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Imagine This Scenario 

You’ve only been in your position for a short while. But, you’ve been busy digging up information about your company’s trade show activity for the last 5 years. At least there are decent records on spending, attendance, and leads captured. Like most companies, however, they haven’t done anything with these statistics.

 

At the meeting with the C-Suite you put up no immediate objection to the suggested budget cuts. That surprises the CMO. There are shows on the calendar whose participation and investment levels warrant scrutiny. Yet, you propose an approach that is geared at reallocation and justification based on business value. This is not simply cutting costs. He starts to ease back in his chair as you confidently ask him to leave the current budget as-is for now. You promise that within 6 months you will completely reevaluate the proposed schedule and provide a consistent and actionable framework to evaluate your company’s investments.

Imagine This Scenario 

You’ve only been in your position for a short while. But, you’ve been busy digging up information about your company’s trade show activity for the last 5 years. At least there are decent records on spending, attendance, and leads captured. Like most companies, however, they haven’t done anything with these statistics.

 

At the meeting with the C-Suite you put up no immediate objection to the suggested budget cuts. That surprises the CMO. There are shows on the calendar whose participation and investment levels warrant scrutiny. Yet, you propose an approach that is geared at reallocation and justification based on business value. This is not simply cutting costs. He starts to ease back in his chair as you confidently ask him to leave the current budget as-is for now. You promise that within 6 months you will completely reevaluate the proposed schedule and provide a consistent and actionable framework to evaluate your company’s investments.

We’ve all heard the business-world bromide that “what you measure matters”. Trade show and event analysis offers solid proof for that old chestnut. Don't sell your program short. Install measurement strategies that capture the value of a wide-ranging set of objectives. Aim at both sides of the profit equation; revenues and costs.

If you can’t tally an event’s full value against its full cost, you’ll be unable to offer strategic suggestions. If you aren’t able to use historical results and trends to predict future performance, you’re missing out. This is an opportunity to be seen as someone who is a careful steward of company funds. This is an opportunity to be on the lookout for new ways to produce increased value for your company.

The 4 Value Drivers 

Trade show and event strategies and measurement should be geared toward both elements in the profit equation: maximizing revenues and minimizing costs. Every trade show professional should be capturing metrics and assigning dollar values to each of 4 Value Drivers that can be achieved by trade shows and events:

  • Revenue Generation
  • Revenue Retention
  • Promotional Value
  • Cost Reduction

The 3 Cost Centers

To objectively compare event to event, one must also account for the costs associated with each effort. A measurement and analysis effort that includes robust evaluations of the 4 Value Drivers must also include accurate metrics for each of 3 Cost Centers expended by trade shows and events:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Opportunity Cost

The 4 Value Drivers 

Trade show and event strategies and measurement should be geared toward both elements in the profit equation: maximizing revenues and minimizing costs. Every trade show professional should be capturing metrics and assigning dollar values to each of 4 Value Drivers that can be achieved by trade shows and events:

  • Revenue Generation
  • Revenue Retention
  • Promotional Value
  • Cost Reduction

The 3 Cost Centers

To objectively compare event to event, one must also account for the costs associated with each effort. A measurement and analysis effort that includes robust evaluations of the 4 Value Drivers must also include accurate metrics for each of 3 Cost Centers expended by trade shows and events:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Opportunity Cost

To effectively measure and evaluate trade show and event investments, one needs to both consistently measure specific metrics as well as to assign a value to each of those data points. Most trade show programs get no further than measuring and calculating one or more “cost per”s- cost per lead, cost per meeting and so on. While an informed understanding of the costs associated with capturing each lead, hosting each client meeting, or hosting each product demonstration or presentation is certainly important, if your trade show measurement and analysis program stops there you are- intentionally or not- framing your efforts as an expense rather than an investment that provides demonstrable value.

If you’ve appropriately engaged internal stakeholders from Sales, PR/Advertising, Customer Service, and Operations in your Objective Setting process, you should have no problem developing agreed upon values for the attainment of these objectives. For example, a shared definition with Sales of what constitutes a “qualified lead” that is based on specific and measurable actions taken by attendees will allow you to establish a value for each lead captured. An analysis of the expenses averted by holding customer meetings in conjunction with your trade shows rather than visiting each of their locations- as well as a tally of the customer service value of those face-to-face meetings- establishes both cost avoidance as well as revenue retention measures.

VAQL

 

Comparing the value of targeted impressions achieved by your trade shows and events versus the cost of achieving those impressions via other advertising and marketing avenues provides powerful justification for your investments. If you’ve stopped at calculating “cost per”s without taking the next step of developing “value per”s, you’ve diminished your ability to compare the return from each show- all you can compare are the expenses.

Imagine This Scenario 

You’re out for coffee with one of the company's sales managers. You're working to create stakeholder buy-in and strategically aligned goals between departments. He’s a little overwhelmed when you begin to detail the steps and level of analysis that you intend to undertake. He asks if it is necessary and if you think you might be shaking things a up a bit too much.
You explain the shortcomings of framing your efforts as an expense. It's actually an investment, providing value to the entire company. You then ask him to define a ‘qualified lead’ for your company and if the division down the hall would define it the same way. He sighs, “I guess not…”
You go on to explain the sustained, residual effects that will be created. You mention ‘right-sized’ booth spaces, staffing levels, and promotional efforts. You mention better leads passed to sales more quickly. You mention less of his team forced to travel to ‘pointless’ trade shows for what has been perceived as little to no results.
He slowly nods with approval as it starts to sink in. You laugh and tell him, “Let’s hope the rest of the staff is as easy to convince as you!”

Imagine This Scenario 

You’re out for coffee with one of the company's sales managers. You're working to create stakeholder buy-in and strategically aligned goals between departments. He’s a little overwhelmed when you begin to detail the steps and level of analysis that you intend to undertake. He asks if it is necessary and if you think you might be shaking things a up a bit too much.
You explain the shortcomings of framing your efforts as an expense. It's actually an investment, providing value to the entire company. You then ask him to define a ‘qualified lead’ for your company and if the division down the hall would define it the same way. He sighs, “I guess not…”
You go on to explain the sustained, residual effects that will be created. You mention ‘right-sized’ booth spaces, staffing levels, and promotional efforts. You mention better leads passed to sales more quickly. You mention less of his team forced to travel to ‘pointless’ trade shows for what has been perceived as little to no results.
He slowly nods with approval as it starts to sink in. You laugh and tell him, “Let’s hope the rest of the staff is as easy to convince as you!”

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