One of the most controversial aspect of participating in a trade fair is the measurement of the results obtained by the exhibitor.
Many marketing and communication executives ask themselves what is the return of the trade fair investment.
This is a critical question and bring valuable information that allow us to:
– Evaluate the achievement of the fixed objectives
– Determine the return on the trade fair
– Justify whether to continue the participation in future
The most employed measurement technique has a short term dimension. It takes into account the number of contacts established and the requests or sales generated during the trade fair or the few weeks after.
However, when there are few contacts made or little sales generated, this does not necessary indicate that the show is not suitable or has little return. It is possible that before the participation, the company has a deficit, an inefficient preparation and personnel performance at the stand, an unattractive stand or simply that the competition is performing better. On the other hand, if there are many visitors to the stand, it does not necessarily means that the show is a success. Foresee the "value" of these visitors and see if they are simply browsing or if they are qualified professionals.
Thus, it exists a series of controllable factors by the exhibitor that can influence the results of the participation and that they must be as measurable as possible, studied and evaluated by the responsible of the trade fair program.
Under a short term planning, you can obtain the following information:
Cost for qualified contact = Cost of trade show participation/ No. of qualified contacted obtained
Cost of sales realised = Cost of trade show participation / No. of sales made
Return (ROI) = Volume of sales made / Cost of trade show participation
The method to take into account all the contacts and sales made in the stand can be validated by products characterised by a short sales cycle, like e.g. consumer goods. In many trade shows that specialised in this type of products, the objectives for participation are very short term.
To be able to measure the result of participation is to previously prepare the information that will be recollected and in the long term in the participation program, is to say, before, during and after the show.
What to do?
1. Know the potential of the audience
2. Focus on the objectives of the participation
3. Identify and qualify the visitors of the stand
4. Register the information obtained in the contact forms
5. Develop an exhaustive follow-up of the contacts and businesses initiated in the stand
6. Know the sale cycle of the products and evaluate the exercised influence in the trade show or on the trade show itself.
Lastly, how to measure the participatio results when there are complex products and sophisticated industrial equipment characterised by a relatively long sales cycle? Well, the exhibitors that present this type of products are used to close very few sales during the trade show and concentrate mainly in obtaining new contacts, maintain and build loyalty with current clients, with the purpose to consolidate and accelerate the future sales process.
Contributed by: Fernando Le Monnier, our trade fairs and exhibition expert, General Director of Gag Events
and President of APMF (Marketing Trade Show Professional Association)