By Cesare Ferrari, TRB Chemedica International
If you have read my previous two articles, you should have a clear idea on what to do before and during trade shows. In this third article (of the three-part series), I will describe the activities to set up after the show in order to maximize your results.
Follow Up With All Leads
Keep your promises. If you said you'd send the information required, please send the information as soon as you get back. Many small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) fail to mobilize resources for follow-up, instead considering the trade show as only a three- or four-day event. And several studies are confirming the poor follow-up ratio of trade show leads.
It is extremely important to have a process that generates prompt follow-up. Hence, you should create a follow-up plan for all the generated leads and include the data in a customer relationship management (CRM) system to make the entire process trackable.
Organize A Post-Show Team Debriefing
After the show — the sooner, the better — organize a meeting with your team that worked at the trade show and share the first results of what was accomplished during the event. The debrief meeting will determine future strategies and tactics, evaluate the trade show performance in general, and note what should be changed the next time. For example, you might determine that:
- Your staff needs additional training.
- It's better not to consider the show in your plans for the coming year.
- You need to optimize the design of the booth.
- The way the products are displayed is not attracting visitors.
Document the results of the meeting, and use them when creating your trade show plan for the next show. By taking a disciplined, focused approach, you will leverage trade shows as part of a successful integrated marketing and business development strategy.
Measure The Results
We all know that "what gets measured gets done." Go back to the goals you set a few months ago and see what happened after the trade show. You can compare your results with those from other exhibitions and the same trade shows from previous years.
Measuring and evaluating the performance of medical exhibitions is crucial for marketing and sales professionals since participation requires a substantial investment. Exhibitors must also evaluate the financial and non-financial returns of the trade show investment according to their singular or multidimensional objectives.
My experience with SME medical device companies is that a structured process to evaluate performance is rare and sometimes nonexistent.
To assess the effectiveness of shows, here are three general dimensions to focus on:
- Audience quality indicators
- Audience activity indicators
- Exhibit effectiveness indicators
Some possible indicators are the following.
The number of visitors: An indicator of the success of the exhibition and booth attraction is the absolute number of visitors to the booth or the number of visitors relative to the potential audience of the whole congress. For example, if you exhibited at a major trade show covering all medical device market segments, you likely targeted a specific segment of the trade show’s audience.
Staff performance: There are several possible measures. For example, if the company was concerned with lead generation, an indication of staff performance might be the number of prequalified leads generated per staff member.
Cost per visitor: One of the most widely used metrics that focuses on effectiveness is the cost per visitor. It is calculated by determining total exhibition costs and dividing this figure by the number of visitors stopping by your booth.
There is no point in looking for benchmark data since every company is different. However, comparing your internal data year after year is a good practice. In my experience, this dimension is steadily increasing over the years.
Channel management indicators: If your goal is to use the trade show to manage your current distributors and recruit new partners, the number of organized meetings with partners and the number of contacts with possible partners are good indicators to evaluate the congress.
Relationship-building and image-building indicators: Several measures are possible. This includes the number of visits of pre-contacted prospects, the number of visits of established customers, the number of giveaways, the number of coffee meetings, the number of brochures distributed and demos organized, the number of surveys filled out, the number of registrants for any specific activity, etc.
Unfortunately, many companies, especially SMEs, participate in trade shows without setting clear objectives or having a good plan for the pre-show, the show, and the post-show. Consequently, the congress does not yield results in line with to the companies’ expectations.
Many companies also fail to measure the return on their trade show investment. However, this is not a good reason to become a critic of congress participation.
Managing medical trade shows properly and measuring their effectiveness can be challenging for an SME. But developing measures to monitor performance and implement best practices during the three key steps of the trade show participation can provoke positive outcomes.
Overall, SMEs that successfully measure and improve the effectiveness of trade shows will be very helpful in supporting the believers — as I am — and convincing the skeptics of their role in marketing and business development.
About The Author:
Cesare Ferrari is area director CSEA at TRB Chemedica International. He is a sales and marketing leader with an extensive international experience in healthcare (pharma and medtech). He holds a master's in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Milan and an exMBA from SDA Bocconi School of Management — Milan. You can find him on LinkedIn.