To answer the “was it a good show?” question you must first know what you were trying to accomplish.
There is a great deal of information available on the web and in the bookstore on event planning. Almost all of these sources include checklists to help you with your planning efforts. Unfortunately, at least to my way of thinking, these checklists tend to focus on the exhibit itself (booth design and layout, signage, displays and demonstrations) and booth staffing. While these are certainly very critical aspects of a successful show, we really need to step back and strategize a bit before we dive into the show manual and fill out our forms. Put another way, we need to know where we are going before before the road signs are helpful.
All successful events start with an understanding about what you are trying to achieve. Setting goals that identify what you want to accomplish at the show along with the measures that you will use to determine if you were successful is the essential 1st step. Also, setting the goals and measures up front avoids the post-show arguments over “was the show a good one?”
Typical goals for exhibiting at a tradeshow include:
- Obtain new business, either in the form of leads to follow-up on a direct sales on the floor
- Extend relationships with our existing customers
- Increase brand awareness and understanding of our company and products
- Announce and/or demonstrate a new product
- Support our industry partnerships
- Establish/extend relationships with journalists, analysts and other industry influencials
- Court investors
- “Make a splash”
- Win an award
- Having an exhibit is required to gain a speaking slot on the conference program
- Recruit employees
- Internal team building (and have some fun)
Most companies will say that they do “a little of all of that” at every show. It’s fair to say that if you do a little bit of everything, nothing gets done well. It is possible to achieve all of these goals at a show, but each goal frequently requires different resources (people, money, space, etc.) and someone responsible for ensuring success.
Only you can define what “success” at a show is and answer the question “was it a good investment of our money, people and resources?” Having a prioritized list of goals and measures for success is the only way to start your show preparations. With the “big picture” in hand, planning your show participation becomes much easier and declaring the show a success is almost automatic.