Learn what it takes to pull off a successful exhibition at an oil and gas conference or show. This is a rare behind the scenes interview, with hard hitting tactics and secrets.
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Mark: Hey, folks. Let’s learn something new about the oil and gas industry.
A four-part series where we went to Longview, Texas and spent some time with Eli Logan and the whole Texas Classic Production gang. No bullshit, they put on one of the best oil and gas trade show series in the world. So, if you have an interest in learning more about oil and gas or if you have a product or service that you’re trying to sell in oil and gas, you need to check this out. We’ll also make sure to throw up some link on each one of these shows is so that you get some special rates when attending. So, enjoy.
We’re still in beautiful Longview, Texas and we’re still at Texas Classic Productions and we got a rare treat for our viewership. We get to actually spend some time talking to Michelle.
Mark: So, Michelle is going to give us a behind the scenes look at what it takes to be a successful exhibitor at a trade show. So, before we get into the whats, let’s talk about the whys. If you’re a company, why would you exhibit a trade show?
Michelle: Exhibiting in a trade show and having that exposure, it puts you where the decision makers are especially if it’s like ours, a private industry exclusive event where only people in the oil and gas industry are allowed. It puts you behind the scenes with people who actually have buying power.
And if you think about it, if you’re a salesperson, how many phone calls, how many e-mails that are probably ignored or deleted, how many touches does it take to actually get on the phone with the decision maker? But at a trade show, you’re actually there face to face with them. You can showcase new products, goods, and services. You can do product demonstrations, you couldn’t do on a sales call. You know if you’re promoting heavy equipment or selling heavy equipment. It’s not like if you have a one on one meeting with somebody that you can be like, “Hey, wheel in the crane,” you know, but you have that a trade shows so they can have that hands on experience with you.
You have the marketing efforts of all the other exhibiting companies. You have the marketing efforts of the trade show management company. I mean you’ve got so much working for you to have trade show exposure.
Mark: Yeah. And I agree 100%. When you do this right, it pays off big time.
So, speaking of doing it right, let’s talk about the hows. So, if you’re company and you’re thinking about doing a trade show exhibit, what should be going through your head?
Michelle: The first thing you need to ask yourself is why. Why are we choosing to exhibit? You know there’s usually four main reasons; someone wants to either protect their market share, they want to enter into a new market for the first time, maybe they want to protect their current market share, or they want to introduce a new product, good, or service.
And so, you’ve got to know why are we doing this trade show and then you’ve got to know and ask yourself what do we want to accomplish in that market that the trade show is going to be in. And at that point, then you can start setting some goals.
Mark: Yeah. That’s awesome. And, you know, we’ve talked about this all the time that if you don’t have a strategy, you’re just wasting time and money.
So, you understand – your company decides what they want to accomplish and they’re able to actually turn that into goals. Once they have their goals set, I happen to know that you and your team work hand in hand with these guys to make sure that they have successful event.
Let’s talk about that. What are some of the things that you offer to the exhibitors to make sure they’re successful?
Michelle: Well, we offer around the clock marketing efforts on our part. You know we’re constantly trying to increase our trade associations and partnerships in marketing and advertising, but we like to put marketing opportunities in the hands of our exhibitors so they personally can reach out to their target audience and do some of the marketing themselves because, you know, if it only comes from us they’re missing the opportunity to have that personal touch and to have that personal, you know, three, four, five touches up until the trade show when they actually get that face time.
So, we offer things like digital tickets. You know they’re tickets that they can e-mail out to anybody that they will want to actually come and walk across their booth, you know, at the trade show.
We offer hardcopy tickets, which those are my personal favorite because it allows you an opportunity to go get face time with a potential customer, hand them something, have a handshake, get that face time and leave them with something of value asking nothing in return, but to maybe see their face at the trade show.
We offer a banner that people can download and put it on their website. The best part about that banner is it promotes the show, it promotes what booth they’re going to be at, but if somebody clicks on it, it captures that lead information for them, so that’s also a value.
And, there’s just a lot that we do. You know if someone had a new creative idea, an exhibitor had an idea and ask for our help, guaranteed we will be working into making it happen.
Mark: Yeah. I agree 100%. Now, I happen to know something that you’re getting to release pretty soon which I think is awesome.
So, let’s talk a little bit about your – actually, you tell me what you’re getting ready to release.
Michelle: All right. We put together an exhibitor education program and I don’t like calling it exhibitor education because I think our exhibiting companies are educated, they know what they’re doing. Obviously that’s why they’re choosing to do a trade show, they understand, they know how to market themselves.
But, you know we’ve had some companies before who have never done trade shows before and some of them are a little bit hesitant to spend their marketing dollars doing something that they’ve never tried before. So, we offer it’s – we’ve got thirty six videos coming up that we’re going to be releasing. They’re all two to three minutes long, basically teaching you step by step. What type of trade shows shall we do? How do we set a goal?
Once we set a goal, how do we set a quantifiable goal? How do we make a trade show budget? Based off of what we want to accomplish where should we spend our marketing dollars? How do we train our staff? You know what are some best practices? What do we do need at the show? What should we do after the show?
And so, it’s a comprehensive step by step training program that will not only give people who have never exhibited before tips that they need to have complete confidence to get the return on their investment from doing a trade show. But even companies who have exhibited for years guaranteed it will give them a competitive edge they’ve never had.
Mark: Yeah. That’s awesome. It’s awesome for couple of reasons. Number one, you’ll bug the living [bageedies] out of me asking me these types of questions. And the great people that Texas Classic Productions has basically given you a roadmap, right? A step by step how to do it right based on their experience.
And the other thing is, you know, what the price for this is going to be folks? You want to tell them what the price could be?
Michelle: A big old goose egg.
