That’s it. Four long days and many hundreds of handshakes and smiles later, you’re finally done with your latest exhibition, back on the plane and ready to return to the office and sleep in your own bed again. Your work is over right? Job well done? Well, mostly–but not quite. In fact, the part that comes next is in many ways the most important part of all. That is reporting, reflecting and analyzing your recent trade show exhibition.
Socrates once famously said that, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” We tend to agree with him, at least so far as gauging your trade show success goes. So, in the spirit and pursuit of trade show exhibiting perfection, we encourage all of our clients to engage in a sincere and thorough examination of their past trade show exhibitions.
But, what should this analysis cover? Well, most importantly it should match up with your pre-show goals so that you can determine how well you met or exceeded these goals. Here are a few examples of areas where you might want to measure trade show performance:
Number (and quality) of sales leads generated
Number (type, quality) of strategic networking relationships developed
Effectiveness and reception of your tradeshow booth (exhibit design)
Staff performance (individually and as a group)
Efficacy of PR, marketing and promotional efforts
How your tradeshow booth stacked up against competition
Again, it could be a good idea to evaluate all of these items and consider them in your report, but you want to give the most weight to those which you set explicit goals for. For example, if your recent exhibition was focused on generating sales leads, then you might weigh that more heavily in your end analysis.
Reflecting on all of this will allow you to get a very comprehensive understanding of just how smoothly your exhibiting went and how effective your overall trade show presence was in achieving your strategic goals (you did set goals for your exhibition didn’t you?)
Where Do We Go From Here?
“What a long, strange trip it’s been.” This isn’t just the title of a best-selling compilation album by a popular jam band, it’s also a phrase that is muttered not infrequently by exhibitors as they get off the plane on their way back from a successful trade show appearance. But, even though this statement might explain the experience in a short and concise manner, it falls a bit short of providing enough detailed analysis to please executives and enable a comprehensive view of your trade show appearance.
The folks back at HQ are going to want to know just how strange it was, and why. Hopefully, it was strange in an, “Oh my god that product launch was such an unmitigated success that we just don’t know what to do with all of this positive attention and oodles of sales leads” type of way.
That’s the purpose of an effective post-show report: to analyze the effectiveness of your tradeshow booth and your show attendance in general, and to judge how well you met your goals.
It’s important to gauge the success that you had and measure it against your pre-show goals in order to determine if your overall exhibiting strategy paid off. The effectiveness of your trade show presence should be determined solely according to how well you met (or exceeded) your strategic goals, which underscores the importance of setting effective, challenging and attainable goals in the first place.
Measuring Performance Is The First Step To Improving Performance
Obviously, if you can’t quantify how well your tradeshow booth performed and why, then replicating that success is going to be more of a shot-in-the-dark than a sure thing. Some people still operate this way, constantly shooting from the hip and going with their intuition about what is best in a given situation. But, let’s face it, these people are dying out in the corporate world. Most managers and executives today want to know how you achieved your success in detail, so they can use that data to hone in on the good, eliminate the bad and further improve performance in the future.
That’s why the post-show report is so important. It provides that accurate retrospective analysis that managers everywhere like to see. It quantifies how effective your tradeshow booth was, and measures your overall performance as well. This sets the stage for identifying problematic areas and areas of success so that your next trade show presence can be even more successful.
Altogether, the post-show report is a crucial part of every company’s efforts to keep improving on their exhibition success and performance. Don’t neglect it, or you will find yourself unable to repeat past successes and avoid future failures.