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It’s important occasionally, and especially post-pandemic, that we take a deeper look at our event programs and challenge the status quo. Just because things have always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that they should continue. Audiences, shows, organizations, tastes, options, competitors, travel budgets, virtual options, internal leadership, and a host of other elements change with time, and that may mean tweaks are needed in your plans. Following are five things to consider challenging in your program.
One: Challenge your Calendar. Look at the shows that are on your annual tradeshow calendar. Are there overlaps with audiences that potentially allow elimination of certain shows? Are there underperforming shows that are trending downwards that may need to be reconsidered moving forward? Conversely, are there new shows or different shows that should be on your radar? Attending a show because you always have, is never a good enough reason. With costs escalating, and management demanding better ROI ‘s, the shows that you choose to spend your budget on need to perform optimally to provide the desired return. And if sales insists on attendance (which they have been known to do), be sure to get their commitment, shared with leadership, on their performance and accountability to results.
Two: Challenge your Exhibit Space. Here again, because you’ve always had a certain size space, is it the right size, is it the right footprint, is it the right placement for what you’re looking to accomplish at a particular event? Is a large island booth bringing the returns you need from a square footage standpoint? Are there large areas within your space that are going underutilized? Rightsizing is more important than ever to ensure that you are maximizing the effectiveness of the space, and the efficiencies in your budget to ensure that your costs for the event, space, exhibit, drayage, shipping, and all related expenses are working as hard as they can towards meeting your objectives.
Three: Challenge your Organizer. Many times, we think of show organizer contacts as we think of used car salesmen – out to sell us what they want to sell us. These reps though, when good relationships are cultivated, can become one of our greatest resources. They have their finger on the pulse of the industry, your competitors and seen and unseen opportunities within the event. Utilize these allies to garner inside information on the event that can help inform deeper insight and better decision making on event space, sponsorships, or competitor’s plans, trends, promotions, and other elements. Checking a box to do the same thing as last year can be a deterrent to growth. Your rep can help you think outside the box to drive innovation and improvement.
Four: Challenge your Staff. Do you really need 15 people to work the space? Are they being utilized to their fullest, or is their presence not completely necessary? Even worse, do they not want to be there? Right sizing your staff can give you dollars back from T&E expenses that can be better invested in promotions to drive greater traffic for greater engagement to and at the booth. Also, those people that you are bringing, are they the right people? Are they the staff that are the most engaging and will perform the best in the space? Sometimes junior people are more eager and see the opportunity to be on the show floor more positively. Partnering great junior staff with seasoned staff can help grow stronger teams for the future.
Five: Challenge your Promotion Plan. Where cost deficiencies are found in the other areas, consider taking some of those savings and rolling them into a more robust promotion plan. Pre-show promotions help to drive attendance, awareness, and action. Getting the right people to the right space helps encourage increased effectiveness of your program. Also, look at your existing efforts - are they paying the dividends that you need them to? Is that hospitality event providing any ROI that’s measurable? Or do you scramble for attendance and is it just an opportunity to share a few drinks with a few clients that may be done on a more cost-effective scale? Looking at your plan with a critical eye, and challenging each expense and each element, can help you weed out tactics that aren’t working as well as they could be, and free up dollars to put towards more effective trade show engagements.
Finding the time to undertake these challenges can be, well, challenging in itself. Involve your team and stakeholders in brainstorming sessions that can help weed out the underperforming elements and replace them with up to the minute thinking, strategies and tactics to drive improved results from your program.
Want to learn more about challenging your conventions and improving your efficiency and effectiveness within your trade show program? Contact Ben Olson at the OLSON experience, LLC at email@example.com or visit www.theolsonexperience.com.
About Ben Olson: With over 20 years in creating great experiences that bring brands and audiences successfully together face-to-face and face-to-screen, Ben has helped some of the world’s most iconic brands, in B2B and B2C spaces, engage, enlighten, and evoke action with their target audiences. With senior leadership experience on both agency and brand sides, Ben has built strategic and creative experiential marketing teams and integrated marketing offerings at such organizations as; Momentum Worldwide, mg/MG Design and GES. Currently, Ben is Chief Experience Officer at the OLSON experience, LLC, offering experiential and brand strategy assistance to agencies, exhibit houses and directly to brands. Visit www.theolsonexperience.com to learn more.