The Show’s Over, Now What?

As an exhibitor there are no shortage of trade shows for you to pick from. So once you set up an exhibit schedule, how do you keep from second-guessing yourself? How do you know if the trade shows you are attending are the best ones for your company? And once the show is over, how do you know if it was a success or not?

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that we encourage exhibitors to create a nine-step exhibit strategy that will help you narrow down the options, prioritize and organize your trade show calendar. But even after all the planning, you still need go back to measure and compare final results to your original expectations. In this blog post and in several upcoming posts, we will consider four post-show evaluation criteria to continuously refine and improve your trade show marketing results.

Measuring the Trade Show ROI

There are many ways to calculate the ROI of a trade show. Some are hard measures while others are more subjective. What were your strategic goals and objectives in attending this show? Where those goals met? How many leads did the show generate? What was the quality of those leads? Did you meet your sales goals? What was the average value of those sales? What is the estimated revenue that will generated from this trade show?

However calculating trade show ROI doesn’t stop with sales. What impact did exhibiting at this trade show have on your brand? How many branding impressions were generated? How many people in total visited your booth? How many attendees were exposed to your company and its message, even if they didn’t come to the booth? Of all the people who were exposed to your brand, what percentage of them fit your target profile? What is the value of that exposure? How much would it have cost to generate the same exposure using traditional marketing channels such as print advertising or TV commercials? How does the engagement generated through exhibiting compare to the typical level of engagement you have in other marketing channels? What is the value of that engagements? In other words, what would it have cost to generate the same level of engagement in other channels?

Were you a show sponsor? Did you use pre-show marketing? If you sent out direct mail or digital messages that invited attendees to attend your booth in exchange for a special offer or gift, how much response did that marketing generate? What was the quality of that booth traffic? Did you promote your booth on social or other marketing channels during the show? What was the impact and effectiveness of those efforts? Of the different promotions and marketing channels you used, which was the most effective? What implications do these findings have for future marketing efforts?

What was the level of press coverage at the show? Did your company receive any mentions or have interaction with the press? What is the value of that publicity? Your marketing or public relations department should be able to give you some benchmark guidelines for these calculations.

Not all of these calculations are possible for every trade show or every exhibitor. Nor is it necessary for you to measure every variable in order to determine if this particular trade show or event should remain on your calendar or not. The key is to determine in advance what metrics are most appropriate for your company and your needs. The more measurements you have, the stronger your business case will be to continue attending this trade show in the future or whether you need to research alternatives.

If you would like help with any element of your trade show strategy, our experienced team would be happy to provide you with a free, custom consultation. Contact us today.

Trade Booth Design on a Dime

If you’ve got an unlimited budget, you can hire an expensive, big name firm to create a glitzy, breath-taking structure that will be the talk of the show. However at ExpoPlus, we find most of our clients have to work with more modest budgets, many even on a shoestring.

To help our clients get the most for their marketing budget, we bring in our parent company, Bodden Partners. They are a full-service, marketing communications company with an award-winning strategy and design team. Together our team can help you hone your message, craft your offer and create functional, affordable trade show experiences that both command attention and invite interaction.

We use your company marketing and your exhibit strategy to determine the booth message and design. We always recommend that our clients look beyond pitching their product or service and focus on making a visit to the booth helpful and meaningful for attendees. What are their pain points and needs?  What problems can you solve for them? How can you help them? What opportunities can you create? In short, create a booth experience that is about the visitor, not just about your product.

If you would like to tap our expert guidance for your next show, contact Jim Seafort for a custom consultation.

9 Tips to Maximize Booth Sales

At Disneyland, they call all their employees “cast members,” because they’re all part of the “show” that’s taking place everywhere in the park, all the time. Trade show exhibitors and your booth staffers are putting on a show, too. How can you be more effective?

American Image Displays created a list of do’s and don’ts for booth staffers. Be sure to review them with your booth staff before your next event.

Make Your Business Case for Attending Industry Conferences

It’s no secret that people are cutting back on attending conferences. Even if your organization has a bulletproof marketing plan for enticing your membership, it won’t work if prospective participants can’t convince the people holding the purse strings.

All too often, people who want to attend a conference simply submit a request and cross their fingers. As a meeting professional, you can help your members by showing them how to put together a business case for why they should attend your conference—and how to get the most out of the event once they’re there. (And note this: As a meeting professional, you also can use this strategy yourself, to get approval for the meeting industry education and networking conferences you personally want to attend each year.)

All prospective conference attendees should show their leaders how conference participation will relate directly to the strategies and objectives of their own organizations. That way, they can articulate the value of their continued professional development.

Imagine your organization sending an e-mail or pamphlet to your membership that contains information like this:

How to Get Approval to Attend This Year’s Annual Conference
In our current economic climate, getting approval to attend meetings may be more challenging for you now than it has been in the past. Here are three steps you can use to build a business case for attending our Annual Meeting:

1. Write down the three to five most important strategies or issues being addressed in your organization right now. Think about how you personally contribute to those strategies. How is your work aligned with the larger organization’s strategy or mission? Make a list of these “personal contributions to strategy.”
2. Review our proposed agenda for the conference and mark the sessions you want to attend that relate to your list of “personal contributions to strategy,” and also make a note of speakers or other people at the meeting you would like to meet.
3. Write a short business case for how attending these sessions and meeting these people will help you contribute to the organization’s strategy. Use this business case to make your request for attending the meeting.

