Creating a report after a trade show is probably the last thing you want to do following any length of time exhibiting. However, these reports are important for several reasons. They help:
- Prove to management that your program is generating ROI.
- Help divert attention away from your program when it’s time for budget cuts.
- Promote how you’re benefitting the bottom line.
These reports also provide invaluable insight for you and enable you to:
- Evaluate the show’s strategy, objectives, and performance.
- Review accomplishments.
- Assess all issues and problems that occurred.
- Suggest improvements for the next show and, perhaps, the overall trade show program.
You may be dreading compiling this report, which is understandable – nobody is saying this is a trip to Disneyland. There are some sections you can expect to prepare, and knowing this will help you gather your information and mentally plan the report.
No matter how much effort you put into this report, this summary may be the only part that many people read. That means this section is incredibly important. It needs to contain a wrap-up of all pertinent information and indicate how the event was a success or what steps are necessary to ensure improvement for future events.
The abstract should include:
- What were your strategic goals and objectives for the show?
- What worked and what didn’t?
- What did you achieve in relation to these goals, such as overall leads, quality of those leads, visitors exposed to your products, press coverage, number of branding impressions, etc.?
- What was the most/least valuable aspect of the show?
- How effective was your exhibit?
- Did you have any additional activities or promotions?
- Did you stay within your budget?
- What are your future ambitions and recommendations?
This next section should include a detailed look at your goals and objectives, specifically how your exhibit and events were positioned to achieve your purpose. You should then review the success of your efforts, and how you achieved your goals or how you can modify your attempts to make them successful.
How did your exhibit contribute to your show’s ROI? Do you believe your exhibit played effectively to your intended crowd? Did it attract attendees? Were interested parties able to engage with your displays/products as intended? Describe how you and others were able to engage with your display and include photos, especially of any pertinent areas of complaint or damage that occurred.
Be sure to focus on these areas:
Also review all ancillary events that took place. You’ll want to include
- All promotional programs and sponsorships
- Hospitality events
- Customer dinners
- Partner co-sponsored events
- Training for customers and dealers
- Sponsored conference sessions
- Conference seminar participation, both by employees and clients
Finally, take a look at your booth staff. How was their effectiveness? Were there moments when someone was milling around looking for something to do? Did staff ask you a bunch of silly questions or did they seem prepared? Was there adequate help during setup and teardown? When evaluating staff performance, be sure to include:
- Top performing members by name.
- Areas of low productivity.
- Tardiness and absences.
- Incidents with customers, both positive and negative.
This may be the easiest section to write, since you’ve likely been tracking leads throughout the event (and, if you haven’t, you’re making your job much harder than it needs to be).
Organize the leads in the manner that makes the most sense for your company’s goals (i.e., Interest in your product, Time frame to buy, Budget; Hot, Warm, Cold; Individual buyer, Distributor, Past client; etc.) Again, this was likely done during the show as staff members concluded their interactions with prospects. Also, include the follow-up plan, including whose job it is to reach out and whose job it is to ensure that takes place.
You can also include your cost per lead by dividing the expenses related to your trade show participation by the number of qualified leads you collected.
If generating media exposure was a goal, be sure to include how many media members visited the booth or scheduled an interview with someone from your company.
A good way to qualify value of this exposure is to compare it to an ad of comparable size. For example, if the magazine published a full-page story, what would a full-page ad cost? You could even argue that the full-page article is worth more than the ad, since the public tends to view articles as being more credible than advertising.
Compare, one-to-one, your estimated budget to the final expenditure for the exhibition. Be sure to highlight everything you and your team did to save money and cut costs. If there were areas with overages, explain what happened and how this can be avoided for future events.
This final section is here to compare this show with your overall exhibition strategy. How did this show relate to shows in the past? What will it mean to the future of your marketing and trade show program?
This report will provide invaluable insights for you and your company. There are also several sections that will be of use to your exhibit management company. Reach out to the The Trade Group at 800-343-2005, so we can share our visions on how to get the best value out of your next show – and each show thereafter.