Set the stage for tradeshow – and ROI – success with a personal event plan

Generating more business is a critical goal for print and marketing services providers. But how do you measure success? Is $1,000 enough? $10,000? $1 million? What are you basing the amount on? What has succeeded in the past and what has failed? What dependencies need to be considered, both internal and external? What’s your time frame? In addition to Graphics Canada being back in town this year, there are many reasons for attending events in 2019 and 2020 (drupa anyone?) – including the whole FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) syndrome. Tradeshows provide a unique opportunity to go beyond digital lead-generation activities. They’re where you can have one-on-one conversations critical for success. But in the end, it always comes back to ROI – and having a personal plan will help set the stage for tradeshow success.

Creating a personal plan is simple. All you have to do is answer these two questions:

1: Why are you there? When asked this question, most people will either answer that they’re an Exhibitor/Vendor (they’re selling) or a Delegate/Consumer (they’re buying). Think beyond those hats. Who are you there to meet/learn from/sell to/buy from? Are you media? A presenter? Are you there to keep up with certifications? Do you want to network? Are you looking for a job? Different people from the same company often attend the same event – for different reasons. Having a personal plan which complements your company’s event plan will maximize your time, your efforts and your success – before, during and after the event. Yes, it’s easy to lump yourself into someone who’s either buying or selling. But if you dig a bit deeper, and become as specific as possible, then your chances for success will grow exponentially – along with your ROI.

2: How will you measure your success? Seasoned B2B marketers will tell you the most common tradeshow measure of success is the number of leads generated. How you identify a lead—and how you’ll measure it—will define your ROI. Everyone in sales, marketing and business development needs to agree on the definition of a qualified lead, and their roles in the marketing and sales cycle. Without this consensus, your success diminishes. Perhaps you’re attending purely for the educational content. In that case, you could choose to measure leads as the number of conversations you have with presenters, fellow delegates or vendors. Or, the number of sessions you attend. What if you’re in the job market? In this case, you’re the product, and your leads include all the people who’ll help you find – and land – your next job.

Your plan can be as simple or as complex as you like – as long as it’s “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, Timely). Your personal event plan should outline how you’ll:

  • Get the word out that you’re attending
  • Make an impression
  • Capture and manage your leads
  • Follow up

When it comes time to answer whether or not it was a “good show,” remember why you went in the first place and how you planned to measure success and ROI. In addition to these results, capture what went well and what could have gone better in a summary report. It’s good practice to do this daily and record any ideas, recommendations and insights while they’re fresh in your mind. This is where the “a-ha” moments go. This is where you uncover hidden opportunities that may become new lead criteria in your next personal event plan – and where you can measure your plan’s true impact when compared to past events. Before you attend your next tradeshow, consider how your personal event plan will impact your ROI – and your success. I look forward to meeting you at Graphics Canada, April 11 – 13, 2019. Please join my seminar: What Exactly Do Millennials Want? Tap into the new print-buyer mindset to drive profitability and learn how to tell your story to a new generation of print and business buyers.



Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies maximize their marketing and communications efforts. Founder of Joanne Gore Communications, she helps companies tell their story to a new generation of print and business buyers. Email: Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121