For example, part of your business case might read as follows: “At present, our organization is highly focused on cost savings. My personal contribution to this organizational strategy is to be responsible for finding ways to reduce sales costs. At the XYZ annual conference there is a session entitled, ‘Using Technology to Maximize Sales Efficiencies,’ and an expert, Sarah Smith, will be running the session. I would like to attend Smith’s session and also meet with her privately in order to get ideas about maximizing the cost savings we could receive from using technology in my area.”

Preparing for the Meeting
Once you get approval, you should prepare properly for the conference because you’re going to need to demonstrate to the person who’s paying your way that you received the benefits outlined in your business case. Here are some things you can do to prepare for the conference:

1. Make a list of people you’d like to meet at the conference and why you want to meet them. Don’t be shy about approaching presenters and other “luminaries.” They are more accessible than you might think, especially if you make plans with them in advance.
2. About one to two weeks prior to the conference, contact the people on your list. Make a specific plan for a meal, coffee, or a time and place to get together.
3. One week prior to the meeting, make a personal agenda for yourself that includes the people you’re meeting as well as which sessions you’ll be attending. Be sure to include cellphone numbers or any other contact information you may need for any last-minute changes to your schedule.
4. When you’re at the meeting, try to stick to your schedule as much as possible and take notes during the educational sessions and during your private conversations. However, leave some “white space” on your calendar in case you encounter new people at the meeting with whom you’d like to spend some time.

After the Meeting
1. Immediately following the conference (perhaps on the airplane ride home), write or dictate a concise summary of what happened at the conference and how you will use the information you received and contacts you made to further the strategies of your organization. It’s important to write this one- or two-page summary quickly, while the information is fresh in your mind. Use the notes you took at the meeting to help you.
2. Submit the summary to the person who sponsored your attendance, thanking him or her for the opportunity. The purpose of this summary is to make your next conference request even easier than the first. Once your executives understand that you mean business when you attend a conference, they’ll be more likely to quickly approve your participation at future events.
3. If the knowledge you gained might also be useful to others in your organization, consider rewriting portions of your summary as a blog or Twitter post.

Attending conferences is one of the best ways of responding to times of increased uncertainty. Conferences are all about collaboration and learning—essential ingredients for innovation, economic recovery, and organizational success.

Mary Boone is president of Boone Associates, Essex, Conn. She has been an expert in interactive meeting design for over two decades. At the height of the meetings crisis in 2008, she wrote a white paper, The Four Elements of Strategic Value for Meetings and Events, which is included in the curriculum for MPI’s CMM designation. She is also the author of several books, including “Managing Interactively” (McGraw-Hill) and “Leadership and the Computer” (Prima Publishing), and numerous other award-winning articles and publications. If you have any questions about this article, please contact her at or via Twitter @maryboone.

Five top tips to starting a successful business

As LinkedIn is a business that started in a living room, much like Virgin began in a basement, I thought my first blog on the site should be about how to simply start a successful business. Here are five top tips I’ve picked up over the years.

1. Listen more than you talk
We have two ears and one mouth, using them in proportion is not a bad idea! To be a good leader you have to be a great listener. Brilliant ideas can spring from the most unlikely places, so you should always keep your ears open for some shrewd advice. This can mean following online comments as closely as board meeting notes, or asking the frontline staff for their opinions as often as the CEOs. Get out there, listen to people, draw people out and learn from them.

2. Keep it simple
You have to do something radically different to stand out in business. But nobody ever said different has to be complex. There are thousands of simple business solutions to problems out there, just waiting to be solved by the next big thing in business. Maintain a focus upon innovation, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. A simple change for the better is far more effective than five complicated changes for the worse.

3. Take pride in your work
Last week I enjoyed my favourite night of the year, the Virgin Stars of the Year Awards, where we celebrated some of those people who have gone the extra mile for us around the Virgin world. With so many different companies, nationalities and personalities represented under one roof, it was interesting to see what qualities they all have in common. One was pride in their work, and in the company they represent. Remember your staff are your biggest brand advocates, and focusing on helping them take pride will shine through in how they treat your customers.

4. Have fun, success will follow
If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong. If you feel like getting up in the morning to work on your business is a chore, then it’s time to try something else. If you are having a good time, there is a far greater chance a positive, innovative atmosphere will be nurtured and your business will fluorish. A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life.

5. Rip it up and start again
If you are an entrepreneur and your first venture isn’t a success, welcome to the club! Every successful businessperson has experienced a few failures along the way – the important thing is how you learn from them. Don’t allow yourself to get disheartened by a setback or two, instead dust yourself off and work out what went wrong. Then you can find the positives, analyse where you can improve, rip it up and start again.