Warren Buffet, dispensing billionaire advice
Rule No. 1: Don’t lose money.
Rule No.2: Don’t forget Rule No.1
These “rules” of business are attributed to legendary investor Warren Buffet.
How have they worked for him?
Well, given that Warren’s current net worth is estimated to be around $80 billion, I think that we would have to say that they have worked extremely well.
In fact, they have made him one of the five richest men in the world, a list he has been placed on for many years now.
As far as I know, WB has never commented on trade show participation.
However, I’m sure that if he did, he would offer sage advice (Warren Buffet is known as The Sage of Omaha).
What I do know about him though is his thoroughness in assessing an investment proposition.
This is where we can learn and apply his “rules” to our particular environment.
Event participation should be a paying proposition
If you are not sure whether your event spend is making your business money, take the time to find out.
Make a thorough assessment of your participation costs.
Floor space and display costs. Transport, hotels, and travel. Costs for electrics, furniture and internet connection.
If you have an event budget that lists all direct and indirect costs this will make the job of identifying all costs, very easy.
If you don’t have a list, create one.
By going through all of the steps associated with organising your event, you can identify all event-related cost areas.
Next, itemise the value gained from that spend on a show by show basis.
You need to be thorough in your assessment of results.
There will be tangible results like leads collected.
Some or many of these will turn into sales.
Hopefully, your tracking is picking those sales up and logging them to the correct source.
Then there will be softer success measures.
Don’t forget to include things like market exposure; samples distributed; agents signed.
You might also include things like client meetings held. Media coverage obtained. Content viewed. Social followers gained…
Assign a value to all of these “results” so that you can see whether or not your event marketing is a paying proposition in its widest sense.
How does your event list stack-up?
Whether you do one show or a series of events, you can evaluate the total value that event participation is yielding.
You can, of course, compare individual events against each other to see which perform strongest for your business.
As long as you are using the same value scale for each event in your comparison, you can rank them effectively by results.
You can also compare event spend against spend on other forms of marketing.
However, when you do this you really need to assign values based on the qualities of each communication tool.
For instance, would you rank an email campaign that delivers clicks higher in value than personal, face to face conversations with real people?
What value do you assign to a direct and highly personal medium compared to a much more distanced form of communication?
You tell me, but base the answer on a longer-term results assessment.
In other words, look at the results that you get from each communication channel vs. their cost.
Don’t outspend the returns from a show
This means; tailor your show spend to the level of results that each event delivers.
Take a smaller display space at new events until they are tested.
Don’t book big increases in stand space until you are sure that your results are likely to grow accordingly.
Don’t be tempted to go to a bigger space just to outdo a competitor. That’s an expensive form of vanity and can lead you to break Rule No.1.
It can also lead to the dropping of shows that “aren’t performing” when the truth is they probably would deliver a return if the budget was more modest.
To deliver on Rules 1 & 2 be prepared to take action
Recently I heard about a long-term exhibitor at a very big show. This company had for many years taken a very large stand space in a prominent position but results from the show had been dropping due to consolidation in the market the show serves.
The company in question was doing well if it broke even from each event but still, it kept the large space and position it had always had.
Until that is they thought about cancelling their space at the show altogether.
This decision didn’t make sense as there is still good business to be had in what is a core market for the business.
My advice was to talk to the organiser about the problem.
What was agreed was that they could cut their space in half while still retaining their long-held position on the floor.
The organiser created another stand on their vacant space and both parties were happy.
That’s because both parties were focused on Rule No.1.
Learn from every event you take part in
To say that the outlook for business at the moment is uncertain is an understatement.
Yet, uncertain doesn’t necessarily mean bad. It means that things are less predictable.
There are more unknowns than usual to deal with.
For this reason, it’s really important to evaluate your results and to do so in the widest possible sense.
Your business exists for the long-term. There is a market that it chooses to serve, long-term.
One of the best ways to know what’s really happening in a market is to talk to lots of the people within it.
To hear first hand about the problems and opportunities that exist.
Trade shows, of course, provide this opportunity to you in a way few other channels can match.
The important thing is to use the opportunities in a way that makes them a paying proposition for your business.
Keep doing that and you’ll be meeting Warren’s Rules 1 and 2 with no problem at all.