Setting trade show objectives

Setting trade show objectives

Trade Show Objectives

“Well, because we go every year”. If that’s your answer to the question of why you’re attending a particular trade show, then it’s definitely time to re-evaluate your trade show objectives. Trade shows are expensive and consume a lot of time and energy, so it’s important to establish valid, meaningful and measurable objectives prior to committing to any events. Objectives help maintain focus during the entire design, implementation, participation and evaluation stages, and perhaps most importantly can improve your return on investment at a show.

There are three key types of objectives you can apply to your trade show marketing program: communications, quantifiable, and logistical goals. Look at each of these objectives, and see how many you’d like to apply to your own trade show strategy. With proper research these goals can be measured and/or evaluated, and can provide a target of success against which future trade show participation can be compared.

Communication Objectives – Awareness, Perception and Positioning

  • Establish or enhance company awareness, credentials and/or capabilities
  • Create, change or reinforce your company’s position
  • Affect general perceptions of your company, product and/or service
  • Promote a specific message such as “The Total Solution For All Your Widget Needs”
  • Distinguish your company from the competitors
  • Introduce a new product, service or capability
  • Enter a new market

Quantifiable Objectives – Measured By The Numbers

  • Total number of cool, warm and hot prospects
  • Identify and recruit new employees for the company
  • Total attendance compared to previous years
  • Establish qualified leads
  • Conduct market research such as industry trends and surveys to test perceptions
  • Generate revenue in sales
  • Identify new distributors, suppliers and representatives for your product or service
  • Increase sales with your existing customers
  • Identify and recruit new partners
  • Meet with key decision makers of your current clients

Logistical Objectives – What Happens On The Floor

  • Get press or publicity
  • Gather information about your competition
  • Opportunities to speak at a conference track
  • Demonstrate support for your industry
  • Attract attention from attendees who are unfamiliar with your company
  • Promote excitement and activity in the vicinity of your booth
  • Generate desirable traffic flows
  • Demonstrate equipment, products or specific solutions at your booth

How many items have you checked off? There are many reasons for participating in a trade show, but attending because it’s a habit or because there’s cool stuff on the exhibit floor are not smart trade show objectives. Developing a list of trade show objectives will help your company decide which shows to attend, and validate your decision whether to continue exhibiting at shows you’ve attended in the past. Objectives provide some much-needed direction during the entire trade show planning process, and when measured and analyzed can help determine your return on investment. So in case you’ve forgotten your reasons for exhibiting at a trade show, use the list above to re-focus and re-evaluate.