Two different groups look at the same half-full glass of water and come up with different conclusions. As optimists and pessimists engage in a war of opinions, it’s been this way for ages. Recently, however, I must admit that the pessimists seem more in control in this world of exhibitions.
All major indicators point to a clear victory of the pessimists: a reduction in exhibit space net square feet, a decrease of professional attendance, fallen revenue, and lower consumer spending. The GDP has plummeted. The only indicators that have increased were show cancellations and unemployment. The economy has been so bad that even die-hard optimists have trouble seeing the bright side.
Is there any hope in this new world, fueled by pessimists? Yes. Even the most pessimists admit there is still hope for exhibitions. We may need to wait for a while and see what happens.
What can we do? Waiting and sitting on our hands won’t make a difference. Regardless of the recession, businesses still need to make a profit, produce, and share equity. Face-to-face marketing is not an option. We cannot improve on these.
While we wait to see what the future holds for exhibitions, here are some things you might want to do.
1. Take the time to reflect on your marketing approach. Is face-to-face marketing essential to the health and growth of your company?
Exhibit marketing’s number one benefit is likely to be face-to-face. Although social networking has become more popular, you should still ask yourself if there is still a need for clients and customers to be met in person.
2. What is the importance of measurement?
Forget about your perceived difficulties in measuring success. Would it help if you could measure? If yes, then you can learn the techniques to take accurate measurements.
3. How committed is your organization to your exhibit program’s success?
Your organization needs three types of resources: money, people, and equipment. It is time to review the attitudes of your senior management if your exhibit program feels like a poor marketing cousin in your overall marketing plan. You will need to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Objectives(ROO) calculations in order to get a commitment to resources during these difficult times.
4. What have you taken away from your exhibit experiences?
Exhibit managers who don’t conduct a post-show assessment are at a disadvantage. Your efforts are more than the number and quality of leads you have collected. To be able to identify what is working in your program, you need to consider all information. This information will help you make informed decisions about the future. You should consider the following: the number of high-value leads, booth visitors, and traffic patterns at the show. Also, your sales cycle, success rates, sales tools, lead retrieval systems, and time spent with high-value visitors are some of the things you need to measure. Your ability to improve your program will increase the more leads you collect.
5. What are your plans for the future?
The recession will end soon, and the optimists are back in control. You have plenty of time and breathing room to review your exhibit budget line-by-line to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. You will be amazed at the results of a critical and skeptical approach.
Your job is easy, pessimists. Instead of slamming your exhibit program with cold water, take the time to make it look good again. The pessimists today are the winners, but the optimists tomorrow are ready to make a healthy comeback.