Friday, May 06, 2011

R&B@OTC: Along with 78,000 Other People, We Came to See and Be Seen.

We forget. We all forget – and fast, too. When I wrote here about the 2008 Offshore Technology Conference, oil was $128/barrel. Today, after the close of this year’s OTC, the price is $97.30 – down from a high of $113 a month ago. In the middle, there have been ups and downs, spills and chills and drilling moratoria. Plus constant predictions of “the end of civilization as we know it” in terms of a bleaker, far more expensive energy future.

So why, in the face of so much negativism and angst, did more than 78,000 of us go to OTC 2011, generating another record-busting year? One reason is our recognition (at least as far as I can tell) that oil and gas aren’t the end of us; but rather, they’re Western civilization’s guarantor.

That’s a big word but no less true. Hydrocarbons not only fuel our present lives, they assure the quality and durability of what we have achieved financially and culturally.

This is not to say our industry doesn’t have its tin ears and big mouths. Transocean’s boneheaded safety bonus announcements a month ago are just one example of how to make an entire business segment look real bad.

OTC is energy – the thrilling buzz of making things happen, of participating. It only took me and Brian Bearden sitting together in the PSR Group booth for five minutes, getting this caricature drawn, to also draw a cheerful crowd of lookers…and sitting ducks for the PSR people working the booth. (Thanks and you’re welcome to the PSR gang!)

George Foster of Foster Marketing answered me this: “What’s the marketing value of exhibiting at the Offshore Technology Conference?”

Trade shows are the last bastion of building personal relationships in this digital age. The opportunity to reacquaint with clients and prospects from all over the world at OTC is  phenomenal. Not only the relationship-building, but to know that making one sale pays for the show makes OTC well worth the expense.

I have pushed the same query to other colleagues, veterans of working in or visiting clients at this year’s OTC. When I get more answers, I’ll post them and let you know. Meanwhile, newly headlined Barrett-Wehlmann-Proctor principal Jim Proctor splits being seen five ways:

From the optimist’s perspective, it’s keeping your brand relevant in the context of the global industry’s biggest event of the year.

From the pessimist’s point of view, it’s not being conspicuous by your absence.

For the salesperson: “I can see 40 customers in a day, not get on a plane and it only costs $1.7 million.”

For the marketer, it’s accumulating those pesky exhibitor points and improving location – year after year.

And from the CFO’s perspective: “What else are we going to do with all these profits?”

Thank you to Tuesday’s wingman Bearden, principal of web design consultancy Upstream Marketing. Thanks to Signalwrite clients here and abroad, and to everyone who made a great OTC 2011 possible…nothing cartoonish about any of ‘em but great colleagues all.


Becci Himes said...

A quote from Scott Ginsberg today "Face to face is making a comeback. Create an act of humanity in a moment of technology." I think that's what we saw at OTC this week.

Donna Collum said...

No kidding, Richard--that was the day I showed up also. It was packed!!

Bob Lytle said...

Because everything is so electronic, this is the year’s best opportunity to connect personally with your client, to polish an existing relationship or start something new.