The 2015 Offshore Technology Conference, held in Houston May 4th through 7th, attracted 93,400 attendees. Due to the downturn in crude pricing and its effect on the industry, attendance was down 14,900 attendees from the year prior but still represents the fifth-highest total attendance since OTC began in 1969.
Despite the downturn in the industry, OTC grew in the number of companies participating in the conference, up 114 to 2,682, and in the amount of floor space occupied, up 15,000 square feet to more than 695,000 square feet. The take-away from this is that brand awareness is just as important as ever for customer acquisition.
1) Social Media as a platform to extend the conversation beyond the booth.
Gone are the days of solely relying on attendees to stop by a specific booth number to learn more about a company or its products and services. Most OTC exhibitors are now leveraging social media to make the most of their OTC presence with global audiences in real time. Below is a great example from Cameron on how to engage with attendees in real time on Twitter.
2) Making the products on the show floor more experiential
The biggest attractions at OTC in 2015 were the upscaled equipment required in offshore drilling. These machines tangibly demonstrate the sheer engineering challenges and requirements that many technology providers face bringing their products to market.
3) Visualizing your products and services as part of a broader system or solution
Many of the leading exhibitors at OTC make it a priority to showcase their products and services as part of a larger solutions package that factors into the total lifecycle of their customers business goals. This helps them position their brand as value-added providers and partners versus a commodities vendor.
4) Storytelling to explain what companies do
A common theme in visiting many booths was the use of storytelling or creating a brand narrative to help explain a company’s history (many companies older than 20 years have pretty complex acquisition histories and product architectures) and what it is they actually do out in the field and why they exist. More often than not this took the form of the sales person’s initial pitch or ice-breaker but this narrative also manifested itself in the form of video, animations, touchscreen kiosks and interactive presentations to help quickly convey a compelling story that the viewer can easily understand and remember.
5) Interactive displays are ubiquitous among most exhibitors but sales force training on how to leverage them can be hit or miss.
While touring the booths, large panel interactive touch screens were very common place at all of the major locations, replacing the old mouse-and-keyboard or Flash-based kiosks of the past. In many cases, the sales person or booth employees were not always up to speed on how to navigate their company’s interactive content and during some shifts, the screens were either left on screensaver mode or on a static home screen.
To see more photos from OTC 2015 view the Flickr set here.