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Forecast! Start Your Measurement Before the Event Begins

Forecasting can make a significant difference in how your event is perceived, how it performs and how it is evaluated.  Forecasting is simply an estimate, in advance, of the results of your key measures and performance expectations for an event based on set objectives.

By understanding these goals, you can evaluate whether you have the resources and tactics required to match expectations to ensure a positive trade show ROI. Adjustments to staff size, pre-show marketing spend and engagement opportunities through interactive exhibit designs in the booth are less costly and better executed, if determined long before the show opens.

Also, by providing a realistic forecast, you have the opportunity to set expectations with upper management and other stakeholders regarding outcomes. This is extremely important as there is little you can do to deliver success if executives and other stakeholders already have unrealistic expectations for the results of an upcoming event.

Forecasting is also the tool that allows you to compare a new event you may be considering with the ones where you currently exhibit. This is achieved by forecasting the results of a consistent set of key measures that match those you use to evaluate your current events. Additionally, the payback ratio can be estimated for a prospective event and compared with existing events.

The process is to simply rank all of your current events from best to worst using the most recent performance data and then add the forecasted event results into the mix for consideration. You will be able to readily see where proposed events fall among existing ones. If the new events appear high on the list according to the payback ratio, then you may consider eliminating or cutting back lower performing events in order to fund the newer ones.

One caution to consider is that you must ensure that lower performing events are not “automatically justified” because of certain qualitative factors, such as your company’s president being the chairman of the event sponsor association or a member of the management team giving an educational session.

When qualitative considerations have been made, you can then total up expected costs and draw a line where spending meets allocated budget. This will provide the best mix of shows and will also equip you to best represent suggested changes to others who might have personal reasons for wanting to continue attending lower performing events.  Providing expectations based on facts and solid projections, not just opinions, will gain greater respect for the value you and your team offer the company.

The following variables can be forecasted for an upcoming trade show:

  1. Estimating Resources
    • Size – The number of forecasted visitors at an event is typically provided by the show organizers. Use this number, as well as the venue size, to determine the size of exhibit needed to assure your company’s visibility within the exhibit hall.
    • Staff – Having too many staff members in a booth could be worse than having too few. You can derive the correct number of staff required to handle the forecasted number of visitors to your exhibit for the show. Remember, sometimes an expert is required to man a demo station even though they might not get the forecasted number of visitors.
    • Cost – When size, tactics and staff are all adjusted based upon forecasted results, it is much easier to adjust the cost of the event with confidence. The optimum amount to spend on an event should be directly based upon the marketing opportunity associated with participating. This will allow your company to remix investment levels for maximum results.
  2. Estimating Results
    • Number of Visitors
    • Number of Engaged Prospects
    • Number of Committed Leads
  3. Expected Sales Results
    • Using the sales funnel approach, you can estimate the dollar value of the sales opportunity based upon the number of projected leads by product category.
  4. Cost Savings
    • Estimating and then producing cost savings is a great way to enhance your plan and results.
  5. Customer Relationship Management Value
    • Number of customers addressable at the event
    • Average value of a customer at the event
    • Addressable current revenue represented at the event
    • Cross-selling opportunities
    • Account “saves” opportunities, with associate revenue value
  6. Promotion Impact
    • Number of Impressions (Gross and Targeted)
    • Advertising Equivalent Value (Media Value)
  7.  Payback Ratio and ROI
    • Estimate the probable value in the following categories
      • New Revenue
      • Customer Relationship and Retention Management
      • Cost Avoidance
      • Promotional Value

Compare all of these results to the cost of the event. This payback ratio is necessary for assessing the value, ranking and comparison of current or future events. Forecasting is an essential element in event marking success. Without it, there is no way to know what results should be expected and thus, how much to spend.

Event marketing budgets should be directly correlated with the opportunity an event presents. And, as mentioned before, the job of the event manager becomes considerably easier as you get better results and the recognition you deserve when you set realistic expectations internally.

Forecasting based on established objectives is critical in maintaining executive management support for investment in future events. For more information about the forecasting process, contact Exhibitus Results Division today.