Events like these have only one meaningful metric – ROI. This checklist shows you how to plan to maximise ROI – long before you pay a cent – and know for sure if it will be worth attending next time.
1. Know your objectives
Why are you attending, is it to:
- Increase market share with existing users?
- Introduce new b2b tech marketing products/services into existing markets ?
- Promote new b2b tech marketing products/services into new markets?
- Increase visibility with potential partners?
- Or just to be seen (you feel you must be there)?
How will you measure success?
- What will you measure?
- Who needs a hard copy of objectives and measures?
What’s the budget?
- How much can you spend and
- What is your projected or acceptable ROI?
2. Collate everything
Do you have a master checklist that covers everything? For example:
- Event deadlines (artwork, sponsorship, equipment delivery, bump-in and bump-out, event promotion)
- Sponsorship opportunities
- Company attendees at the show
- Dinner or related events
- Flights and accommodation
- Contact names and numbers
- Gifts, estimates, quotes and actual costs etc?
3. Define your message
What’s the one key message?
- What is new/topical/relevant to this market?
- What is the key message this year/this event?
- How does it support your b2b product launch strategy objectives/core messaging?
- How can you use few words to ensure it’s clear, concise and compelling?
- How can you use it in all trade show marketing, communications, booth graphics, banners, brochures, sponsorship message?
- Who is handling the artwork (for stand, collateral and communications) and tactical marketing plan?
- Who is overseeing consistency and budgets?
3. Plan your stand
What equipment do you need to support the message?
- What space do you need to accommodate equipment (shelves, cupboards, tables etc)
- What special requirements (security, power, lighting, laptops, big screens)?
- How can you also ensure maximum wall/ promotional space for your message?
What’s the attraction, ’wow’ factor, differentiator?
- How will you draw people in?
- How will you stand out from competitors?
- Will you have an attraction (gift, raffle, game, guest, entertainment)?
- How can yours be different, more intelligent or relevant?
- What can you give away as a reminder (for those who don’t win)?
- What movement/animation/interest will you use (Video, TV etc)?
What materials are needed?
- Registration of interest forms?
- Brochures (a few to show)?
- Fliers (many more to give away; linked to theme, prize and brochures)?
- Giveaways (memorable and portable)?
- Prize (to be collected later, if large)?
- Raffle, competition forms?
- How will you prioritise leads (to differentiate for staged follow up)?
NB: Avoid having a lot of portable material that would be useful for competitors.
How much space do you have?
- How will you avoid congestion, barriers?
- How can you make the booth linear or with several entry points (not just one in middle of front)?
- Will visitors be entertained there or elsewhere?
- How many people do you expect on the stand?
- What furniture will be needed?
- What space is left for key messages (take into account where your staff will sit or stand)?
- How can booth be arranged to maximize impact yet minimise clutter?
4. Choose attendees
- Who are best suited to this event(eg. saas content marketing agency, b2b internet marketing agency) and its delegates (sales, technical, customer service)?
- When do they need to be there?
- Do they all need to be there all the time?
- Do you want to reward another staff member with attendance at the event?
- How will you handle breaks, overload?
- Has the travel been organized?
- Who will organize it and by when?
What security/access is needed?
- For the booth and equipment
- For access for your staff?
- For guests (passes etc)?
6. Ensure promotion
- Who needs to know that you’re attending?
- How will you let them know (email, ads, social media etc)?
- What incentives will you give attendees to visit your booth (link to wow factor)?
- When will you promote it?
- How many times will you promote it, finishing when?
7. Follow up
- What will you send out afterwards?
- How quickly can you follow up?
- How will you follow up (and avoid being in the avalanche of competing messages)?
- Who will do it?
8. Review objectively
- Who will evaluate the event afterwards (more than one is best)?
- What are the evaluation criteria (see 1. Objectives)?
- Were the objectives met?
- What was the total event cost (include everything)?
- What was the value of genuine tech sales leads?
- What was the ROI?
- Will you attend next year?
Original text written by Tracey James and Updated by Matthew Whyatt