If you’re a seasoned event specialist, then you know full-well the great value you get from a succession of face to face meetings with decision makers at an expo, in the right environment, with the right audience and in the right spot for great footfall.
However, if your budget holder has yet to greenlight the sizeable cost of exhibiting at an event, you’re going to have to take all that emotive, people-centric knowledge about the power of being the room, into tangible, hard facts and figures with irrefutable bottom-line proof that will convince the toughest of number crunching naysayers!
First of all, be really clear about what you want to achieve from attending and/or exhibiting at an expo. Assess your objectives for attending an expo, they should link to your marketing plan, which in turn, should link to your company plan and objectives.
What do you want to get out of it? If you’re looking for new contacts for your network, then your objectives should include the uber of show-rounds.
It may be that you want to create a fam trip from your exhibition opportunity, so you should find an expo that suits that aspiration and be recruiting on that basis.
If one of your objectives is to touch base with current clients, think about what you need to do to attract people to your stand. Don’t forget to include costs of how you’re going to contact existing clients and communicate to them, on a personal level, to get them to you.
Be mindful that if you’re measuring your results on short-term success, you may well only get the cash for such a luxury once, have some clarity about what you are going to your budget holder for
Finally, speak the same language. Sorry for the sweeping statement but accountants aren’t really concerned about ambience and working the room, but they are interested in footfall, repeat business and ROI. So, read the guide book and prep yourself by doing your research first!
Thankfully, event organisers tend to speak a little bit of accountancy too, so there will be plenty of commercial and financial numbers that should help your cause.
All expos will have a marketing pack, and this will be your bible for providing information your budget holder needs to make an informed decision. It’s up to you to know how to understand and interpret the contents of this and be able to work it into a successful bid for funds.
You can start with the simple and straight forward figures:
How many buyers are they expecting / had in previous years?
How many visitors are the expecting / had in previous years?
What’s the footfall like, how many visitors can you expect to your stand? But again, this is an opportunity for you to do some research and interrogate the floor plan for a good spot. An organised drinks reception or being positioned close to the loos can almost guarantee a healthy number of visitors, hey, we’re in hospitality after all!
What’s the retention rate of exhibitors of your chosen expo? If it’s a brand-new set of exhibitors every year without any returning exhibitors, what’s that telling you? However, if it’s repeat business, from seasoned expo professionals, it shows success and they’re returning because they know that it attracts the right audience for them and quality delegates and they are clearly seeing a return in their previous investment.
What’s the breakdown of buyers and audience segmentation, who’s going and who do you want to capture?
This is pretty standard information and should be in the marketing pack that the event team will send you. If not, a quick call should fill in any gaps for your analysis.
If you need a bit more to convince them over the line, can you do a comparison to put before your budget holder of the proposed lifetime value of a customer vs the cost of exhibiting?
You could also compare the individual cost of 50+ meetings of high value individual and decision makers, plus travel, plus accommodation against the cost of exhibiting. Include the added value that you’re only out of the business for two to three days, compared to the 30 plus days out of the office you could expect going to individual meetings.
Be realistic and have all your proposed costs up front, don’t leave room for any nasty surprises. Include your time out of the office, travel and accommodation costs, marketing design and other collateral.
Have a matrix of 3-5 goals to indicate where you see your ROI will be and focus on the numbers as ‘wining new business’ is too loose, and you need to include some specific and realistic details of the kind of new business you want to achieve. For instance, develop this to include your target of how many new clients and their likely level of spend.
Target 20 people that you already do business with and want to build on the relationship that you already have, and what do you need to do to get them to your stand?
Consider the sales cycle, is it realistic to expect an immediate return? For example, we don’t tend to rebook on site as there is so much going on and it’s not really the right environment.
You must factor in time to do your follow ups. If you’re a relatively new manager and new to the game and you haven’t had a lead in six months, as your average lead time is, say, two years, then you have to take this into consideration when assessing your expo and to manage your budget holder’s expectation of when they are likely to see a result.
Do your research and make sure it is the right event and the right audience for you. For example, don’t book a Wedding Fayre if you own an Exhibition Hall!
If you need to add measurement facts, you could create an expo landing page for your website. It’s a great way to measure the level of engagement you’re creating and gives you valuable data for follow ups (GDPR complaint, of course!).
So those are my top-tips for convincing your budget holder that attending and exhibiting at your chosen expo is the right thing to do. Good luck and keep an eye open for future blogs with top tips from seasoned hospitality experts.
TT4N Emma x