Are you measuring a trade show’s value to your business by its size and the degree of your hangover? Here is why it’s time to change your perspective.
It can be an exciting time when you attend a trade show. Shows are often held in exotic locations and the stories are legendary about after-hours events and manufacturer’s parties.
Too many companies however suffer from a common trade show albatross: they can’t track their ROI from attending the show. This is the problem for most companies attending trade shows. They see the fun, they feel the hangover but they don’t see how to generate the ROI.
If you feel caught up in this trade show cycle don’t feel bad as you are not alone. You can however develop the practices you need to generate positive ROI from trade show attendance. Here’s how:
1. DO AN OBLIGATION DETOX.
Many companies attend trade shows because the shows are cool or because they feel they have to be there.
Psychologists tell us what we are really experiencing in these moments is anticipatory anxiety and manipulations by others. The little voice inside your head is telling you that you should attend the show is really the collective voices of other people – friends, vendors, staff and the overall culture. We’ve internalized these voices and feel compelled to follow them.
You can combat these feelings of obligation by making conscious choices. Instead of doing what you feel compelled to do, make a deliberate choice to do what’s best for your business. Remind yourself that you are in business to make a profit, not to do what others think you should or what is fun.
List what your goals and objectives are when considering show attendance. This guides your decision-making. If you attend a show or display at one, goals will clarify your actions and improve your chances of generating high ROI.
2. KNOW WHEN TO SAY WHEN
We’ve all seen them…the hung-over show attendees working a booth or walking the floor. How effective are those people in that condition?
A neat study done at Harvard found that the main component for business people who had true satisfaction in their lives is the “deliberate imposition of limits.” Satisfied business people set boundaries and limits.
Establish your own guidelines about what you will do at the show and when – including what you drink, eat and when you sleep. You should be at a trade show to help your business, not to see how much you can shooters and hookers you can do in an evening.
3. CHOOSE ACTIVITIES WISELY
It’s important to take your time at a trade show or conference seriously. The most profitable and gratifying experiences are most often the result of planning, strategy, skill and persistence.
Plan what you need to do and need to accomplish before attending the show. It constantly amazes me that exhibitors at shows (spending tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars) haven’t set specific, measurable objectives. Goals and objectives help you define behaviors and how you spend your time. Your time spent at shows should satisfy your business objectives and interests. Choose to do things based upon what resonates with your goals.
Most of us have dramatically wasted time and money at trade shows. It’s time that stopped. It’s profitable returns on your time and money that drive your business, our economy and for most business owners, their professional happiness.