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Short Changing Your Trade Show ROI by NOT Planning

Apr 13, 2008
It seems to be a fact of life - we are poor planners.

And it is surprising, especially when we talk about planning for various marketing activities which have high price tags.

Trade shows have proven to be an effective tool for marketing.

Still, there are far too many exhibitors who rush into the activity, throw money at it, and then leave wondering where their money went?

What was all that fuss and expense for?

Why is this happening?

Is it because companies don't know how to plan for the best way to spend marketing dollars? Are they too caught up in negotiating the ups and downs of other marketing activities?

Is it the culture of the organization to always be rushing about and entering into all and sundry activities?

"Exhibitors know how to plan ,but they are so overloaded with their many projects; they just do not take the time to plan. It is sad to see, but it is what it is." Bob Dallmeyer, RD International

One thing is for sure. Poor planning can be costly in time, human effort and most importantly dollars.

Cynthia Stine, President of Promote Success PR, say that some of her clients are use to "casting a net at a trade show and coming home with some fish. But if they were to do planning the catch could be twice, maybe triple the amount!"

Dedicated time and proper planning must to be devoted to trade show activities for maximum success. Cynthia urges companies to spend at least two months planning before a show and several weeks after a show to get the maximum benefit from it.

The planning process is part of the marketing function and is comprised of multiple tasks and responsibilities leading up to the event. This include planning your booth space, graphics, booth personnel, communications, media exposure, white papers, lead criteria sheets, and on and on. You've got to rehearse.

This kind of investment of time, human recourse, and material means that last minute planning for trade shows has to stop!

So how does one go about that within their organization? Take the first step and start holding meetings about the upcoming trade show effort. Make sure these meetings are power packed with information and then action items, so that the entire team is well versed in what will take place at the show.

* Step 1 - go over the last trade show facts and figures to assess what was great about it, as well as where there were areas that could use improvement?

* Step 2 - outline what will take place at this show and how it can be different from the last experience. What are the major reasons for this show? Do you have all parties involved in the planning process?

* Step 3 - assign team members various tasks concerning the show activity. One might be responsible for the booth design, graphics, etc. while another for the communications strategy involving customers and prospects. For each aspect of the show tasks, a person should be assigned to that task and held accountable.

* Step 4 - map out all the tasks and personnel responsible, so that the entire team can see where they fit into the whole. Apply peer pressure for the team to fulfill their roles.

It is vital that the sales team be involved in the planning process. Upfront team member involvement means a greater likelihood that appropriate action will be taken when post-show leads are turned over after the show. They should have input on what information is captured on the lead forms - then they know they have the correct information to act on all the leads captured at the show.

There is a saying I use to remind myself: ONE hour of planning saves THREE hours of execution.

I don't know about you, but I can use all those saved hours for more productive endeavors.
About the Author
Joyce McKee is a 25 year veteran of the trade show and event world. Her new site provides resources for companies to get the maximum benefit from events and trade shows. To keep up with all the latest trends check out http://www.letstalktradeshows.com
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