TANGIBLE TOOLS TO SELECT YOUR NEXT TRADE SHOW FOR YOUR EVENT BASED MARKETING
Most exhibitors are loyal to their favorite trade shows and expos. But if you start to see diminishing returns on your exhibit dollar, or if you’re attempting to expand into a new market, it may be time to broaden your horizon.
START WITH YOUR POTENTIAL BUYERS LIST
Approximately 40-60% of trade show attendees come from a 200-mile radius of the host city. Take a look at your largest potential buyers and determine, given this data, which shows they are most likely to attend. While big, national or international shows may be your “bread and butter,” over half of exhibitors say they experience most of their success reaching target audiences at smaller, more regional trade shows.
SAMPLE SURVEY QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CUSTOMERS AND PROSPECTS
1. Are you interested in seeing our products and solutions?
2. Do you know about our company and our offerings?
3. Who are involved in your buying process? Get their titles and their names. This will help you design trigger specific message for your marketing.
4. How long is the buying process?
5. Use social listening to customize your survey
In order for your data to be meaningful, the quality and the quantity of your sample size is very important. General rule of thumb: "aim for several hundred replies when fielding email polls, and 25 in-depth interviews if you are conducting focus groups."
NOTE: If a high percentage of respondents do plan to attend the show in question, but a low percentage of them are interested in your product category, that needs to factor highly into your decisions on whether or not the show is a viable option. "Bottom line, just because your target audience is there doesn't mean your offerings are on their shopping list."
SURVEY THE PEOPLE ON THE FOREFRONT OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT — SALES, MARKETING & THE C-SUITES
The C-suites should be able to lay out a plan as to where they see their company in 5 years. Get a perception of the marketplace from them and then, do an independent study on the demand for your product or services. If you have a suite of products, and you want to raise the performance level of a certain product, you want to exhibit at shows, specifically suited to the target audience for that item.
The C-suites might want to better position your company as a thought leader in your industry, requiring consideration of shows with speaking opportunities.
The C-suites might want to increase brand visibility in general; then an exhibit manager might consider exhibiting at a large number of shows with small booths.
The C-suites might want to take on a particular competitor. Then, it is appropriate to look for shows where competitors exhibit, and go in big with a large booth space and sizable sponsorships. Or, not to exhibit at all, but find a way to lure the audience for a special treat in a near by hotel.
"Gathering intelligence on your industry sector might also uncover that attendees are increasingly being lured to private events or regional shows rather than large national expos. This could cause an exhibit manager to question the percentage of resources allocated to national or international events. Or it may unearth new regional shows, a dip in market share for a given product, or financial struggles within a particular segment – any of which could influence decisions regarding where and how to allocate your investment."
CREATE A MASTER LIST OF POSSIBLE SHOWS
ENTER THE FOLLOWING TYPES OF SHOWS INTO YOUR SPREAD SHEET
1. All the shows that your company has exhibited in the past
2. Any shows mentioned by your clients or prospects
3. Shows identified during your research or background analysis
4. Any shows listed on your competitors' website
5. Shows on searchable exhibition databases.
This spreadsheet should include spaces where you can add information collected during your research, such as growth or decline of a given show, whether prospective clients say they plan to attend, and whether or not competitors have historically exhibited there.
Before You Lock In AN Event, INTERVIEW THE SHOW ORGANIZER
Contact the event organizer/show management to obtain as much information about the event as possible. Remember to ask for past exhibitor and visitor lists!!
Speak to past exhibitors and attendees. Exhibitors and attendees can provide a different slant on the information provided to you by the event organizers. They may also provide insight about how to approach your marketing for that particular event.
Attend the show. If you have a year up your sleeve, this is probably the best method in determining whether a show/event is right for you and your company. It is also a great way to get inside information about how to appropriately target your displays and promotional material for the event. And finally, it gives you the opportunity to see what your competitors are doing so you can present yourself in a way that will distinguish your company from them.
SAMPLE QUESTIONS TO ASK the show organizer
1. What is the show's total attendance and net attendance?
2. What is the total net square footage of the show floor?
3. What is the cost per square foot of the booth space?
4. How many companies are exhibiting?
5. Ask organizers for a copy of the last show program and exhibit directory. Inside will be a wealth of info about who the 10 largest exhibitors are and what products they sell, whether your competitors are exhibiting and at what level, and what size exhibit would likely be needed to create an impact.
6. What days and time is the exhibit hall open?
7. What kind of speaking opportunities or sponsorships available for exhibitors?
If you or the organizer has already surveyed attendees to determine demographics, buying plans, and/or interest in your category of products or services, you're a step ahead of the game. "If show management does not have such information available, make a guesstimate based on what percent of the exhibiting companies are there targeting the same individuals with similar products, and figure your audience is about that same portion of overall attendance."
For example, if there are 500 exhibitors at the show, and 50 of them are selling products similar to yours, it's a relatively safe bet to assume that roughly 10 percent of attendees are interested in your offerings and likely to represent your target market.
KPI (KEY PERFORMANCE INDEX) TO CONSIDER FOR ANALYZING EACH EVENT
EVALUATE EACH EVENT BASED ON THE DATA YOU HAVE GATHERED AND THE GOALS YOU HAVE SET OUT TO ACCOMPLISH
How to Calculate Traffic Density?
