Business

Mastering trade show ROI (or, How to get sent to your favorite shows every time)

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fidelramos/3290470229/

Cameron Peron is VP Marketing at Newvem

When was the last time you went to a tradeshow?

How did you measure the impact that the event had on your business or personal goals?  Attending tradeshows is more than just cruising the aisles and looking and exhibitor booths. Understanding the inherent mechanics of trade shows, executing a well-defined game plan, and measuring the results in your professional life can make the difference between a useless visit and a game changing trip.

And, of course, going to interesting shows and great places more and more often.

Attending a trade show is an investment

We exhibited at AWS re:Invent in November 2012, making a major investment to meet Amazon Web Services (AWS) users in order to help them improve and optimize their cloud infrastructure.

For an attendee the ticket price cost $1,000 just to set foot in the door. Put airfare, hotel room, and a decent expense budget into the picture and an attendee could easily spend $4,000 – $5,000.  For a show attendee justifying an investment like this, both in terms of hard cash and time, is hard if not impossible to achieve.  Especially when managers and other staff see an empty desk for a few days.

Or is it?

Break down the expectations from the event and consider an active game plan (both during and after the event) to measure the time and money ROI the event cloud potentially deliver. Let’s take a closer look.

There are two main areas that a trade show can show a valuable impact on the company: knowledge and deals.

Gaining knowledge

Many tradeshows offer breakout sessions to learn from experts in a specific field of work, industry or vertical.  Think of an accelerated course to capture knowledge that could improve your ability to solve specific issues, learn best practices, and improve workflow analysis and overcoming issues as they come along.

But breakouts are not limited to your direct line of work.

For example if you’re on the sales and marketing side, attending breakout sessions of an IT, cloud, or IT operations event can help improve your knowledge of the everyday flow your customers and prospect are experience. Leveraging this knowledge cloud have a direct impact on your day to day operations (e.g., improving cloud availability for DevOps) or give you added insights on how to engage your customer base (e.g., understanding what factors are important for DevOps to address when improving availability).

Deals, deals, deals

The objective here is to show measurable value in starting new deal flow, accelerating conversions in the pipe, and improving value from existing business. There are a few methodologies to include in your in-event game plan to ensure you allocate the optimal amount of focused time:

  • Reach out to everyone related in your industry and start booking meetings
    Take an assertive approach and book 15-30 min time slots based on the objective you want to achieve.  Don’t stop until you get an answer.Total time investment: 50%
  • Book sessions with exhibitors in advance
    This is important. Randomly cruising show floor booths is not a preferred strategy unless you’re open to discuss partnerships. Consider that each booth potentially represents months of planning and budget negotiation, meaning that each staff member at the booth is focused on building new business themselves.   Booking time in advance will ensure a decent amount time to carry out your main objective rather than randomly pulling someone out of their booth.Total time investment: 40%
  • Cruise the show to understand the landscape.
    Some of your time must be invested in cruising the show to better understand the landscape, identifying potential partners, keeping tabs on competitors (both future and current), and staying in touch with associates.Total time investment: 10%

Understanding the underlying mechanics of a trade show and putting the right game plan to harvest the value at the show — and execute when you return to the office — can help you win budget each and every time you hit a new show.

Cameron Peron is VP Marketing at Newvem, a cloud operations optimization service designed for Windows  Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud users. Offering a business view into a company’s public cloud operations, Newvem actively tracks cloud health in order to help reveal and solve cloud irregularities related to cost, security, utilization and availability.  Follow Cameron at @cameronperon.

photo credit: fidelramos via photopin cc


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