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Cortland Blog

Getting the most ROI from a trade show

An empty trade show can be as disappointing as an empty football stadium, but a packed one can have the buzz of a cup final day, with atmosphere, likeminded people and plenty of action all in one place.

Oceanology International at London’s ExCeL last month was thankfully the latter, attracting 200 international exhibitors and delegates exceeding 8,000. The show is a key sharing platform and a place to network with the world’s premier marine science and ocean technology communities.

Cortland was interested in speaking with vessel and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operators, defence industry representatives and oil and gas firms while at the major exhibition. New business leads are now being followed up on from these industries in the UK, Europe, North America and China.

Five key lessons that can be taken from a trade show like Oceanology International are:

1. You’ve signed up, so commit

Like booking tickets for a sporting event, remember you’ve taken the time to research, book and attend the event so commit people and resources to it.

We displayed our well-known products on the stand and had representatives from cables and umbilicals and ropes and assemblies speaking with visitors.

Some delegates were aware of our products and others were actively using them. We discussed recent custom-product deliveries and received feedback on how they had performed in the field.

2. See what else is on offer

Pre-plan stands to visit or set-up preferred customer meetings.

We made time to meet our existing supply chain contacts as well as potential sub-contractors and vendors. We also met others from the past during the week, people we had not worked with for more than 10 years in some cases.

We had a chance to see the latest in acoustics, oceanography, geophysics, data acquisition, survey equipment, sonar and systems, echo sounders, marine engineering, ROV/AUV, sensors, cables and cable systems, marine equipment and robotics. This has generated ideas and potential for new project creation.

3. Let others know you are there

Life and business tends to be played out in the public eye these days. Join in with social media discussion on topics around the show you’re attending, and with posts, while also make the important connections on the ground.

We had hundreds of conversations and meetings over the three days, while our marketing team supported us with posts, highlighting where we were and creating wider interest.

There was greater awareness and valuable first-time face to face meetings with existing customers, one who for years had simply known one of our managers as “the rope guy”.

4. Check out the competition

At a large show, you’ll likely encounter companies offering similar products to your own. Take some time to scout out people and products you’re up against.

We were amongst some of the world’s top manufacturers, service providers and contractors, all at the show for business leads and creation.

Firm interest in our products was encouraging, particularly in our ROV cables and tethers; and diving umbilicals. We’ll also be in touch with delegates about cable grips, oceanographic mooring ropes, and heavy lift slings.

5. Enjoy the show

At trade events, it’s important to take a step back, enjoy the buzz; with hard work in a relaxed environment the results will happen.

Overall, Oceanology was a chance to do just this. We made the key contacts mentioned, introducing ourselves to influential people we were aware of and sparking interest from others we hadn’t thought of before.

Our teams were in it together, supporting one another. We’re looking forward to capitalizing on the many opportunities that we discovered at Oi2018, one at a time.

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