Oilfield support companies provide services to the petroleum exploration and production industry, but do not typically produce petroleum themselves. The oil and gas services industry includes companies that supply everything from mats for oil rigs to tracking software. They service transportation, construction and pipeline needs, and address environmental and safety concerns. In aggregate, the industry generates an estimated $34.9 billion in revenue.
As is typical when it comes to increasing revenue, successful companies employ marketing and sales initiatives to brand and sell their products and services. Undertaking marketing to create greater awareness about the company and its offerings, and engaging sales experts to educate and connect with prospects one-on-one is the usual approach in most industries. But how do the oil and gas services companies get the attention of their target market—the oil and gas producers that drill, extract, refine, deliver and market oil and gas products? Is it mostly based on relationships, or do they recognize the greater potential with well-planned marketing initiatives to generate strong brand recognition?
At the recent Gas & Oil Expo (North America) in Calgary, hundreds of companies set up their booths to demonstrate and promote their offering to the many who perused the show over a 3-day period. This is the perfect promotion locale for sales representatives to collect leads and get to know their competitors. It is the epitome of marketing and sales in one shot simply because it attracts thousands of attendees.
At this show some 30 oil and gas support service company representatives were interviewed to find out what marketing strategies they undertake to promote their products and services. The end result confirms this is an industry that relies on relationships to gain sales. However, in a world that is focused on marketing to build brand recognition, is this industry missing the mark on how to leverage their marketing and sales budget?
Approximately half of the companies surveyed have an actual written marketing plan, although almost all had a dedicated marketing budget.
The importance of having a marketing plan and budget gives the company a roadmap for consistency in branding, promoting and ultimately selling their products and services. Without this approach, companies can spend unnecessary dollars pursuing initiatives that achieve no results.
When asked to describe their brand, very few companies knew what that meant. A brand is the idea or image customers have of the company. It is in the mind of the customer and needs to be built over time with reoccurring visuals and written messaging. One company that clearly understands this concept is Green Seal Certified Safety Courses. As owner Clifford Fix explains it, “you need to have consistent elements across all marketing initiatives.” Their green wave logo is in every marketing and sales piece which has led to customers to instantly recognizing their brand.
Consistency is important, but what about the specific tactics? While almost every company noted personal selling as the most important means of marketing their company, only a handful recognize that marketing incorporates an integrated mix of advertising (in both traditional and social media), public relations, sales promotions and direct marketing, in addition to personal selling, as the ticket to success. It is an integrated approach that builds long term recognition in the mind of the consumer and ultimately builds a favorable perception about a company.
Still, once the plan gets implemented how do you know if it works? When it comes to assessing their ROI (return on investment) for marketing dollars spent, most companies surveyed in the oil and gas services industry do not do this. If anything, they use the measurement of profit at the end of the year to determine whether or not they should invest more money in marketing. Smaller companies seemed to think their marketing ROI is something that is not important enough to devote much time and effort into analyzing. The truth is it might be even more important for them given their smaller marketing budgets.
Many companies use a CRM (customer relationship management) system to track leads and sales. However, the assessment of using marketing initiatives in an effort to create brand presence versus simply documenting sales through a lead generation system can be a more challenging issue. For example, knowing whether social or traditional media is the better bet can be researched beforehand to make a calculated decision, but it is the assessment after implementation that can give a company clear direction on what works and what does not so they can be more strategic about investing their dollars to achieve the profitability they seek.
When asked what keeps them up at night, many felt it was the challenge of having the right marketing to reach their customers. This includes knowing who the market is and how best to reach them. The answer to this is doing the research, developing a strategic marketing plan that provides a clear roadmap to achieve specific goals, and knowing how to measure the results to ensure your marketing investment is working.
Toni Guffei is a writer and analyst with Ratio Marketing Inc. email@example.com