How are you measuring your exhibition ROI?

Trade shows, exhibitions and events are critical for modern businesses. Sure, the internet gives us more scope than ever before to reach out and connect with people in our industries, but this still has not replaced the power of a face-to-face meeting at an event.
Of course, these events do require a degree of investment. As the old adage goes, you need to spend money to make money. However, you also need to be keeping track of your investment and measuring your returns.
Don’t go into an event blindly. Instead, define how you will be monitoring and measuring your rate of return ahead of time. This way, you have the best chance of really optimising your ROI.

Set Your Objective and Your Definition of Success

So, what do you want to achieve at your upcoming exhibition? In many ways, this is phase one of your planning procedure, as it gives you a basic idea of what your definition of success will be.
Perhaps you will try to target more than one objective. Maybe you will focus on a single aim. Either option is fine, just don’t spread yourself too thin and make sure that you have no more than one or two targets as your main objectives.

Raw sales

Of course, raw sales are the easiest target to keep track of, but not necessarily the easiest to achieve. If you have a product that is ready to deploy in the market, bring it along and show it off.
Perhaps other attendees will be so impressed with the product that they buy it onsite, or they decide to place an order for delivery. These are your raw sales figures.

More clients

Not every business model is suitable for a raw sales target. Others may prefer to aim for something more long term, such as bringing more clients on board – clients with highly lucrative lifetime values.
This requires careful networking and advertising if you are to make these all-important connections.

Strategic partnerships

Trade events are great places to meet and greet the important figures in your field. These individuals will have valuable insights, influence, or connections that can help you and your business get ahead. Networking with these people is an important skill as you will need to demonstrate your worth as a potential partner.
In the short term, this might seem like a risk as you will not be directly generating sales or revenue. However, this can seriously pay off in the long term.

Improved supplier deals

Securing growth for your business means bringing in more sales while also keeping costs low. With this in mind, relationships with suppliers are just as important as those with clients and customers.
Do your research in advance. If there are groups attending or exhibiting that are potential suppliers, make sure you take the time to introduce yourself and your organisation to them. A good deal on high-quality materials or components is always worthwhile.
Remember, you may have other objectives in mind for your exhibition. These are just a few of the most common. As long as you have your targets ironed out beforehand, you can begin to plan how you will pursue and monitor them.

Choose Your Most Critical Metrics

Let’s look towards phase two of measuring your exhibition ROI – the metrics themselves. There is a world of difference between having a target in mind and actually having a set of criteria you can use to analyse your return. Here, we are going to look at some of the most useful metrics depending on your aims.

The number of deals made

Whether you are looking for new clients or seeking to build new relationships with suppliers, both of these actions involve agreeing upon a deal. So, how many deals did you make throughout the day? This can be a useful way to assess how successful your day was. Divide the number of deals made by the total investment your business made in joining the exhibition to see how much each deal cost you.

The average size of the deal

Knowing how many deals you have made is useful, but understanding the average size of these deals provides you with even more insight about your selling technique. Divide the value of each deal by the number of deals made. This will give you the average size. You may find that you made lots of deals but they have not resulted in much revenue for your business. Or it could be that you made only a few deals, but these deals were highly lucrative.

Strategic meetings and insight gained

This metric is difficult to measure as it is largely qualitative rather than quantitative. However, if you know your business and your growth plan well, and you know the missing pieces you need for success, this metric can be very useful indeed.
For example, let’s say you work in automotive manufacturing, but you have targeted key opportunities in the aerospace sector. To make this move, you need industry knowledge that you currently do not have, and you need to make connections in this field. If this is your objective, holding a strategic meeting with the right person at a trade event could be more worthwhile than simply making a traditional sale.

Lifetime customer value

Lifetime customer value is another slightly difficult metric to measure and it requires that you have a solid understanding of your consumer profiles and their buying psychology. With this data, you can gain a pretty good picture of what your new customer or client’s behaviour will be in the future, and what kinds of products and services you can deliver to them to maximise this value.
Remember to make these estimates conservatively, as you are working with forecasts and predictions rather than hard facts. Get your calculations right and this becomes a very useful metric indeed.

Supply chain cost reduction

If you made a deal with a new supplier, how much money will it save your organisation over a set time period? This data can be as useful to your business as raw sales.

Cost per lead

You will have come across cost per lead before, perhaps in relation to advertising and other marketing efforts. Well, it also applies here.
How many leads did you acquire during the trade conference? How much did you spend in total? Divide the latter figure by the former to get your cost per lead.

Quality of leads

Another qualitative metric – and one that is difficult but not impossible to measure – is lead quality. Are the leads you have gathered cool, warm, or hot when it comes to interest in your products and services? Is their demographic likely to convert? These are all things you can factor into your measurements.

Tips for Measuring and Boosting ROI

Now that you have your aims and objectives, and your metrics, decided upon ahead of time, you can target ways to maximise the return you achieve on your investment.
Take a look at the following tips to get the best out of your event.

Get the right tools in place for measuring ROI

There are different apps and tools you can use to measure your ROI, including the following;
• Attendance tracking apps can help you target different segments of your audience at future events and gain a pretty good picture of how successful each event will be in terms of marketing opportunities.
• Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms will help you forecast the lifetime value of clients, and they will also help you track customers on their way through the sales funnel.
• Analytics software will show you who has been accessing your website and from where. It could be that you are generating online sales directly from your exhibition.

Make sure that measurement is ongoing

Remember that situations change. The deals you make may become more or less lucrative. New supply lines may be better or worse than you thought. Customers may behave in unexpected ways. All of this means you need to continue measuring your ROI even after the event is complete.

Assess your performance and aim to improve next time around

Be critical of your performance at the event. What did you do right? What could you do better? Be honest and then target growth and improvement for next time. As with many things in business, you should be on a continual path of growth and improvement.

Follow up with those you interacted with

To augment the return you have already received on your investment or to gain a different perspective on your performance at the event, reach out to the people you interacted with. This is also a great way to nurture relationships and to maximise the value of the transactions and partnerships you have achieved.
Planning ahead is so important. Make sure you have a winning strategy in place and target the very best returns possible on your investment. Remember, if you’re not measuring these returns, you don’t know whether you are winning big or losing out.

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