As the trade show winds down and your staff hustles to score any last minute leads, you reflect on your show experience. Was there a return on your investment? Did you meet your show objectives? What did you discover that will improve your next event?
Any post-show assessment begins by reviewing your pre-show goals. Although trade shows may appear to be the same as those ten years ago, they are anything but. Today's trade show attendees no longer wander the show floor. They search, and that search begins with research before the show.
So how do successful trade show exhibitors attract them to their booth? They are relentless in their pre-show marketing. They know that attracting and scheduling attendees to their space is the key to a positive trade show investment. And while there are still potential clients who just happen to discover you at the industry trade show, they are becoming the exception rather than the rule.
So... you done everything right. How do you assess your post-show results?
There are some basic methods you can use to assess your return on investment. Add up all the leads you’ve acquired during the show and compare them with your projected estimates. If there were any in-booth surveys conducted, you can total those as well. Such surveys are a great way of getting visitor feedback and will give you some idea of attendance and level of interest. Hire a clipping service to keep track of any news coverage your company may have received in connection with the show. You can look at how many promotional items were distributed, and how much literature people grabbed, but these are a crude measurements of success at best.
Much later, you will track your sales from the show and factor these into your ROI analysis. ROI tracking should no longer be guesswork for any company. Professional companies rely on CRM which should identify who you contacted before the show, who visited your booth and what was discussed, how they were contacted post-show, and any subsequent sales. It takes discipline to capture this information, but not capturing it means you have no way attributing sales to the trade show. Without this knowledge, your trade show expense can not be analyzed. Given the increase pressure on sales and marketing to demonstrate quantitiative results tied to specific actions there's little reason not to track all data associated with a specific trade show.
Have all your show objectives been met? Did you gather the number of leads that you anticipated? Did you meet your sales quota, if you had one? How did your booth staff function under pressure?
It is a good idea to do a post show review with all staffers regardless of whether they are temporary help or your employees. Ask them if they have any feedback on how they felt the show went. Ask your staff about what worked and what did not. Which versions of the pitch worked best and which fell flat? Were there a sufficient number of promo items and brochures? How many people watched your product demos or videos? Were there other exhibitors who had crowds in their booth? Why? By asking these questions, you will discover decisions that worked and those that didn’t. By conducting a thorough post-show analysis, you can improve your performance at next year’s show.
Participating in a trade show should neither a punishment nor a vacation for your staff. When they understand the show goals and are given the tools to be successful, they will be a company's best asset at a trade show. Their success can be in the booth, the conference sessions, or during the show's social functions. All are meaningful and potential sources of new customers, suppliers, or partners.
When the show is over, be sure to reward your hard-working staff for their efforts. You can take the team out for lunch, hold an office party, or simply given them an unexpected long weekend. Be sure to make everyone feel appreciated and that they have a role in sharing what happened at the show. Consider setting up incentives ahead of time and giving away prizes to those who generate the most qualified leads or achieve some other objective. Remember, your staff members are the key to your success at a show, so let them know they are valued.
For more information about trade show or event marketing, give us a call or Contact Us. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your next show.