The Key to Trade Show Independence

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Trade shows and events are a piece of the marketing puzzle that tends to have many people within an organization involved. Marketing generally tasked with organizing, sales to work the floor, technical people to give the detail, finance and accounting to monitor the spend and sometimes the exec team depending on the visibility. And while marketing has to carry most of the burden, there tend to be many others who have vocal opinions on the shows/events. With the celebration of Independence Day just a few days away, I figured it could be good to discuss the best path to gaining independence in an organization’s trade show campaign.

It has been awhile since we have discussed the CTSM, Certified Trade Show Marketer, curriculum in this blog (see past blogs here, here, here for several mentioning it), and truthfully it has been a few years since I finished taking the classes, but one of the things that becomes very apparent, very quickly is the importance of gathering and utilizing data in successful trade show campaigns. Even though there is so much data that can and should be tracked for each and every event, typically only leads, and maybe sales on the floor are tracked. Understanding how to best use data not only facilitates running the trade show campaign efficiently and effectively, but also provides the marketer with the independence to create and manage its elements. If need be, it can arm you against the other cooks in the kitchen.

What data am I talking about specifically?

Ultimately, return on investment (ROI). Getting there will require tracking all spending, all leads (ideally through to sale if the cycle is fast enough), booth size, booth staff, brand impressions and event length. Tracking this will give a clear picture of which shows are best, which displays are best, even which sales people are best! Let’s give some examples of data driven solutions to common trade show scenarios:

  • While we spend 20% more on this show, it has made us X dollars in sales the last three years which is 50% higher than average shows.
  • We get 3x more leads per hour at this event than these others, let’s increase our booth size
  • Bill and Tammy close 90+% of their trade show leads so we need them at this show.
  • The 20×20 gives us 50% more brand impressions and an average of 75% more sales than the 10×10, it looks like we should use it at these 3 shows this year
  • This show ends up costing us X dollars, so let’s use our budget for this show to meet with these five priority clients elsewhere
  • Our annual campaign cost $250k but netted us $1.5M in revenue, that outperformed all other marketing categories, I’ve targeted these 2 additional shows to add next year to build upon that

Data gives weight to the responses to objections and clearly illustrates what may not be so clear without tracking. Often I hear “we got this many leads” or “the show had this many attendees this year” as the only takeaway either positive or negative. The data shows value.

The reason data isn’t used is because it isn’t always easy to track. To be successful with it, you have to have a plan in place up front for what to track and how to track it. Software like Event Suite that we offer from Exhibitforce is a tool designed specifically to track and parse relevant event data. Also, setting the expectation with sales that leads and sales from shows need to be tracked. The benefit to them is the data will make sure they’re only having to go to shows that set them up for success.

We’re happy to discuss how this can apply to your trade show and event strategy! Contact us to learn how you can be utilizing data for full independence over your trade show campaign!