How to Solve the ROI Mystery with a Little Trade Show Planning
After months trade show planning, decision-making, traveling and shaking hands… was it worth it? A successful trade show can bring you tons of solid leads from decision-makers, strengthen your brand and provide you with great industry knowledge, but will it bring all the results you were hoping for? The only way to tell for sure is with some pre-show planning, goal setting, and post-show measurement evaluation to determine your ROI (Return on Investment).
Step 1: What do you want to accomplish?
We have already talked about the overall 3 Key Phases for Exhibition Success, here we will focus on the “before” planning.
Months before the event, it is important to plan to determine your goals and objectives of what you hope to accomplish at the exhibition so that you can effectively gather the right information while you are there. Here you will define your overall strategy and business objectives.
What is your vision?
- Do you hope to grow your business? Want to generate quality leads? Long or short-term sales?
- Are you launching a new product?
- Do you want to check the pulse of your industry?
- Do you want to strengthen your brand?
With that data, you will be able to measure your results and ROI (Return on Investment) – that is the only way to tell if you have met your goals and see where you could improve next time.
Step 2: How are you going to measure your goals?
We suggest setting some clearly defined KPI’s or SMART objectives to help you determine the information you need to collect to meet your business objectives. SMART goals help focus each goal down to specific, bite-sized measurables that are realistic and provide results.
Note that these are missing the accountable owners and timeline (since the timing is all at the event).
- Obtain (number) new qualified leads by the end of the exhibition. How many leads were gathered compared to past events?
- Gather information from (number) of potential large customer and (number) of additional customers per day. We all want to catch big fish, but who knows what will come from the others?
- Reach out to (customer name) at the event to obtain (specific additional business).
- Social Reach: the number of likes, shares, clicks during the event to see if it has increased compared to normal (a few weeks before the event). Or how it has compared with your engagement during your last event?
- Website Analytics: Did your page views increase during the event? This is especially easy to check if you have an event landing page. This will show you if your company garnered additional awareness of your company and capabilities.
- Discover (number) new company related industry trends by attending (this educational event, seminar, workshop, conference, or networking event)
- Information gathering on your competition, to take to your team: how they are interacting with visitors and what they are offering.
- Discover what new products were announced and how they may impact your business to take back to your team.
- We will grow our (target social media channel) followers by (number per channel).
- We will write a list of common questions or pain points asked by visitors that we will address within (number) weeks after the show via (social media, infographic, video, email or newsletter)
Step 3: Post-show results. Did you meet your goals?
Exhibiting is a big investment, one that often has to be justified to someone.
Here is the (not so) fun number crunching part where you can see if all that goal-setting paid off. While all the number crunching may not be fun, it is the only way to remove the perception of how the team “felt” the show went, into what the actual results were!
This is where it gets tricky. There are two different things to measure at this point, the soft vs. the hard ROI. Not all of your measurements are going to directly result in the bottom line, but they are still very important.
How to Determine Your Total Trade Show ROI
These are all the goals that were set that directly impact your gains and financials. They are the easiest to measure as it can usually be directly tied to sales and numbers. Most of the suggested goals above are hard ROI goals including; the number of new leads, social reach, or website analytics. Asides from your goal results, looking at the overall ROI for your event participation can be done as follows:
Per HubSpot, you can measure your total event ROI by looking at your sales profit that was generated as a result of a connection made at the event. Obtaining this information is made easier to measure if your CRM allows for an event tag to assign to your customer/offer.
(Gross Profit – Marketing Expenses) / Marketing Expenses
This will show you if your gross profit is higher than your total investment, then you have a positive ROI. Depending on the length of your sales cycle, this could potentially be a long wait.
There is another way you can look at this metric.
Not just subsequent sales are important, sure they bring you quicker results, but the real teller is to measure your lifetime customer value (a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer).
After all, all subsequent business with that customer would not exist if you didn’t attend the event.
These are more difficult to measure, but are also critical indicators of your event participation success! These can include; increased brand awareness and reputation, improve onsight staff training, customer satisfaction, information gathering, and discovery. A very good article can be found here on how to creatively tackle soft ROI measurements.
But… Overall, Was it Worth it?
Your success is important to us! We can help with the stress of all those exhibiting details with our design and project management services, so that you have time to focus on getting the results you need. Not sure which exhibition is right for your business? We can help with that too!
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