There are many ways to measure success of an exhibit marketing program. But details about who attended the event and who your staff actually engaged in your custom trade show exhibit is typically one of the most important measurements an event manager could provide.
Hosting attendees who can directly benefit your company is a prerequisite to every other aspect of a marketing or customer event. If the right people are not present, the messaging and engagement activities you have created become meaningless. Therefore, performance measurements of your efficiency in targeting and creating compelling invitations that bring in the right customers and prospects are factors you will need to report results and determine how to make improvements in the future.
The importance of attracting an adequate number of targeted people comes from our years of helping clients achieve their trade show goals. We have identified three factors that determine the success of an event:
- The ability to attract enough people who can personally deliver benefits to the exhibiting company.
- The ability of staff to communicate with these participants in a persuasive manner.
- The ability to solicit the desired behavioral response from these participants (i.e., to take the next step in the sales cycle or engage in another defined activity that demonstrates your company’s capabilities).
It is clear that without adequate targeted attendance the subsequent steps have no effect. Keeping a focus on identification, targeting and attracting the most valuable audience for every marketing event will do the most to increase your results and trade show ROI. This will also help develop more effective criteria for defining and obtaining qualified leads. A simple phrase that sums these ideas up is, “Those who attend must be those who can act in a way that benefits your company!”
To make a difference in an upcoming event requires that you begin your process a minimum of six months before the show date. It also requires that you involve sales, marketing and product management, if possible, in the discussions of who should be targeted at an event and how the needs of those targets, as potential customers, align with the benefits of the products or solution set to be showcased in your exhibit.
This approach can open new avenues of communication with a wider group of managers within your organization. The new players need adequate time to understand the opportunity and to “buy in” to the plan and to make their contributions to the final results.
Step 1 – Define the target audiences you seek to reach using a descriptive hierarchy
Consider a show that will be attended by over 100,000 people. You will likely target less than 20 percent of that number. Limited show hours and other exhibitors competing for each visitor’s time and attention may prevent you from seeing even those you have identified and targeted.
What happens if you don’t identify your target audience? You will simply be hoping that one qualified fish out of every five that swims by will jump into your boat. Leaving this to chance is not the best way to gain the success you are seeking! Working with a finite number of identified targets not only reduces your overall work to a more manageable level, but also can help you achieve your program’s goals.
Step 2 – Define the addressable audience
The chart above is from an actual report showing a pictorial analysis of the “target markets” available at the composite industry’s largest show. Each sub-market is plotted according to the percentage of total individuals participating in the event.
We can see at a glance that Transportation is the most prevalent segment represented, followed by Marine, Custom Molding and Aerospace.
Now, consider for a moment that the Electrical/Electronic products division of an exhibiting company wants to bring their entire line to the show because they are sharing in the budget. It is easy to conclude that doing so may not be a good use of space or expense. This is great information for answering the perennial question, “What products or solution sets should we build our engagement activities around?”
Step 3 – Attracting the targets
Often the best sources to consult are the demographic profile of show attendees available from show management. You should also use contact lists available from industry publications and your own marketing database. Develop and run a query based on your target criteria developed in Step 1 against these databases.
For a direct mail campaign before an event, you many purchase mailing address lists that match your criteria. Some shows will let you rent a list, but more often they will launch a campaign for you from their list. Review your exhibitor kit to arrange purchase of a list or learn details of the show’s distribution services.
Step 4 – And beyond
Once you have identified your targets, it is up to you to design and deliver a pre-event marketing campaigns that will draw them to your exhibit. Also, you should coordinate personal invitations from your executives and your sales team.
And, always remember that prospects are only one of the many valuable audiences at an event. Inviting current customers, partners, members of the press and other industry influencers to meet with your team will also contribute to the overall success of an event.
Track who visits your exhibit or event by stopping people at random and documenting their demographic profile. If you are doing a presentation at your booth, you can gather basic demographics while attendees wait for the speaker to begin. Exit surveys are another great way to gather information about attendees. You can also “swipe” badges for as many people as possible, offering a promotional item that will appeal to your targets. Next, run a measurement report of your attendance using the registration/leads data from show management.
Documenting as many visitors as possible is an excellent habit to develop. Be sure the people who respond to a pre-event marketing campaign or invitation are identified in the process. Compare your results to your original targets. A qualified lead should be a person who fits one of the targeted profiles.
When you invite the right targeted participants, event and exhibit staff will be much more effective in conveying the proper information and gaining commitments for follow-through. The people they see will be interested in what they are saying and the information will be relevant to them. You will go back to the office with quality leads for your sales team and measurable results for the other stakeholders counting on your program to bring success.
Tracking targeted attendees is critical in measuring success. For more information about the targeting process, contact Exhibitus Results Division today.