider business practices. In 2012, The "Social Skinny" published statistics which suggested that 65% of the world’s ‘top companies’ had an active Twitter profile. While it didn’t qualify what was meant by ‘top companies’, the message was clear – in a globalised world, a social media presence is crucial for business.

Fast forward to 2014, and Social Media Today has published statistics which show that Twitter has 15million users in the UK alone. Meanwhile, almost half the UK population has a Facebook account, though teenagers are now selecting other platforms as their social media of choice and Facebook user figures are down 1.5million on last year. LinkedIn’s user figures remain steady, though Social Media Today cites recent research by Econsultancy, which posits that LinkedIn generates 64% of visits to ‘corporate websites’ from all social media. Finally, the publication’s research suggests that Pinterest has experienced the largest growth, in terms of UK user figures, in the past year or so. In early 2012, the site had just 200,000 UK users. By July 2013, it had over 2million.

These figures demonstrate the continued rise of social media and the opportunities it presents to connect directly with stakeholders in the UK and further afield. However, many organisations find it difficult to navigate the different platforms on offer and struggle to put a successful social media strategy in place. This is not helped by the myriad of social media marketing myths that are perpetuated by an ever-growing industry.

Social media needn’t be complicated. Nor should it be seen as a catch-all business development and marketing tool. Rather unfashionably, traditional marketing methods, including face-to-face engagement and hard-copy brochures, are still more likely to win you new business than a judiciously-posted tweet. Of course, if you’re in the Business to Consumer market, you’re more likely to be communicating directly to current and potential clients than a firm which is predominantly Business to Business. For Business to Business organisations, social media should be seen as an extension of your PR strategy. It should serve to demonstrate what your organisation is all about. It’s a great place to draw attention to the media coverage you’ve received, reach prospective employees and promote your CSR activities.

Most importantly, though you’ll receive feedback in the form of Facebook Insights, Twitter Re-tweets and LinkedIn Page Views, you should remember that social media is about awareness. You might not receive lots of feedback for every post, but it doesn’t mean your followers haven’t seen it or absorbed its message.