What I Learned
Where is the prospectus? How do I get started? What will I need? All of these are the first questions I asked myself as I commenced upon preparing for our presence at the largest trade show in the Oil & Gas industry, the Offshore Technology Conference. Preparation began in November 2014 for this exhibit in May 2015. I had plenty of time…I thought.
What I found, as I work for a manufacturer’s representative with thirteen principals, is that it is not as cut and dried as it may appear. People, places, services, advertising and products were all major factors.
Let’s start with people. A slew of communication is required. Will you be participating? Will you be staying at the hotel at which I have scheduled a block of rooms? Would you like me to schedule your travel and do you need a car? Will you be sending products or literature for us to use? Do you have any special needs? One must think of every single contingency from preferences to special needs and ask the questions because if the questions aren’t asked, the information is generally not provided until the last minute. Additionally, contacts! Who is the best contact for the trade show? Who do I contact regarding parking, special needs, carpet, electricity, etc. and how do I make a strong impression on them so they remember me positively when I need them? Another item I discovered is “first come, first serve” is the rule for all services. Don’t wait and hang on to money you are going to spend anyway. Get the order in as soon as possible to prevent delays!
Places, oh places. What is the best placement for our booth? Where is the foot traffic going to be most heavy? What parking lot is best for the location of our booth and does it have handicapped spots? What hotel will be the best location and price? Are we taking anyone out to dinner? What are the best restaurants in the area and do they take reservations? All of these questions demand attention at the beginning of planning for a smooth experience.
A common misconception may be that ordering services is the easiest task. At this point, looking backward, I laugh at myself. All services are not provided by one company. There are discount deadlines that surely should be met. Most contacts are friendly and personable, but some may not have the information requested. Find that right person and cultivate a congenial relationship! Sometimes there are hidden forms behind the forms. Example: If using an outside contractor, a Work Authorization Request form must be completed and submitted. Be patient, diligent, and communicative and keep an organized binder. Save all e-mails and confirm everything!
How do I advertise on a budget to best make our presence known? Many exhibit websites offer some form of advertising, whether it be an event guest pass, booth layout or an online presence in which the company name, profile and product information are showcased. Social Media!! LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook were all mediums I used; multiple personal and professional posts over time. It’s free and reaches your targeted audience if directed correctly.
What products and literature would be best for the exhibition and what else will I need? In this area speaking with the Principles, Sales Manager and President was very beneficial for me. I now adore the phrase “No question is a stupid question”. We sat down together and discussed several aspects of the show, but this was the area in which I needed most help and their knowledge was invaluable.
We have now received the products and literature. Everything has shipped and I await in anticipation to see the fruition of my efforts.
TALON Technical Sales will be in booth 5179 at the Offshore Technology Conference. Stop by if you like or look for my follow up after the show. I’m quite certain there will be something to laugh about.