Traffic density simply means how busy is the show floor.
To calculate, you will need to know
1. NET ATTENDANCE
2. AVERAGE NUMBER OF HOURS ATTENDEES SPEND VISITING EXHIBIT. If you do not know, go with 9 hours.
3. TOTAL NET SQUARE FEET OF EXHIBIT SPACE and
4. TOTAL NUMBER OF HOURS THE EXHIBIT HALL IS OPEN.
50,000 Net Attendance x 9 Average Hours Spent Visiting Exhibits.
= 450,000 x 100 = 45,000,000
700,000 Net Square Footage x 24 Total Show Floor Hours = 16,800,000
45,000,000 (total from step 1) / 16,800,000 (total from step 2) = 2.67 Traffic Density
According to research by Exhibit Surveys, the average traffic density at U.S. shows is 2.6, and densities much lower than that might indicate a show floor with less traffic than exhibitors would consider acceptable. On the other hand, densities higher than 5 or 6 are generally a sign of number padding. Even, International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is the king of U.S. trade shows (and is audited) only has a traffic density of 3.5. If a calculation for a show results in a density much higher than the U.S. average, "the attendance numbers provided are likely inflated, and you should weigh any additional calculations using that attendance figure skeptically."
How to Calculate Potential Audience?
To calculate, you will need to know
1. EVENT'S NET ATTENDANCE
2. THE PERCENTAGE OF ATTENDEES WHO MEETS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE PROFILE
3. THE PERCENTAGE OF ATTENDEES WHO ARE INTERESTED IN YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE CATEGORY
50,000 Net Attendance x 30% Meets Target Profile
NOTE: If show management does not information regarding target profile available, make a guesstimate based on what percentage of the exhibiting companies are there targeting the same individuals with similar products as yours, and figure your audience is about that same portion of overall attendance.
For example, if there are 500 exhibitors at the show, and 50 of them are selling products similar to yours, it's a safe bet to assume that roughly 10 percent of attendees are interested in your offerings and likely to represent your target market.
15,000 X 50% Interested in Your Product / Service Category
= 7500 Size of Your Potential Audience
If you have multiple type products that fall under the main type of goods and services that a particular show is known for, you can bet 50% of the attendees are interested in your product category. However, if your products or services are ancillary to the shows main draw, the the number is closer to 15 - 30%
21 CRITERIA WORTH CONSIDERING BEFORE EXHIBITING AT TRADE SHOWS
1. Audience Profile
2. Large numbers of visitors or smaller targeted audience
3. Decision Makers or Decision Influencers
4. Local, National or International Market or all three
5. Key industry segment
6. Is it in a key geographical location?
7. Cost of exhibiting
8. Number of booth staff needed at an event
9. The content and the quality of the industry association websites your business or your clients businesses fall into. Contact the associations directly for recommendations.
10. The look and feel of the conference website that you want to attend. The knowledge depth and the perennial nature of the conference website is the prime indication if it is worth it for you to attend. "There are some conferences and trade shows that are must-attends because they’re consistently successful: CES, SXSW, RSAConference, InfoComm etc. These types of events are gimmes, in that you know there will be the promotion in place on the their end to draw the speakers and media outlets you want to see at these things."
11. Ask your current and prospective clients what events they attend.
12. Find out what events your competitors are going to (look for event calendars on their websites).
13. Talk to your employees about shows they think the company should be involved in either from past experience or information they have gleaned from your client base.
14. Venues often have event calendars of upcoming events. Visit your local convention center or a convention center in a particular city you wish to exhibit in.
15. Potential Return on Investment (i.e. if your costs will be higher due to a distant location you will need greater leads to maintain the same ROI as a local event)
16. How well an event is marketed by the organizer. Check out what they did via social media during the last conference – did they use their networks to add to the conversation, as well as increase the exposure of the event, speakers and attendees? Take a look at their Instagram and Facebook photos – do they hire professional photographers and videographers to capture the event in action? If the conference’s social media is on point, it means that they’re invested in getting the most out of the event (which means that you’ll have a greater chance of achieving ROI out of it).
17. How an event is viewed by your staff, clients and competitors
18. Reddit tends to be a hub for marketing, meaning that if a conference is being mentioned on Reddit, it’s probably worth your time to show up, as at the very least there will be a built-in PR stream for you to take advantage of. Make sure you write down the usernames and subreddits that discuss the trade show you’re researching. That way you are in the know.
19. Big name speakers draw big name media outlets, which can translate to big-time ROI. "The more impressive the lineup of speakers, the more likely it is that high quality attendees will show up as well – and these are people you may be able to convert into clients or customers. "
20 Past media coverage – "Did high profile media outlets flock to the event last year, and the year before that? If so, there’s a good chance the media will be in attendance this year – and if you play your cards right, you might even land yourself a few interviews."
21. If you are a venture capital funded start u, dig into their services to do your research. Some value-add VC firms offer their portfolio companies support services like recruiting, marketing strategy, sales development, market research and more. You may also hear the term ‘platform’ to describe a firm’s value-added services.
WHAT MAKES US EXPERTS?
Source: skyline.com, exhibitorlive.com, contentfactory.com, linkedin.com
Skyline Trade Show Selector Tool is a great resource to help you uncover new opportunities and events for your exhibits.