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Rock Your Trade Show: Inspiring interviews with Industry Insiders, Executive Leaders, Marketers and Influencers who share their insights, challenges and lessons learned so you can rock Your next trade show.

Do you need to achieve results your marketing program and win leadership buy-in by showing results in what you do at work?

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Apr 15, 2019

Sometimes it can be hard to know how to go past cost per lead to demonstrate value you’re your face-to-face marketing program.  If you struggle with showing leadership value for your program-this episode will help you focus on key metrics and help you become a trade show shero or hero!

In a recent interview with Melanie Neal, she said something that has stuck with me.  When Melanie receives a request for a new initiative she will ask the requester “What does the data tell us?”.  Melanie, who is a Vice President at a large healthcare is on to something, and so often we shy away from data and rely on other factors like competitive advantages or FOMO (fear of missing out) which in face-to-face marketing is more like fear of what competitors and clients will think.

So how can we embrace data and start using it to our advantage? Here is a story to show why data is so important.  Our results division provides analysis and ROI modeling for trade shows.  In a recent project, Lynn Reves, our Marketing and Results Division Director shared that we are able to justify the spend for large trade show exhibit using ROI modeling that proves out the spend is paid for before leads are generated.  Sound good?

Imagine, if you could go to leadership and say “we need to be at this show-here is the data to show why, and by the way we have metrics that demonstrate how this show pays for itself”!  It is easy to overlook, or under-value key metrics that help deliver this message.  Here are five things to consider for your program and how data evaluation will help you move the ROI justification needle. 

5 Ways to Demonstrate Value with Data

  1. Define show goals and objectives to go beyond cost per lead. What does your company need to do to achieve sales results?  If you have a long sales cycle-it easy to rely on that timeline as a reason why it is hard to show ROI.  But don’t fall into that trap!  There are ways to move your sales and marketing initiatives forward even if it is a 6-18 month selling cycle. Establish milestones that demonstrate your face-to-face program helped sway the customer to “Yes”.
  2. Close the loop on post show follow up. Even if your company has the best CRM system in the world, if leads aren’t followed up on-and no action is taken, the value of the long-term solution for that customer is diminished to a faded memory.  This is one of the biggest challenges for trade show marketers and also one of the keys to success. 
  3. Align Sales and Marketing so that there is a common objective. Our free program assessment shows time and again that when sales and marketing making adjustments can be the key difference in achieving targeted goals.  When marketing and sales take the survey they can see visually on the results what they can do to improve together instead of in a silo.
  4. Focus on four key areas of measurement at your next show: new business, customer retention, value of promotion and communications, and cost avoidance. Each area has strategies that require actions to be made onsite exhibit staff. The first one-new business is obvious and the reason most companies attend a trade show.  Customer retention is often overlooked and it can lead to missed opportunities to grow the business you already have.  Add a value to your promotion (this can be sponsorship and advertising outreach for a show) and it will help bolster the data to show the exposure you are winning by attending.  Lastly-the cost avoidance is the one area that when truly implemented can in some cases pay for the entire conference.  If for example, you have a global company and senior leaders will be at the show-creating internal meetings instead of traveling separately to meet at a different time can really add up and the efficiency adds to the overall bottom line for the company.
  5. Go Beyond Cost Per lead. Measure these areas to really show results:
    • Executive Participation
    • Thought Leadership
    • Press and PR impact
    • Business development and competitive surveillance
    • Return on Objectives
    • Tech/Product Showcase
    • Cost-cost index to measure cost savings
    • Return on Investment-payback ratio


The last one on this list is the most valuable as it gives you the data you need to really measure the overall effectiveness of your program. 


Now that you have gathered the data you need a strategy to share this information you are ready to share it with your boss and leadership.  Hopefully as you embarked on the data journey you discovered what is the most important measurement for your company.  For some organizations, it could be as simple of staying ahead of the competition.  

Other companies have deeper strategic goals like increasing market share or increasing the sales prospect by expanding cross selling between products.  Whatever they are-they should be the cornerstone of your messaging.

In preparation for your presentation to leadership, keep it simple.  Don’t rely a huge slide deck-but rather have one page that summarizes your findings.  Often your time with leadership is very short and the more concise you are, the increased chances of achieving your results.  Remember these three tips-prepare, share and end with a call to action.  Just like your sales reps on the show floor, ask for what it is you need to help you continue to be successful.  One of my guests, Christine DiDomenico shared that when she met with leadership she had three columns, must do, nice to do and out of the box initiatives.  If you prepare your call to action with this in mind it will help shape the conversation and you will achieve your results.

How valued do you feel your trade show program is within your organization?  Do you feel like there is a disconnect between sales, marketing and leadership?  Check out our free online assessment and discover gaps and how you can align all stakeholders together.

I hope you have found this information helpful, if I can be of any help to you as you demonstrate and validate your program, reach out to me at talk I love hearing from you!

Credits: A special thanks to Christy Haussler from Team Podcast for editing this episode.