Trade shows can provide a great platform to meet prospective customers, strengthen relationships with existing clientele, and increase brand awareness. But they can also be costly. Proper planning, gathering, measuring, and understanding data from each show will tell you whether or not it was worth the investment to exhibit at that show. Every trade show is different, so unless you measure positive feedback and year-end statistics, you won’t know which ones are worth it.
We talk a lot about the need for every touchpoint with our customers to be a positive brand experience. The trade show environment is a perfect place to express the very best your brand has to offer. And the perfect place to measure how your brand is perceived. But only if you plan, prepare, and execute the plan accordingly. Let’s look at what analysis and data from good show planning, tracking, and observation can yield.
One of the first things to review is how you allocated funds, and if your budget outlay met or exceeded expectations. Your trade show budget doesn’t have to be high to be effective, as long as your plan of attack is well thought out, memorable, creative, and then measured. Explore how you’ll get the biggest bang for the buck and pull more than one lever in your efforts. The synergy that’s gained through a well-planned campaign that covers before, during, and after your show can provide much greater ROI.
Next, review your lead captures. At each show, you should be capturing lead data of attendees who visit your booth. Using the latest technology like badge scanners and tablets, you can easily acquire prospects’ information and determine if they are qualified for your business. As you review your leads combined with the analytics of your integrated marketing efforts (digital and physical—before, during, and after the show), you should be able to determine which of your approaches worked best, and pinpoint where tweaks or elimination are needed.
It could be your analytics are showing it was your awesome email and social media campaign pre-show, along with your post-show follow through that yielded best results for your target. Or perhaps it was your simple, yet powerfully designed booth and physical assets that stole the show and attracted customers. Or a combination of both. Whatever it may be, having good records of how your strategies performed is essential to knowing how you should move forward in the seasons and years to come. This will also help determine if you should continue to invest your time, effort, and money in the same way.
One other great metric is simple observation. Have team members not only look at your competition for best in class, but also observe what happens in your booth. Ethnographic and observational research can determine location, proximity, and even scale, size, and structure requirements. Sometimes the best property is an open, clean environment with lots of space to show product. Other times, a smaller, more confined space actually creates disruption that causes traffic to slow down, creating a sell zone for your booth staff.
But don’t ask your booth to do everything. It should be a backdrop for and presentation of your brand, that provides the perfect venue for your people to do their work.
Looking back on the last year, two of our clients had very different strategies, but a very similar level of success at their trade shows—FOX and Archroma. In crowded venues and exhibit halls, their brands and booths were able to establish a presence and make connections with their audience. For both clients, we created integrated campaigns that were engaging and interactive with their target audiences. We used simple but memorable creative approaches, videos for storytelling, and unique premiums at the booths to engage attendees. These methods allowed our clients to stand out from the competition and increase brand awareness. With proper lead capturing and post-show follow-ups, both clients were then able to convert new prospects into clientele.
Looking back at the analytics from FOX and Archroma over the year, both companies discovered areas to adjust their trade show presence, and also found that their ROI well justified their show expense. So, regardless of the size of your next show and whether it’s your 1st or your 100th, make the most of each opportunity to form a new impression and create a brand experience with your booth. And be sure to gather and study the data from your marketing efforts so you can achieve even more impressive results in the future.