First, set up a plan that includes all of the shows and events in which you must participate along with those that you feel your company should participate.  Use a spreadsheet to capture all the essential cost details pertaining to each show.  If you need help in this area, email us to receive a copy of the  Eye Power budget worksheet. 

Second, gather all the results you’ve measured from your past year shows to project expected results and prioritize the individual shows in your plan for the coming year.  Warning: you can only do this if you have set goals and measurable objectives for shows, and recorded the results as each show was completed.  You then have the means to justify your new budget.  It also allows you the flexibility to cut back plans without damaging the most powerful elements.  Bottom line: you have the confidence and ability to easily cope with uncertainties in budget direction. 

Let’s look at a simplified example to see how this process works.  Suppose that you set a goal of qualifying 150 sales-ready leads from a major national show.  Your actual lead count is 165.  For a second show you set a goal of 120 leads, and you gather 108 leads.  The results are shown in the table below.  Before you conclude that the first show deserves all your attention, you need to determine the ROI for both shows based on ultimate outcome of the leads. 

Table 1. Show Performance Based on Lead Goals

  Goals Actual Leads % Achieved
Show 1 150 165 110%
Show 2 120 108 90%

If the leads from the first show converted to sales at a rate of 15%, and the typical customer spent $6,000, then the show accounted for $148,000 in sales.  If the second show leads converted at a 20% rate and the group of customers spent an average of $15,000, then this show accounted for $324,000.  If you were using your 3 x6m exhibit and staff of four to work both shows and you spent about $12,000 on each event.  Your ROI for the first show is 12.4 to 1, and for the second is 27 to 1.  The second show attracted a significantly stronger decision-maker who bore a much better purchasing budget – this show should carry a higher priority in your show plan.

Table 2. Show Performance Based on ROI

  Show 1 Show 2
Leads 165 108
Close Rate 15% 20%
Sales 25 22
Avg. Purchase $6,000 $15,0000
Total Sales $148,500 $324,000
Show Costs $12,000 $12,000
ROI 12.4 to 1 27.0 to 1

You can apply this kind of information to all of your shows in your schedule for next year.  When it is done you will have a ranking system that will allow you to determine which shows are more valuable and where to cut if you are required to reduce your event budget.  This is how you can be sure that you are preserving the most power in your plan.  It is far superior to simply cutting xx% from every show’s budget.

In addition, you need to be prepared to discuss the importance of non-measurable goals to your company.  There are some reasons that you want to have presence at an event that cannot be precisely measured.

You can also use the ROI information to compare the benefits to your company of exhibiting at an event verses running that quarter-page ad in a popular trade magazine.  The better prepared you are for serious discussion, the better you can help your company make the most out of its marketing budget.  It all comes back to measurement.  So, how do you have a great year, next year?  Commit to  disciplined event measurement now.

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