This series of short articles was written by Gustavo Baner based on research and information provided by Bernardo Szulanski's Quiken Company, specialists in trade show preparedness.and makers of the trade show planning software, Evex
"Experience is what you usually learn when things go wrong" the saying goes. Experience can be gained in this trial-error fashion at a huge economic cost.
Some people love trade shows and events because of the potential they envision, while others can get to hate them. It usually dependes on the outcome of the event.
The success or failure of an event can only be determined when there are metrics to analyze the consequences of an investment at a trade show. Measuring is key.
This article will attempt to present you with ideas about what to do and how to do it, in order to propel the success of your event. Some information will be the outcome of research, and some will be tips that will help you make your trade show experience more enjoyable.
Tip: Successful trade show participation is not determined by the hardware at the booth and requires planning, good execution, and analysis of results.
So lets imagine that your organization decided to exhibit at the ABC EXPO. So what is the first thing to do? Is it to order a stand, graphics, etc? Probably not at this stage. Planning goes first.
Understanding the dynamics of the trade shows and who the players are is probably the most valuable first step.
At a trade show, both the exhibitor and the visitor have a lot at stake. Both are invested in the event. One (the exhibitor) expects to recover the cost. The other party, the visitor, has invested in air fares, hotel and living expenses but it is mainly his/her time that play a big roll. It is key to plan your exhibit in a way that maximizes the value the other party takes away. During an event, it is the visitor that has to be attracted to a group of exhibitors and you hope that your company will be one of those selected by the visitor to engage in a long-term relationship.
The event organizer's job is not easy: They should choose the right venue, at the right time of the year, promote the event, get the press involved, and must provide accurate data generated during past events. Statistics that show who attends, for how long, which parts of the country do people come from, positions at their organizations, purchasing power of the visitors, etc are the ingredients that will help you cook your recipe for success.
The visitor has only one thing in his/her mind: Find what is new in the field for them, and how would that new thing improve the company's bottom line.
Tip: Your event will be successful as long as the visitors to your booth feel satisfied. The focus of the trade show is to find the best way to make the visitors and customers enthusiastic about your company. Nothing else matters
The exhibitor must understand the characteristics of the event, design what to do during and before the event in such a way that maximizes the exposure to the avid of curiosity visitors.
The visitor is investing his/her resources to be able to meet with you, the exhibitor, so don't dissapoint him/her.
What makes a trade show such a unique opportunity both for buyers and exhibitors? It is the quality of the audience. So as an exhibitor, you must assess this before your commitment, and since audience is a numbers game, the location on the floor of the venue make a big difference. Talk to the organizer to understand how the public moves.
As an exhibitor, you will only gain access to a fraction of the visitors. Buyers must have an interest into what you have to say, and must get to where your booth is. Those two factors will limit your exposure.
Example: if attendance to a certain event is expected to be 20,000 unique individuals, it is useless to have 20,000 catalogs ready at the show. It won't do you any good to have 20,000 promotional items that have been designed specifically for that event. You might get unused resources, leaving money on the table.
The same happens with staff, samples, etc.
In some events the booking of the space represents about 25% of the total expense incurred.
The Trade Show Handbook suggests that you should probably budget a total of $10,000 per trade show exhibit. This should cover all expenses of an average booth, with the following cost breakdown:
Tip: Many companies try to save in their marketing materials and in their promotional item selection. Marketing actions require small budgets when compared with the whole cost of setting up at a trade show. Marketing is key, so do not hurt yourself by choosing the wrong marketing materials.