Most marketers participate in trade shows to meet new prospects or drive business opportunities. They rely on a few simple financial- and pipeline-based metrics to determine the success of the event. For companies who are participating primarily for customer relationship management or brand awareness, success depends on how well the environment conveys the brand’s message. These organizations must rely on so-called “soft metrics” to quantify a successful event. As a result, we are often asked about ways to ensure investments in an exhibit’s creative and design are accomplishing their objectives. At Ion Exhibits, we suggest three main ways to gather the data:
Purchase the show audit: Many show organizers will employ a third-party auditor to review some, or all, of the exhibits on its floor. These audits are often recorded by skilled trade show experts who have evaluated hundreds, if not thousands, of booths in areas like graphics, layout, messaging and staff. The report you receive not only scores your exhibit on those criteria (usually on a 5-point scale), but also compares your scores to other exhibits (all, or in certain categories, such as size). It is a good benchmark for how attendees may visualize your environment vs. your competition, however, these audits are missing a big factor for determining your overall performance – an alignment with your objectives. With that in mind, the audit should be one factor in your creative measurement, but don’t rely on it as the sole factor.
Exit intercepts: The fastest way to get feedback on the impact of your exhibit is with exit intercept surveys. These are administered by (usually third-party) staffers positioned outside your booth who engage visitors as they leave. Question topics can vary from specific elements of the booth, to education and messaging, and the likelihood of becoming a brand ambassador. Intercepts are an excellent tool when debuting a new product or environment: based on the responses you receive, it is sometimes possible to make in-show alterations if you are not achieving the desired results.
Post-show surveys: While intercepts give instant opinions, post-show surveys confirm whether your exhibit left a long-lasting impression. Sent via e-mail to exhibit visitors, the questions usually focus on retention of key product and brand messaging. Most successful when conducted by a third-party and accompanied by a guaranteed incentive for participation, post-show surveys leave more time for open-ended responses and in-depth feedback.
Taken together, these three measurement tactics give a nearly 360-degree view of the success of your exhibit creative and provide key insight to improvements for better performance.