Unpacking Shows and Events
Updated: Jan 20
Published on September 1, 2021
With the pandemic still wreaking havoc on live events, conferences and shows, how do you know if your decision to exhibit hit the mark? While lag measures live in the afterlife of any event, here's a shortlist to evaluate what you accomplished and where to focus strategies in the future to ensure higher ROI.
Before assessing results, a primary consideration is the performance of the event itself. There's no question that the global scale of travel restrictions has significantly impacted attendance and exhibitor participation, especially for those events with international reach. The question becomes, "Does a smaller show automatically mean a lower ROI?" The answer is no. From recent discussions with exhibitors of several prominent trade shows, the majority reported a higher number of leads and engagements than secured at historically larger events. How could that be? One explanation is that those attending, like those exhibiting, really had a purpose for being there. The suggestion is safety measures like masks and social distancing acted as a pseudo-filter reducing the numbers of those who would have attended without clear purpose or for more social reasons. Connections started with greater intention, right out of the box. Beyond host performance, there is even a closer correlation between success and a well-executed event strategy and hard actions behind it. Here are three questions that can help to assess the results of your investment:
How did your plan work? An event host will issue an ERG (Exhibitor Resource Guide) where everything needed to logistically manage the details of your booth set up lives. Ask any show floor manager about the questions they get on set up day and they'll tell you 95% of the answers are in the event ERG. It's not uncommon to see exhibitors who didn't think to order electric or didn't label a shipment correctly. Some oversights can be complicated and costly to resolve onsite. Also around planning, did you tap into the opportunities to participate in sponsorships and event marketing? This can include banners, signs, directories, lanyards, digital assets, ad placement, etc. Being diligent about reading and responding to communications from the event host keeps you in the loop, can reduce expense and maximizes your investment. How did you look? This can be subjective yet quantifiable. First, how did the location of the booth perform against your expectations? There's a trend away from competitors being positioned great distances apart on the show floor to being together in like-business zones. Another very important assessment is the visual quality of your booth. Was the design effective and did it reflect the esthetic quality of your business? Did your messaging translate and while it might go without saying, was the booth clean and uncluttered? The perception "a messy booth is a messy company", can be real. An inviting, concise and interest-provoking appearance performs best. What are the numbers? Along with a well-formed strategy goes measurable objectives and metrics. Assessment of the budget, dollars sold, deals closed, leads secured, booth visits or even digital goals like page visits, text responses, emails, downloads, etc can point to a successful outcome. Spending some time in advance to plan on-site data collection can serve to not only know the level of engagements, it can also shed light on who those connections were with. That can answer the bottom-line question, "Did we see who we wanted to see?" Conversely, without a well-built scorecard, arriving at a factual ROI becomes extremely complicated. For most organizations there's an exciting and sometimes stressful build up to a major event. Many times there's a sense of relief once the boxes are packed and everyone is on their flight headed for home, but the work may not be finished. Taking a post-op look at what was achieved and how to do it better next time is best done while minds are fresh. Asking targeted questions and looking at results within the week following an event can deliver the best line of sight to the gains you made as an exhibitor. Likewise, inserting qualifiers on the front end of planning an event will ensure greater success and returns in the future.