It is often said that if you don't know where you are going, you may miss it when you get there. And, as Malcolm Forbes also points out, "If you don't know what you want to do, it's harder to do it." This is good advice especially in the trade show exhibit arena. It is crucial to establish goals and set objectives before you plan to exhibit at a trade show. As with any important marketing effort, you measure success by how well the activity performs against your stated goals. For example, ask how many hot leads do I need in order to justify the cost of our exhibit? What is my projected close rate needed to warrant my trade show booth budget? You get the idea.
Start by being clear when you consult with your top management and marketing teams as to the reasons why your company wants to exhibit in a particular trade show. Ask the tough question -do you plan to have a trade show display because your competition is exhibiting or is it because you want a set return on your trade show investment? Analyze in advance what you want to achieve from your trade show display, convey this to your exhibit team, and put it down on paper.
Here are nine key goal setting recommendations from "Tips & Techniques For Exhibiting Success" by Nomadic Display:
1. Trade show display objectives should reinforce your corporate marketing goals. Clear, concise trade show exhibit objectives need to be in sync with your overall marketing plan, not function independently of it.
2. Is increasing your brand identity at the trade show a key reason to attend? How will you brand your trade show exhibit? Will your logo be part of the branding? Will you incorporate your brand on all your handouts?
3. Do you expect to increase sales on the trade show floor? If so, by how much? Be realistic and set attainable sales figures.
4. Outline your expected trade show results. The more specific, the better. Are you planning to introduce new products or services at the trade show? If so, what are they and how will you showcase these new products/services?
5. Is an important emphasis of your trade show display to educate your target audience? If it is, will you have on-site speakers, website presentations, handouts at your trade show booth display?
6. Do you expect to gather industry information and customer preferences at the trade show? Do you have a formal survey and will you offer incentives for people to fill out your survey?
7. Is one of your goals to attract new business? If so, how many new orders do you feel are realistic?
8. Is recruiting new dealers or distributors a priority? If so, how many new dealers or distributors will be at the trade show?
9. Do you expect to educate customers? How do you plan to do this? Free literature Handouts? Internet presentations? In-person talks by your top management?
By putting your goals in writing, you have a list that you can manage and measure. Your specific goals need to be realistic and timed. Make deadlines and meet them.
You already know that trade show displays can enhance your marketing plans with measurable results. You now need to focus first on your goals and objectives so that your measurement and return on trade show investment are indeed meaningful.
By: Dick Wheeler