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Not everything happens “at” OTC 2017. Clients tell us some of the best (and most meaningful) customer interactions happen offsite of the Offshore Technology Conference. As an added benefit, it’s also a cost-effective option in these tight times.

Last year, a client’s trade show marketing budget got sliced – we mean DEEP. They couldn’t afford to exhibit, yet they couldn’t afford to sit out completely. What to do?

They took a step back and got serious: they accessed where the company saw the greatest sales return over the years. Surprise, surprise – it wasn’t trade shows. Sales ROI per capital pointed to customer wine tastings. A non-threatening, social environment where everyone from the C-Suite on down mix and mingle chatting about anything under the sun from their kid’s schooling to the next big thing in oil and gas.

If you’re considering an offsite event, either by itself or in addition to a booth, there’s a few easy things we’ve learned that can help you host an epic offsite event at OTC 2017:

  • LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: In American’s fourth largest city, be conscious of distance and traffic as well as parking. Select an easy-to-find place. Don’t forget about the challenges at NRG Stadium… attendees must zig zag all over the place by shuttles and walk great distances. They’re pretty wiped out after a day on the floor. So if your company has a lot of out-of-town customers, a truly Houston, Texas experience could motivate folks to make the journey. The more memorable, the better…
  • COLLECT BIDS EARLY: Set parameters for what you want customers to experience: full meal or snacks, cocktails or wine/ beer, standing high-tops or soft seating, entertainment or background music, fancy or simple, quiet or loud? Call on all those locations where you’ve hosted past events and see what deals they can cut for you. Never be afraid to push for lower prices to stretch your budget. Some sites without food service do not charge event fees and simply put the food service on your shoulders.

HOUSTON’S TOP-RATED BBQ: Killen’s Texas Barbeque

  • PROMOTE FOR EFFECT: It’s so tempting to write and design an invite for every single sales lead on your marketing list. But that will not help fill a room with decision makers. Look at all your segmented marketing lists and grab those decision makers with high-open rates who will likely be at OTC 2017 (check the Exhibitor List). Work with your top brass on crafting a separate VIP invite directly from the CEO. Ideally, you want to start inviting folks no later than six weeks out. Do not rely on emails. Call people to confirm them, especially those hand-picked by executives. Use Eventbrite. It will automatically remind attendees about the event and make managing the door easier for you. A list can easily convert into name tags, if you wish.

HOUSTON’S TOP RATED WHITE LINEN RESTAURANT: Steak 48

  • MARKETING WITH PURPOSE: Save your marketing for your selected audience and only that audience. Unlike a booth visit invite, you have to pay for these folks’ time – so resist the urge to post on social media. Set your head count and aim for it. Keep your focus on your targets and make them feel truly special for being invited. If this becomes an annual event, being invited can become something attendees look forward to as a place to unwind and socialize. While OTC allows for booths to host end-of-day show floor mixers, it’s not the same as getting away from the “office” and being able to relax. Providing that opportunity will be valuable to weary travelers.
  • DON’T FORGET THE BUSINESS: Sharing a few stories over a chard and cocktail shrimp is fun. Keep it fun and casual. Just don’t forget, it’s still business. Make sure you and your sales folks have some goals in mind (contacts to meet, topics to broach, cards to exchange) and you agree to a plan of attack in your follow ups by email or better yet, by phone or in person. Drop your Eventbrite RSVPs into your email marketing lists and get your sales folks to categorize their interest (cold, luke warm, HOT). You need to prove value, after all, and no sale funnel tracking means you simply hosted a party.

That’s it! You’re all set to host the hottest OTC 2017 event of the season.

Galvanized Strategies is a Houston-based PR and marketing firm that works with oil and gas clients of all sizes. Want to learn more? Let’s chat!

 

Photo credit: matstornberg via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

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