March 15,  2006
Volume II   Issue 5

Trade Shows
by Jack Miller

In a couple of weeks I’ll be going to a trade show. I’m going as a visitor, to
see the exhibits and meet with potential clients,  but it reminds me of some
of my early experiences as a Marketing Director. I wanted to understand our
marketing mix, what we did and why, what worked and what didn’t.  We
were exhibiting at a trade show, so I talked to some of our team who were in
charge of our booth.

I asked  one of the team, “How’s it going?”

“Great,” he said. “We’ve given away six boxes of stuff.”

Now this was expensive “stuff”, paper swatch books and elaborate printed
samples. And a lot of it was being collected by our competitors. There had to
be a better way to measure trade show effectiveness.

Later, a consultant told us that something approaching 90% of all materials
collected by trade show visitors never get past the hotel room. That
confirmed it.

Next, I asked “Why?” My favorite question. Why did we do this trade show?
Why did we do trade shows at all? I asked this question over and over, and
generally there were three answers.

“All our competitors do it. We’ll stand out by our absence. We’ll look bad if
we’re not there.” Really?  Do people really go to trade shows and notice
who’s not there? They barely notice most of the exhibitors who
are there!
I wasn’t buying this one.

“For exposure. We need to be better known.” This seemed to make sense,
but how much did the trade show booth cost? What about the cost of travel
for all the employees who worked the booth, costs that might be hidden in
individual expense accounts and never attributed to the trade show? And
what about the value of the time of the people? Was the real cost $50,000?
$100,000? More? Could this “exposure” be better gained another way?
Have you surveyed trade show attendees to measure awareness and recall?
Do they remember your booth as they leave the show? A week later? A
month later? What do they remember about it?

“To get leads.” This is a good reason to do a trade show. If you need leads. If
you get good leads. If you follow up on them. Three big “ifs”. Take a hard
look.  Do your sales people already have more leads than they’re following
up on? How are leads qualified?  Do you have a process or just dump them
on the sales force and hope for the best? Do you have a process to track
follow up and results?  

I asked  “why?” one more time: why did people attend the trade show we
were exhibiting at. If they were looking for equipment, did they care about
paper? Were we meeting the needs of the trade show visitors? Were we
gaining exposure with the right audience?

If you’re doing trade shows you might need to measure the effectiveness of
what you’re doing. If haven’t asked these questions, maybe you should, and
Market-Intell can help.  Call Jack Miller at 203 925 0326, or email Jack Miller

About Jack Miller                                       Email Jack Miller

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