You have included exhibiting at trade shows in your marketing plan for this year and have allocated budget and resources.
You’re now finalising your strategy, researching what options will provide the best return on investment and considering the next steps to ensure an excellent trade show performance.
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) predicts a 3.5% growth in the exhibition industry in 2018 from its previous peak in 2007. So, if you’re planning to exhibit at a trade show this year, you’re in good company.
Here we detail the five principles that contribute to a winning formula for success. Get these right, and your new exhibition forecast will most certainly be favourable.
Step 1: Be Clear on Your Objectives
To select the most effective trade show, first be clear on the reason why you are exhibiting. A report from CEIR suggests 99 objectives for having an exhibition presence, most falling into two broad categories: sales or communications.
Sales objectives will boost business revenue and could include:
- Generating new business leads
- Using an exhibition as a venue to conduct sales meetings
- Promoting products and services on the day
Communications objectives are aligned with marketing, such as:
- Using an exhibition as a platform to launch a new product
- Raising brand awareness
- Strengthening relationships with existing customers
Step 2: Set Measurable Goals
Technology and data analysis means you can now accurately measure the impact of a new exhibition on the bottom line. Evaluating your event ROI with tangible data and implementing an evaluation procedure from the outset will focus your attention and enable you to set goals as well as thoroughly assess activity post-event.
Exhibitor Magazine suggests various methods to measure the estimated impact on your company’s revenue, total cost savings, the value of activities and impressions as well as the payback ratio from a trade show event.
The following calculation estimates revenue returns. Based on previous trade show experiences, first ask your sales team for data on the average number of sales leads that are gathered at an exhibition. The average close rate, which is the number of trade show leads that result in a sale or new contract. And the average value of a sale or new contract.
Number of Sales Leads x Close Rate x Average Value of a Sale or Contract = Estimated Revenue
Or if you are completely new to exhibiting, CEIR has the following method to forecast the number of leads you might generate:
- Find out the total number of registrations and the percentage of attendees that fit your target customer profile from the exhibition organiser = X%
Not every one of the exhibition’s visitors will be relevant to your business, so there will be times when your stand team is speaking with people who are not prospective customers. Even a percentage that seems low at 10% of 5,000 visitors is still 500 potential new leads.
- Average time taken to engage a lead = Y
Estimate 10 minutes, so six engagements per hour.
- Total number of exhibition hours, taking into consideration keynote speeches or popular workshops = Z
Estimate 20 hours.
- Use that data for this calculation: Z x Y x X% = number of qualified leads you should be able to generate.
20 hours x 6 engagements per hour x 10% = 12 qualified leads. Therefore, a realistic target for a two-day exhibition would be 12 excellent prospective clients.
In addition to forecasting revenue generated from converted leads and trade show lead generation, also set goals for, and track, metrics such as:
- number of visitors to your booth
- number of VIPs, stakeholders, existing customers and warm leads engaged
- number of on-site demos
- number of converted leads
- win rate percentage
- average time to close a deal after the show
- new customer lifetime value
- uptake of an exclusive event promotion
Wider marketing metrics might include:
- website hits
- new social media followers during the event and for a set timeframe after
- brand awareness
- eBook or report downloads
Step 3: Pick the Perfect Show
Once the purpose is confirmed and you have your target goals and measures in place, you can then narrow down options depending on specific criteria such as budget, location, date, number and demographics of attendees, reputation, booth space availability and marketing opportunities.
When you have a shortlist, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this show deliver our ideal business prospects?
- Does it reach a large volume of our target audience?
- Will it offer excellent trade show lead generation?
- Will it enable us to meet the goals we’ve set for each of our objectives?
Step 4: Build an Eye-Catching Exhibition Stand
Designing an exhibition stand with the wow-factor will draw visitors to your brand on the day. It will also make certain that they remember you and recall your stand when the trade show is long over.
First impressions count, so make your booth an immersive, entertaining or informative space. Consider utilising the latest in technology and attendee experience trends including artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality as well as innovative experiential activity.
People attend exhibitions because they appreciate the face-to-face contact and in-person relationship building. Digital is highly effective when used as a means to facilitate connections between people. Create shareable moments for those who are attending to amplify your brand visibility and spread the word outside of the event. For example, by encouraging attendees to post a picture whilst on your stand to their social media channels by using holograms, famous brand ambassadors or exciting backdrops.
Drive awareness beforehand by inviting people to visit your booth, but ensure you are attracting organic footfall with a welcoming and interesting stand. Consider your space and location in the design stage. Perhaps your booth is in a great area with high traffic but a lot of competing stands vying for visitor attention. Or if you’re in a quieter area, then signage will be important.
Step 5: Add Engaging People into the Mix
Envisage this scenario: you’ve chosen the ideal show and have created an attention-grabbing stand but no one is engaging with it. Your ideal customers are pausing briefly before moving on, or worse, walking straight past. Why? Your stand is not staffed by the right people.
Employing talented booth staff will ensure passers-by are pursued, qualified and drawn onto your stand, visitors are engaged once there, the relevant data is collected and a positive first impression created. This is a fine art. Over eager booth staff can repel visitors in the same way that disengaged staff can.
Ensure you are selecting the most competent team members for each task, and that you have the appropriate mix of people. Exhibition staff can include booth hosts/hostesses, brand ambassadors, spokesmodels, narrators, presenters, emcees, lead generators, sales staff, crowd gatherers and interpreters/translators.
Imagine you are recruiting for a job, you wouldn’t simply hire a candidate based on their appearance from one profile photo. Get references, assess their skills and credentials, conduct interviews and determine if they are a desirable ‘fit’ for your brand.
Use experienced staffing companies to manage this process for you as well as oversee staff performance during the event. Avoid the urge to scrimp on this stage, it will cost you in the long run. Finding the perfect booth hosts is critical to the success of your trade show performance.
By following this five-step formula to forecast a profitable trade show you’ll guarantee the success of every new exhibition.
Expo Stars is a trade show lead generation specialist that helps exhibitors target and approach the people that matter to them most through technology, strategy and other leading practices. Speak to our team today to find out more.