Are Events Worth the Effort? Take a Look At These 3 Areas.

Do trade shows, seminars, and conferences evoke feelings of hate and uncertainty in your organization? They can be a lot of work – creating booth graphics, crafting a speaker’s presentation, attending and manning the booth, but are events worth the cost and the effort?

If our company isn’t there, people will wonder.

I often hear from sales and marketing departments that they feel obliged to participate because the competition will be there, people will wonder about the company’s stability if there’s no presence, and the market needs to be reminded of the brand’s leaderships. What I explain is that these are hunches that offer no empirical evidence.

Event success can be measured. You need to look at three areas:

  1. Organizer effectiveness
  2. Advertising effectiveness
  3. Conversion effectiveness.

Here’s how you measure them.

List quality

Many shows will provide you with information about the volume and type of attendees the event attracts. What you need to assess is, does this show provide access to the right kind of leads?

Get the numbers on how many people attend the show year over year. Are numbers going up or down? Decreasing attendance could signal that the market does not see value in attending.

Request the relevant demographics to assess targeting. There may be many attendees, but do they have the right title? How big is their company? Where are they located? The event organizers should be able to provide you with this information and more.

Pre and post-show communications

Check with show organizers to see if they will give you a list of registrants, ideally with contact details, demographics information and email address. Some event organizers will provide you with the list; some will grant access to their list via the purchase of advertising packages. Organizer-managed packages include email, social media and online advertising opportunities where you can promote your benefits and booth number.

While access is great, make sure the organizer provides metrics regarding reach versus response. Also, verify how often the prospects can be contacted pre and post show.

Booth effectiveness

Many businesses don’t think to track booth traffic, but it’s critical in estimating show opportunities. Booth traffic is the number of people who set foot in your booth, whether your staff engaged with them, or not. Your team can count booth traffic with a simple clicker. It’s very unintrusive. For a small booth, the process is easy, for a large booth, consider foot traffic flow.

Collecting lead information

Modern ways to collect lead information include badge scanners and computer kiosks. Old methods such as collect business cards work as well. No matter your preference, also track the leads collected by each booth workers. Whether it’s by assigning scanners by shift, entering rep info in kiosks as a promo code, or writing rep’s name on the back of a business card, you’ll also need to evaluate if you have the right staff at the show.

You can even gamify collection and have a competition to see who collects the most leads. Make sure to collect product interest or primary business issue and enter the leads into Salesforce as soon as possible. Set up automation that automatically creates a campaign task for the assigned rep to follow-up on the attendee a week after the show, so that no lead slips through the cracks.

Sales qualification

Track the number of opened and closed won opportunities in Salesforce against the event campaign. You can also calculate average sales cycle in days and average deal size to assess the quality of the leads collected.

Here are the key ratios you want to calculate for each show:

  1. Booth attendance / total show traffic. If low this number is low, then work on pre-show advertising.
  2. Leads / Booth attendance. If this percentage is low, work on elevator statements used at the booth and staff presentation.
  3. Follow-up calls made / Follow-up calls assigned.  Make sure no leads fall through the cracks and that reps are doing their part.
  4. Total Opportunities / Leads and Closed Won / Total Opportunities. During the sales cycle, collect information on deals that were lost to help with positioning and competitive comparisons. If these ratios are low, reps may need coaching around cold calling and overcoming objections.
  5. Cost / Revenue ROI –  Can calculate ROI per staff member to see if your booth is overstaffed/understaffed, and by customer to compare to other lead sources.

Based on these ratios, for the subsequent show, once you have your booth attendance, you’ll have the basis for reliable event projections. While gut instincts are ideal for survival in the wild, numbers are needed for survival in the corporate world.