Are you data-driven when it comes to analysing your trade show results?
Does data drive the decisions you make about your event programme?
Of course you are, and of course, you base your event participation decisions on data. Or do you?
For many exhibitors, the decision to rebook or not for a show comes down to the number of leads collected.
That’s not a wrong measure. In many ways, it’s the common-sense decision. If a show hasn’t delivered on leads in the way that you expected or were lead to believe it should then depart from it.
And I know of many exhibitors who give the offending event the benefit of the doubt first before they leave.
They ask “was it us?” especially if they know the event was busy and other exhibitors around them appeared to be having a successful event.
On the other hand, many exhibitors know that event participation is the right thing to be doing; but they can’t speak with authority on why that should be the case.
Hopefully, the following will be helpful to both groups.
Back to basics
If your company takes part in multiple events each year, producing a league table based on performance can prove very worthwhile.
Evaluate your top line results. Things like enquiries collected or sales made directly and post-event.
Add any other measures that you think should be evaluated, but only if you can do so on a like for like basis.
To obtain an exact effectiveness level, you then need to compare the costs of each event.
Space costs, build, and staff costs can all be factored to provide a price per square metre for each event.
When you do this exercise, be sure to analyse your costs based on the number of open days for each exhibition as these may vary.
Once the analysis is complete, you can then list your events in order of best results obtained.
You might be surprised by what you discover.
Armed with this information, you may decide to increase stand space or staff numbers at events at the top of the table and reduce commitments to those that perform less effectively.
You may also decide to drop events that don’t meet the performance criteria that you set.
How much do leads and sales made at trade shows cost in comparison to other forms of marketing?
Know your event costs, and you’ll know how much money is needed to produce a lead at an exhibition.
You can compare the cost of lead generation between different events and see which perform best and worst.
However, you can also analyse event lead generation costs against the costs of the broader marketing undertaken by your business.
Now you can rank your best and worst lead generation sources.
But, and it’s a big one, leads are great, but sales are better to quote my own well-used motto.
For you to be supremely confident about the role of exhibitions in your marketing, you need to know something else.
The typical value of a trade show order compared with orders generated by other marketing channels.
Are all your order values equal?
Only the data-driven manager can answer this. And it’s an important question to answer.
Do trade show orders have a higher or lower value than those that you generate elsewhere? Are they about the same? How do they stack-up when it comes to lifetime value?
Of course, to answer those questions, you need to know how the orders you generate through other channels compare.
The comparisons to look for can include average order value; the length of time an order takes to complete and most important of all, the lifetime value.
If you know the typical lifetime value of orders within your business, you can be braver when it comes to evaluating the results of your event marketing.
Just as you can work out the cost of a trade show lead by adding up all of your event costs and dividing the total by the number of leads collected, you can do the same with orders.
For this to work, you must have all costs allocated to the right place for each channel.
With the data, you can then rank how each compares not just by order value but by lifetime value. That’s the more important measure when it comes to the future success and sustainability of a business.
When evaluated in these terms, the real cost per order for each channel can be ranked.
It’s often a surprising and sobering exercise.
But it’s also one that will give you so much more confidence when you come to making decisions about where marketing funds should go.
Strategy questions answered by your data
Numbers tell a story. But they aren’t always the whole story.
Another area to consider is which channels are best for advancing your strategy for winning orders with specific companies or target market groups?
In this exercise, you need to look at the quality of leads that are produced by the various routes to market that you employ.
The higher in quality, i.e. the higher-up your first contact is within a prospective business is, the faster you usually get to a purchasing decision.
One of the biggest strengths of trade shows is their ability to shorten the sales process line.
That’s because the people attending events are usually in “hunt mode.”
They are hunting for new ideas and suppliers. Many have short-term supply problems that they need to solve. That’s why they go to the trouble of attending.
If you haven’t done this type of analysis before, don’t feel overwhelmed and feel it’s too big a job.
Take your time and work systematically through your marketing and trade show numbers, and steadily, you’ll become a data-driven exhibiting professional.
For more on data and events read this post.