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December 16, 2014

South East Europe: Trade Shows as a Marketing Tool—The Effectiveness of ROI

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Trade show participation is coming under increasing scrutiny; marketing budgets are shrinking and directors are requiring maximum ROI. Therefore, it is really important that in accordance with the trade show Pareto Principle, you choose the right trade show that will deliver your business objectives.

Borrowing from Dr. Elling Hamso, one of the greatest experts on measuring events and meetings ROI, a prerequisite for profitability is that “exhibitors have to do something at the lowest cost possible” in order to create and justify the added value of a trade show appearance. Often this is not the case, and exhibitors put all their faith in trade shows organizers, or they do not have any clear expectations on co-operation.

It then comes about that almost every year exhibitors ask me how we measure the return on their investments in collaboration with one of the trade shows that we organize. Normally, I would say that the measure of profitability begins with the selection of target groups - the more we are precise with this, the better the return on investment. Another element is clearly defined objectives, which we communicate very clearly with all of the stakeholders of our trade shows. Very broadly speaking, what you cannot measure, you cannot manage, so with targeted surveys among invited buyers and exhibitors we can regularly check the satisfaction of key stakeholders. Over the years, they have become a credible and valuable source of data for improving the quality of projects. The set of criteria we use does not change and it allows us to track trends over time.

So, despite the fact that there are clearly a number of methodologies and measurement techniques, it all begins with the method of evaluation and the stakeholder’s decision on which effects are most important to the organizers or the exhibitors. As a rule, they can be divided into three effect categories:

  1. Short-term selling, which is still the dominant criterion for the evaluation of ROI for participation in a B2B event.
  2. Development of a brand and customer loyalty is another criterion with strong long-term effects. It not until after several years of continuous implementation of a fair from the perspective of the organizers or participation from the perspective of exhibitors that concrete results can be brought about.
  3. Networking and influencing key stakeholders is also a long-term activity, which can greatly enhance the marketability of your brand.

Measuring effects is therefore not as straightforward as it might seem at first glance. On the participants’ side it all starts with clear goals and expectations. If there are no goals, everything may otherwise appear good, so the setting of goals is of primary importance, because only then can we measure what we have really achieved. On the trade show organizers’ side there is a striking difference between public and private sector organizers. The smaller the share of public funding of trade shows, the greater the concern for ROI. To measure the return of a trade show there are clear and precise financial indicators in place that show, despite the skeptics, that as a part of direct marketing trade shows and exhibitions are still one of the most effective tools, because we can clearly define the goals and measure them in the best way through, for example, the number of meetings or the number of acquired business opportunities.

Another important part of ensuring a high yield is also a general feeling of quality. For this it is important to provide a suitable environment for B2B communication. This includes subtle initiatives such as a convenient and pleasant booth to establish a personal relationship. At our trade show we create business opportunities and because of this we are very carefully choosing our suppliers. We therefore dedicate attention to this kind of detail. Quality control is carried out throughout the preparation of the project with face-to-face meetings with suppliers and through interviewing all stakeholders. After the project we carry out personal meetings with approximately 50% of all exhibitors. Meetings are designed primarily to improve the quality of the project.

Added value on the case of Conventa trade show:
FACT: Conventa measures profitability through exhibitor and invited guest surveys and onsite using the electronic system Geoffrey. The show was evaluated by 1,437 invited guests on average with a high grade of 4.27 and 753 exhibitors with a score of 4.42. 
RESULT: With the help of our ‘electronic butler’ we have proven from a statistically relevant sample that 62.87% of all hosted buyers marked it as excellent and good-5-4, which is 38.56% of concrete RFPs and very high potential.
IMPACT: According to the research that we prepare annually, co-operation at Conventa is an investment that exhibitors get back in the form of concrete business. In addition to this dimension we also generate ROI through brand recognition, which we find to be extremely well received in the market.

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About the Author: Kongres





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