Mark: Zero dollars, right? You can afford zero dollars.
All right. So, you hit on some really good stuff out there. There’s a couple of things I want to talk about that you touched on, but you and I both know that if you want to be successful in doing this, one of the most important things is pre-event marketing. Let’s talk about that for a bit.
Michelle: Okay. Success is where opportunity and preparedness meet. And people failed to prepare that’s why they fail to succeed. So, going into a show, once somebody knows exactly what they want to accomplish, you’ve got to target your audience that’s going to be within a certain radius who’s going to be willing to actually come to visit you at the show.
You know the center for – rephrase that.
The center for exhibition industry and research says that attendees will come 400 miles to attend a trade show. So, once you know what you want to accomplish, you’ve got your radius of who you want to start marketing to to invite to come out to the show.
And, you know, making an announcement about a show coming up six months out, five months out, four months out, three months out is great, but about one month out, you really want to start making those personal phone calls to people who are within your target audience within that radius to give them a personal invitation from you, not the trade show management company, but from you saying, hey, you know, we’ve got a show, we’re going to be in town doing launching some new products or showcasing this or that that may save you some time and money on what you’re currently doing. If I could get you a free ticket, would you be interested in stopping by, you know, and make that personal connection with them.
And then, followed with e-mail, connect with them on social media, start marketing yourself, maybe send them some direct mail about the show. You know closer to the show, give them a phone call say, you know, I got you a ticket, I know I e-mailed it over to you, where you planning on making it out, you know, if you were I’d love to block off five to ten minutes where, you know, you and I can just chat and I can answer some questions for you.
And then, that’s when I’d like to do the give them two options, would 10:00 AM or 2:00 PM work better for you. And then hold them accountable to something because then people are more likely to do something if they’re being held accountable for it.
Mark: Yeah. So, I’m going to put myself on the spot and if she answers the wrong way I’m going to edit it out, so it doesn’t appear like I’m wrong.
So, let’s take two imaginary companies and they’re competitors and they’re exactly the same size and they’re both going to come exhibit at your trade show. The first one picks prime spot and has the biggest booth. The second one has a spot in the back and a smaller booth, but spends more time doing pre-marketing, pre-show marketing.
Which one do you think is going to be most successful?
Michelle: That’s going to be the person on the back. Whoever does – I say whoever does the most pre-show marketing wins. It doesn’t matter what trade show, it doesn’t matter what location, it doesn’t matter what advertising, you do, choose to do, not do. It doesn’t matter if you staff your booth giving away the best prizes. Whoever does the most pre-show marketing to their target audience wins.
Mark: Yeah. So, I don’t have to edit it out because that’s exactly what we preach.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about your actual booth staff. So, when you think about booth staff when you think about exhibiting, what’s probably the number one thing that the booth staff need to show in order to help make the events successful to the exhibiting company?
Michelle: They need to show that they’re interested in offering a solution to a company that has problems. I say there’s two main things that separate people who are successful and not successful at trade shows and it’s being available and it’s being approachable.
And it’s not only being those two things, but it’s appearing those two things. You’ve got to appear that you’re available and you’ve to have the appearance that you’re approachable because I may be a company that has the biggest problem in the world and I am there with one objective and that objective is today, I’m going to have my problem solved by one of these exhibitors.
And if your – if you’re that company that I know is going to offer the solution to my problems, but you’re sitting there playing on your phone or acting uninterested, I’m going to take my business elsewhere. So, you’ve got to have the appearance that you’re there to solve people’s problems.
Mark: Yeah, absolutely and we see that all the time. You train your booth staff, you appear approachable, you engage and you get so much more better turnout and so much better success.
So, let’s talk about one more thing and one of my favorite subjects. Let’s talk about what you should not do with your booth and your booth staff.
Michelle: I could list probably about thirty different things. You should not sit there and not act engage. You should not stand there with your arms crossed looking like you’re miserable. You should not have the look on your face that says, what the heck am I doing here? You should not be chewing gum. I think sometimes it’s just not professional.
Cellphones, laptops, books, Kindle, iPads, anything that’s going to distract you from engaging with a potential multi-million dollar deal, you should leave in your hotel room.
Dress business professional. You always want to dress one step above the attendees that are going to be attending the show. When people come up to you with their looking friend industry expert, someone who’s interested in what you have to offer, so you’ve got to appear interested.
And food looks disgusting. Having a cluttered unorganized booth gives you the appearance that the products, goods, and services that you’re offering are probably going to be unorganized and cluttered.
Mark: So, here’s my pet peeve, booth girls.
Michelle: 100% agree. If you have to have – if you have to draw attention to someone or something outside of the product, good, or service that you’re offering, it’s says that you’re trying to appear better than what your product, good, or service is. What do you have to hide? Your product should speak for themselves.
Mark: Yeah, absolutely. So, folks please stop the whole booth girl thing.
Michelle, this is like just fantastic information. If people want to learn more about Texas Classic Productions, where should they go?
Michelle: I would send them to www.oilfield-expo.com because that’s going to take them directly to a listing of all of our shows and whether they want to attend or exhibit which are the two main options that we provide.
Mark: Yeah. So, that’s great, we’ll put that in the show notes so you don’t have to be writing anything down. And, folks I just want to let you know they didn’t pay me to do this, right? This is a totally unbiased interview. I love Texas Classic Productions, I think they put the highest value shows on because it’s strictly focused in oil and gas.
And, Michelle, I just want to thank you. Thank you for giving us a behind the scenes look at what it takes and thanks for offering the free education materials on your website. We’ll put those links on the show notes as well. So, I really appreciate you joining us here.
Michelle: You’re welcome.
Mark: All right. Folks, I hope this helped. We will see you next time.