In my first article of this six part series, I said that for too many companies, their exhibiting investments end up as “expensive appearances”.

And the two big factors creating this outcome were perspectives and practices. And finally, to ensure your exhibiting program does not end up as “expensive appearances” there are five critical success factors which must be addressed.

Over the series, I addressed four of the critical success factors. Today, I will address the 5th factor, which is measurement and learning.

Peter Drucker, one of America’s foremost business experts eloquently said “what gets measured, gets done”. I will add to his eloquent quote by saying “what gets measured, also gets improved.”

So the BIG question is “what are you measuring with regard to your exhibiting program?”

When I ask exhibitors what they are measuring, their answers are surprisingly simplistic:

  • How much we spent
  • What we spent it on
  • If we were under or over budget
  • How many scans, swipes or leads we collected
  • How many of our customers were at the event and how many we interacted with

In my opinion, none of these metrics do a thorough enough job to determine whether the exhibiting program is supporting your core business objectives, how well it’s performing, or if you are getting financial value beyond cost.

Exhibiting Performance Metrics

You should identify a specific set of metrics that help you determine how well your exhibit is performing. While there are many performance metrics you could use, here are eight of the most popular.

  1. Exhibit Interaction Capacity/Utilization can help you set an interaction goal and measure how well you did towards achieving it.
  2. Exhibit Attraction Efficiency can help you measure how many people in the show audience matched your Ideal Visitor Profile and how many you attracted to your booth.
  3. Visitor Dwell Time can help you determine how engaging of an exhibit experience you are delivering.
  4. Aisle Traffic and Booth Visitor Count can help you determine what percent of attendees near your booth are stopping.
  5. Product Interest can help you determine which of your solutions were of most interest to visitors.
  6. Lead Goal and Actual can help you set and track how many leads you’ve captured.
  7. Lead Quality can help you determine how well your booth staff is doing it qualifying and capturing visitor information.
  8. Lead Conversion will help you determine what percentage of your leads are converting to business.

Financial Performance Metrics

To determine if the exhibit is delivering measurable financial value beyond cost, you also need to define a set of financial performance metrics. Here are nine of the most popular.

  1. Percent of Exhibiting Spend by Major Area can help you benchmark your spend relative to industry averages and focus on areas that are above or below the average.
  2. Cost Per Visitor Interaction will tell you what you paid to create face-to-face interaction with a visitor in your exhibit.
  3. Cost Per Lead will tell you what you paid to capture a lead. It’s important to compare cost per lead to your average sale amount to make sure lead acquisition costs are not devouring too much of your gross margin.
  4. Cost Per Customer/Prospect Meeting will tell you what the cost of a meeting was which could be compared to your cost of generating meetings in the field.
  5. Potential Revenue Value of Leads will help you determine the potential revenue value generated from exhibiting. When you have a long sales cycle or lack a closed loop lead management system this is a great metric for marketing to report.
  6. New Sales generated from the show this will help you measure hard dollar ROI.
  7. Incremental Sales from existing customers will also help you measure hard dollar ROI.
  8. Hard Dollar ROI will help you determine financial return on investment. This could be measured in top line revenue or gross margin revenue.
  9. Soft Dollar ROI will help you determine areas where you got financial value that can be quantified or expressed in numeric terms. This will typically focus on savings and potential revenue opportunities generated.

So how many of these metrics are you currently using, or more importantly, should you add to your measurement program? I recommend using as many of these as you have the skill set and bandwidth to measure.

And possibly, one of the most important things you should document is “what are the 3 most important things that you learned from the experience that you can apply to make your next exhibiting experience even better?”

In closing, Plato said “the unexamined life is not worth living”. I feel that because of the huge investment of human and financial capital, any company that is not proactively measuring exhibiting performance and financial value has no choice but to continue making expensive exhibiting appearances.