You just wrapped a successful trade show event. You are back in your office. All your leads have been distributed to the sales team. You are reconciling final invoices against your budget. But before you’ve had a chance to gather feedback from your sales partners about any opportunities generated from the leads, you are called into a planning session for the next event on your marketing calendar.
Does this sound familiar? For many of us, we go from one priority initiative straight into another high profile project. And then next time we have any time to think about the just completed event is when we start the planning process for the next year’s show. Which usually means a minimum of six or nine months has passed.
The good news for those of us with a good marketing platform with integrated sales CRM is that we have a record of the leads that were generated and what happened with those leads such as opportunities created and business that was won. You likely have a trade show strategy, but it’s time to take things a step further.
What’s missing is the more qualitative feedback about what worked and where things did not go quite according to plan. So as we sit down to complete a creative brief for the upcoming show, we have to rely on our memory and that of our colleagues, if we are lucky enough to have the same co-workers on the project.
A better approach is to conduct a formal “Stop, Start, and Continue” exercise within a week or two post-show. You want the session to be held close enough to the event that memories are still fresh but with enough time passed that your post-show activities have been initiated.
The exercise, as the name suggests, is a guided way to think about what activities worked really well – these are the ones we want to Continue. Now that we’ve had a chance to reflect, are there things we should have done but didn’t – these are the ones we want to Start. And of course, there are things that just didn’t work out as planned – these are the ones we want to Stop.
You can do this as a solo exercise but it is even more effective if you ask representatives from all the different departments that were involved in the trade show planning and execution of the show to participate. Have your team complete the worksheet independently and then bring the group together to discuss everyone’s perspective. Compile all the feedback into one document and share across the team.
As you sit down to start planning your presence at the show next year, review this document before you do anything else. It will not only help you enter the process with a fresh perspective but also find yourself armed with knowledge from your experience.
Ready to continue the planning process? We recommend creating a timeline. Here are 4 reasons your trade show needs a timeline.
You’ve made the decision to attend a trade show and you’ve
You’ve decided that investing in face-to-face marketing will achieve your brand
Recently, over 100 individuals from our industry gathered to speak to our representatives on Capitol Hill during Exhibitions Day. The annual fly-in is led by the International Association of Exhibits and Events (IAEE), and 2017 was the fourth installment, with attendance growing each year. While there are no exhibits, it is the epitome of the time-limited face-to-face marketing influence that is central to our industry.
When you are relatively new to a pre-existing events team or program, it can be overwhelming to get a handle on all the different number of trade shows, show acronyms, venues, assets, internal and external partners, products, brands and sales professionals. Taking a “program approach” and organizing your shows and assets into tiers can help you stay focused, concentrate on your objectives, control spending and will probably help your peace of mind.
So, you want to take your domestic trade show to an international audience. Or perhaps you’re already participating in international trade shows but you want to expand your program to additional cities. Regardless of the stage of your particular program, there is great value in understanding how trade shows operate internationally because it can be very different than in the United States.