Tips and Trends

Why Every Trade Show Marketer Needs A Baseline Exhibit Audit and/or Exit Survey

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The 3D Exhibits team is extremely passionate about getting our clients to do baseline exhibit audits and exit surveys. Everyone needs a baseline audit and/or exit survey because if you don’t know where you started, how can you prove what you’ve achieved? And when you can’t prove what you’ve achieved—you can’t maximize your career success.

We like to share the story of Cathy, a tremendously talented exhibit manager. When she started her current job five years ago, what she inherited could have barely been called a trade show marketing program. Lead gen was hit and miss; the exhibit had inconsistent messaging and looked just like every other exhibit on the floor; the exhibit staff came across as tired and bored; promotion was non-existent.

When we suggested an exhibit audit and exit survey, she passed. It seemed silly to measure when she already knew pretty much what she was going to find—right?

Over the next five years, Cathy worked hard. She implemented a custom lead gen system that merges trade show leads right into her company CRM; built a dramatic exhibit presence that uses pain-point messaging to attract prospects; and created promotions and marketing programs that have driven record numbers of leads into her booth. She even transformed her exhibit staff into an enthusiastic selling machine. Management was thrilled!

Everything was great for Cathy until her company was acquired by a competitor. Overnight, the manager who supported her was gone and she was on the hot seat to justify her budget and position. When the new management wanted to know what Cathy and her program brought to the table, Cathy had all sorts of current performance data—but nothing to document the full extent of the amazing transformation she’d piloted. Cathy wished she’d done that baseline audit and exit survey five years ago. If she had, she would have had the quantitative data she needed to prove the huge impact her efforts had made.

Despite Cathy’s efforts, her new management failed to recognize the value of her program. Over time, they cut a few shows and cut the budget as well. This made it impossible for Cathy to deliver the value she’d previously been able to contribute to the company.

Cathy stayed with the company another year before finding another job—and, what do you know, the first thing she did was commission an audit and exit survey for her first show at her new company. Now it’s two years later and Cathy has charts and graphs that illustrate exactly where her program has started and how far it’s come.

Cathy’s experience reminded us just how important it is to encourage our clients to measure their results—and that the sooner you start, the better. You never know when you will get a new manager or move to a new company, and having baseline measurement will help show your value to any trade show program.

If you’d like to start measuring your results, let us know. We’ll help you decide if you need an audit, or exit survey, or both—and get you started in creating a year-over year trade show results graph.

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