I wrote last month about the importance of a trade show strategy, as demonstrated by the first few weeks of exhibition season. It’s a time of year that ages the unprepared beyond recognition and chews up the unworthy like an exhibition hall canteen sandwich. If approached with a battle plan, however, trade events are a feast of plenty.
We had a very different presence at each of the Crane Industry Council of Australia’s (CICA) conference in Perth, Australia; Offshore Europe, in Aberdeen, Scotland; and the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA) Crane & Rigging Workshop, in Denver, USA, all of which took place in September.
Getting the most from these events could only be achieved once we’d considered the organisers, the audiences they attract, the markets they represent and the format they follow. They are key considerations regardless of the industry in which you work and the market you’re hoping to penetrate through a trade show or conference.
Here’s how we looked at the demographics of the three events above and set a mission for each.
Event: Crane Industry Council of Australia (CICA) conference
Audience: Crane owners/hirers; national marketers; manufacturers and suppliers of mobile cranes, tower cranes and vehicle loading cranes
Mission: Deliver an educational presentation and raise profile as knowledgeable thought leader
At the CICA conference, Anthony Culshaw, our senior design engineer and technical committee member at LEEA, delivered a presentation titled “Lifting and Spreader Beam Design and Use”. Talking at events is a great way to present a company or individual as a thought leader or respected authority in an industry. As I’ve said before, however, it’s important not to make a sales pitch, which will be poorly received and will have a detrimental impact on the brand or person.
Anthony educated and informed the audience, focussing on issues relevant to them. He presented himself as a trusted authority and delegates approached him afterwards with questions and comments. Anthony gathered several leads and we have even converted a sale as a result of his involvement. It was a rewarding trip despite the downturn being experienced in many Australian industry sectors, most notably mining.
Remember, Anthony will deliver another presentation to the LEEA Lifting & Rigging Conference Middle East in Dubai on 14-15 December, where the audience will be different and the content tailored once again to educate, not sell.
Event: SPE Offshore Europe
Audience: Oil and gas; production and operations; drilling; facilities and construction; reservoir dynamics; health and safety professionals working in offshore and marine environments
Mission: Walk the aisles and conduct as many productive meetings as possible in three-day visit
Our approach for SPE Offshore Europe, which took place at the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre, was entirely different. We didn’t exhibit or make a presentation, but I joined Liam Botting, new business development manager, and Jemma Hayward to walk the aisles and visit existing and prospective clients on the show floor and elsewhere in Aberdeen. It was a sprawling show and isolating ourselves on a stand would have been restrictive.
I think it was Benjamin Franklin who first said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” and this is certainly true of trade shows. Fortunately, we had scheduled most of our meetings in advance and had some very productive conversations, frequently splitting up to cover as much ground as possible. Liam felt at home having spent the four years before he joined us at a maritime security company and no doubt noted many familiar faces.
Credit where it’s due, the offshore industry like many lifting equipment sectors is very open and frank about discussing the state of the market, which is very important when trying to track a curve or plan for the future. I have heard of industries where representatives of various points of a supply chain falsify information to mislead or play situations up or down. I’ve never understood it. In the spirit of abundance and camaraderie we’re all in this together.
We appreciated the enthusiasm with which the industry greeted our new DNV GL Type Certificate for spreader beams up to 1,000t. With 63,000 professionals from over 100 countries in attendance it was an opportunity we couldn’t miss.
Event: Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA) Crane & Rigging Workshop
Audience: Transportation; machinery moving and erecting; industrial maintenance; millwright; crane and rigging operations; manufacturing and rental professionals
Mission: Promote company as premium supplier of spreader beams, lifting beams and other below-the-hook lifting equipment from exhibition stand
The final trade show of the month was the SC&RA Crane & Rigging Workshop, which took place only last week at the time of writing. Sophie Briggs, marketing executive and Tim Spivey represented us in Denver where, this time, we had an exhibition stand. Again, Sophie and Tim reported back positively and, apart from oil and gas, it’s encouraging to hear how optimistic our American customers and partners continue to be about the state of the market.
As I’ve said before, we remove the chairs from our exhibition stands so staff are upstanding and at eye-level with visitors. It’s remarkable how many fellow manufacturers and competitors appear disconnected or disinterested by sitting at the back of stands tapping away on phones and laptops. Imagine how that looks to passing visitors.
That’s just three different ways to tackle a trade event and we’ll tailor our approach again for next week’s Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats Middle East show in Abu Dhabi, where Liam will join Malcolm Peacock, and the World Crane and Transport Summit in Amsterdam a month later.
Trade show strategy often revolves around the launch of new products and services. As we put two new below-the-hook products to market in October and November, we’ve identified key events where audiences will be receptive to these innovations. One will revolutionise the rigging industry by offering heavy lifting professionals an efficient, lightweight and economic below-the-hook solution, but I can’t say more about it yet!
Ci-dessous le crochet
We received a request earlier this month from Solutions Manutention (or Handling Solutions, in English) magazine to send them a press release about our new nautical series of spreader beams for subsea environments in French. We happily obliged and are increasingly addressing audiences in their local language.
It would be a mistake to assume English is always the language of business. New micro sites in multiple languages demonstrate our commitment to our global network of partners and customers. We have launched web content in French, Spanish and Dutch, while German and Portuguese partners will soon be able to absorb information in their own languages.
French and Spanish are the first languages of many regions around the world, notably in Africa and the Americas. We’re committed to giving our global partners and distributors every tool they need to be successful; translated material is just one component of that ongoing initiative.
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