Can you imagine making a meal without having the end result in mind? It would be a mess of ingredients and not a real meal. More than likely you would still be hungry and maybe a little angry that you don’t have what you wanted. That’s exactly what your next event experience will be if you don’t have a plan for trade show success.
Why are you attending trade shows without a goal in mind?
Without a plan to get you from where your business is today to where you want to be, you will wander from event to event hoping for success. You will be hungry for the next deal and a little angry that you can’t get what you want – a new customer, feedback on a new product, or leads, just like when you cook a meal without the end result in mind.
What’s the recipe for trade show success?
Having your end goal in mind is key to finding trade show success. Begin with the 10-Point Litmus Test by asking:
- Does exhibiting support the larger business goals and objectives of the organization?
- Does exhibiting have the support of senior management, and have they made this known within the organization?
- Is there a defined outcome expected from exhibiting?
- Has the outcome been quantified through metrics?
- Are the metrics approved and supported by all constituents?
- Is the budget sufficient to achieve the desired outcome, or should the metrics be adjusted accordingly?
- Is there sufficient time to plan and execute a successful trade-show project?
- Are the required staff and resources available?
- Is exhibiting the most efficient strategy to achieve the outcome or would other marketing mediums be more effective?
- Are the resources aligned to follow up and report back on the metrics?
Measure success by defining, aligning, and reporting metrics to all levels of the organization will help illustrate the value of participating in trade shows.
How do you measure trade show success?
The term Return on Investment (ROI) is measured differently in organizations. While some may define it as a monetary number, others may consider a Return on Objectives (ROO) or Return on Relationships (ROR). It all depends on how the goals are defined.
The most common goals involve:
- Conveying a brand message
- Building brand awareness
- Enhancing or improving brand perception
- Generating qualified leads
- Building relationships with current customers
- Making sales
Here are ways to measure trade show success:
- Closed business. Events are a good opportunity to meet with many customers and prospects. Consider meeting with current customers to introduce a new product or with prospect customers to present your business. In some industries, sales are closed right from the trade show floor.
- Qualified business leads. Not every lead is a qualified lead. Identify which data you need from prospective customers to categorize them as a qualified lead. A qualified lead is a person or business that meets a criteria indicating they are interested in doing business with you. Depending on the number of qualified leads, you may choose to categorize or rate them in terms of their likelihood to purchase, level of interest, or other criteria.
- Survey visitors. Send surveys before, during, and after a trade show to determine the effectiveness of the event in meeting the needs of the attendees. Make changes to future events as makes sense for your event.
- Conversion rate. Track qualified leads in a database for 4-6 months post-event to determine where they are in the sales pipeline. Be sure to track the event at which they connected with you. We recommend tracking closed business for one year for an ROI summary. In other words, to help determine which events resulted in the most leads converted to customers.
- Media coverage. Track traditional and social media coverage before, during, and after the event to determine which events were most popular among your following and in the news. These are events that help build your brand, making it more recognizable and increasing the likelihood people will convert from leads to customers.
- Recruiting tool. Utilize events to meet potential talent and new hires. This can be especially effective if you’re traveling away from your corporate home. It’s a great opportunity to meet a lot of people in a short timeframe.
- Competitive intelligence. Trade shows offer a unique opportunity to see how the competition markets and sells to their customers. Make note of their booth design – What are they highlighting? Are they introducing a new product? Bringing back an older product? Are they giving something away or providing an opportunity to experience their product? How busy is their booth? You can learn a lot from observing or sending a secret shopper to the competition and even gain an edge in the marketplace. Take what you learn and report back to management.
Trade show success isn’t an exact science but with some planning, you can measure success, make adjustments, and meet goals.
Learn how to make the most of your trade show investment when you register for our free Trade Show Training 4-Part Series ($600 value).