Determining Your Trade Show Objectives

Millions of individuals attend and thousands of companies participate, but relatively few who are involved in trade shows fully understand the exhibit medium and attain their trade show objectives. Many exhibitors at the average trade or industrial show make gross errors in their exhibits because they do not know what the medium is or how to use it wisely.

There are many reasons why a company enters a trade show, and it is important that a company spell out its trade show objectives before making this decision. These trade show objectives can include: to make sales; to maintain an image and continuing contact with customers; to initiate contact with new customers; to introduce a new product or service; to demonstrate equipment; to offer an opportunity for customers to bring their technical problems and obtain solutions; to obtain feedback from booth visitors; to relate to the competition; etc

The most common trade show objective, of course, is the first one: to make sales and the trade show can play a unique role in leading a prospective buyer from mild interest to the decisive act of placing an order. While making sales and sales contacts is the most common objective of an exhibit, it is certainly not the only one. Participation in a trade show is a good way to sharpen one’s sensitivity to the conditions of the marketplace. At a trade show, you can sense the general attitude of people more rapidly than any other way.

Pinpoint your trade show objectives:

In order to utilise the special characteristics of the trade show exhibit to their maximum, you must make it an integral part of the marketing program. You must define exactly what you want your exhibit to accomplish, and then see that all decisions about design, copy, scheduling, and so on, are based on these decisions. It all starts with the company’s marketing goals, which are broken down into goals for each division or perhaps for each product or product line.

When you set a trade show objective, be sure it is meaningful and measurable. Objectives are written statements of measurable goals, prepared before participation in a trade show. Putting these objectives in writing not only helps you, the exhibitor, clarify your planning, but provides specific guidelines to everyone else involved: design; implementation, participation and evaluation.

These trade show objectives have two components:

(a) Target audience (to whom, specifically are you communicating?) and

(b) Quantifiable objectives: It is not adequate to say ‘My objective is to display our new product’. This is not measurable.

These statements are measurable:

· To attract 15% of the total attendees to our booth to see a demonstration of our new product.

· To communicate Benefit 1 and Benefit 2 about our product to attendees and to obtain 1,200 literature requests and 750 requests for demonstrations of our product.

With proper research these can be measured and the data will pinpoint a contribution of the show, will help justify the cost and, will be a benchmark of accomplishment against which future participation can be compared.

Plan your trade show objectives:

The first groups of question to ask are basic:

“What shows shall we enter?”
“How much space do we need in each?”
“What do we want to say?”
“Whom do we want to reach?”
“What do we want to accomplish?”
“What kind of an exhibit design do we need to achieve our objectives?”
“How do we tell our story?”

Once these are answered you need to ask:

“How much will this cost us?”

However, the most important questions to ask and really the place to start, because they get to the essentials of your marketing plan are: “what is the real reason for going into this show at all?
“What end do we wish to reach?” and “What are our goals?”

Ken MacKenzie’s eBook “The Trade Show Edge” is at: Trade Show Objectives He has had some 30 years experience in small business marketing and public relations. In his consulting to the United States Department of Commerce, Ken served as Principal Advisor to the United States Trade Centre Director on major U.S. trade event planning and implementation of numerous U.S. Government sponsored trade shows covering many different industry groups.