Over the past 15 years I have attended conferences more than I'd like to admit. Traveling to ones like the giant CES to the local user group gatherings. I attended these conferences as a vendor or community/industry member and for the past few years I have been attending more as a marketing consultant.

I have heard this over and over again from vendors wondering if they should attend a particular show as a branding exercise. They want to be seen as a player or at least be in the conversation. All of that is good but here is the bad. Conference or tradeshow organizers are great at telling vendors the most influential decision makers will be at the show and your ideal customer is just a signature (read send us a cheque) away from buying your solution. Each show is different and attracts different profiles. Make sure you know who you’ll be speaking to and what you want from those conversations. Manage your expectations carefully and spend smart.

Why spend all those marketing dollars if your goal is not to sell product, develop opportunities and possibly find some partners.

The only metric that counts is a measurable one.

How can you measure the branding exercise? You can't!

What you can measure and rate are the number of quality conversations, number of contacts captured (Notice how I didn't say leads?) and if you are lucky, number of sales generated within 12 months of attending. These are the only metrics that count and if you do not have a measurable ROI for all 3, I say “Don’t do the show”

This is what a successful tradeshow looks like and the photo is of Navvia at HDI’s annual conference

Navvia at HDMI

GTM client, Navvia, at HDI’s annual conference

What goes into a successful tradeshow?

  • A professionally designed booth with clear and concise messaging
  • Have enough informed staffed to handle the rushes
  • Set up a charging station for attendees as a free service ( I love this one)
  • Have prizes to help draw people to your booth
  • Make sure you capture all contact info for your nurture campaigns
  • Follow up and follow through on everything discussed at the show with contacts