Why your tradeshow needs more ROO, and LESS ROI


(Or, How to measure up by measuring objectives)

So, you alone have been given the monumental task of managing a successful tradeshow program for your organization. Stress – growing. Budget – shrinking. It falls to you to facilitate the entire process and at the end… You will be judged.

By what, you ask? Well, the most tried and true measurement is ROI. I mean, certainly an analysis of the return on investment would determine if the budget you have been in charge of was used effectively… Right?

Well, for the tradeshow industry – not really. How do you establish a direct and demonstrable link between one of your target prospects visiting your booth six months ago, and the large deal one of your inside sales reps just closed? Don’t know? No worries, neither does anyone else.

It has been established for quite some time that exposure at the right industry tradeshow is an extremely effective form of marketing. What has been lacking is a way to quantify any type of return on a specific show or the overall program.

You say figures – They hear excuses

Many Tradeshow Coordinators, when asked if their most recent show went well, will usually respond with some variation of, “Yeah, the aisles were full…” or “We had a lot of traffic in our booth” or “We handed out all of our brochures this year…”.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly endear you to the folks in the corner offices. In the current economic environment, pressure is being exerted from the top down to find ways to do more with less. This means the executive urge to apply ROI to a tradeshow program is almost unshakable.

What is needed is a different concept. Something called RETURN ON OBJECTIVES. What is that, you ask? I’m glad you asked. ROO is the ammunition you need to provide measurable results for those who crave measurement, plain and simple.

Okay, prepare yourself for the cringe-inducing question that will follow… Ready? Here goes. “We just purchased a new tradeshow booth for $120,000. Then we shipped it from show to show all across the country. We spent $72,000 on our last show alone…

“What have we gained?”

Still here? Okay, good – only the strong survive. So, go ahead and try to answer this question using the ROI construct… I dare you. Please email me with your answers – THIS I have to hear. However, when you change the paradigm (the corner office likes terms like paradigm) and apply the ROO construct instead, your answer might sound a bit like this…

“What have we gained? I’m so glad you asked! We performed a demo of our newest product to 130 highly qualified show attendees. Our VP of Sales had 13 one-on-one meetings with the C-level contacts of our top prospects. We took the high level contacts of 7 of our best current clients to dinner. We gathered intelligence on 2 of our largest competitor’s products. There was a 20% increase since the last show in attendees registering to see our guest speaker. Our new product launch was featured on 5 trade publication websites. And, and, and…”

Well, you get the picture. Suddenly, you are a measurement machine. Set realistic and measurable marketing and sales related goals to achieve, track, and report on during your show.

Do this, and you can become a terminator of ROI expectations, and a black belt master of ROO enlightenment.

Steve Hancock
Director of Strategic Services


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"The response was awesome! People were amazed by the booth. "

Todd Field, Creative DirectorDixon Ticonderoga

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