Trade show objectives: How to set measurable and realistic objectives for event participation

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Posted by , 17th March 2017

Trade show objectives. This is a guide to setting measurable event objectives

Trade shows can be used for many different things. They are a very versatile marketing tool.

To know if your company has had a successful event, you need to map out in advance what success looks like in the minds of your colleagues, your boss and you.

If this sounds simple and obvious, it is. Unfortunately, many exhibitors don’t know what their success measures are going to be before they book their space.

This is an omission that can cause angst and recrimination after a show.

Why are you exhibiting?

The obvious (and most common) reason given for exhibiting is to make sales or to generate leads.

These are worthy aspirations but, they are too vague. Specific success measures need to be defined.

Revenue numbers for orders placed during or immediately after the show should be stated. As should the number of leads you want or expect to capture.

In order to get those target numbers, you need to base your estimates on something tangible.

Look back for clues to what was achieved last time

If you have access to results information from the last event, you can see what was actually achieved last time.

Hopefully for both revenue and sales leads. Sadly, this isn’t always recorded. How do you know if a lead target for the next show is realistic? Here’s a simple method you can use to assess the goal.

You have been set a target of capturing 150 leads 

If the event is open for seven hours a day over three days, your stand team will need to collect an average of 7-8 leads per hour to achieve your lead target for the show

150 total leads divided by 3 show days = 50 leads per day
50 leads divided by 7 show open hours per day =  7-8 leads per hour.

Many trade shows close one hour earlier on the last day and where this is the case, your lead average per hour will be a bigger number;

150 leads divided by 20 show open hours = 8 (7.5) leads per hour.

150 leads is a big target and most exhibitors won’t be aiming for anywhere near this total, but it serves as an example.

Identify the potential

The object of this exercise is to assess for yourself whether or not an objective is realistic.

Is the potential there to achieve the goal?  Should you adjust the goal up or down based on what the information is telling you?

Check the data that can help you achieve your goals

This data should include attendance information from the organiser and not just the total attendance to the last show.

If possible obtain a daily breakdown. Some show days will be busier than others and some parts of each day will be busier than others (plan your staff rota accordingly).

This information provides the core data that will enable you to see if your lead target is realistic.

When making your assessment of the target, you can also factor in the number of clients and prospective clients that you have invited and the likelihood of their attendance based on what you know about them.

The size of your stand and the number of people that you have working with you might also be factors to consider.

If your stand is small that could affect the numbers of visitors that can be on the stand at any one time. Have a plan for this eventuality. Likewise, have a plan if it will be just you and a colleague working a stand for all or most of the show.

Of course, not everyone who attends the show will come onto your stand (unless it’s a very small event) but you should be able to set some kind of benchmark target based both on previous experience of the event (if your company has exhibited previously) and the attendance stats supplied for the last event by the organiser.

It’s not an exact science

This isn’t an exact science. During the show you may have hours where you exceed your target and others where you don’t. That’s not the reason for this exercise.

The purpose is to help you establish a realistic goal (which puts you in control); to make things more tangible when given a vague goal to achieve by someone else and to help you as the designated event manager decide on what potential an event might offer your business. Especially if you haven’t thought about things this way before.

This approach works for other vague objectives too

You can take a similar “breaking things down” approach when dealing with other “objectives.”

These are other types of vague goals that might need some clarification in advance in order to avoid recriminations post-show. Examples here could include;

  • “Orders won”
  • “Profile raised”
  • “Market impact achieved”
  •  Agents signed”
  • “Export orders won”

Work back from these wished for outcomes as explained for quantifying a lead target. The objective is to arrive at a realistic and tangible goal rather than a statement of intent.

Use any relevant information that you can access internally or from the organising company.

Once you have this, get agreement from your boss or colleagues on what the target should actually be using the information you have put together as a guide.

When the show is over you will be able to review your results with your colleagues against objectives that all key players have signed-off on. This puts less pressure on you.

Posted in Trade show marketing  /  Trade show objectives  /  Trade show sales

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