Event ROI: To Attend or Not to Attend?

I am constantly reminded of the need for strong planning on the front end of any project. A colleague of mine calls the opposite “stream of consciousness planning”. It’s amazing to me how many times programs, campaigns and projects are put into place without a rhyme or reason as to why it’s going to be done in the first place except to increase sales. While I understand that is an important reason, the question remains, “How exactly are you going to increase sales simply by attending that trade show?”.

Nothing should ever be implemented without a clear strategy being discussed and laid out first.

From a communications perspective, I’ve learned quite a bit in the past few years about measuring return on investment against the activities in which your organization chooses to participate.

The most recent examples I’ve got in my head pertain to trade shows. Those pesky industry and association events we all feel we must attend each year. But my question is whether or not you have set up a way to measure your attendance and determine whether the show is truly valuable? I’ve had many people tell me over the years that companies should attend particular shows simply because it’s always been done, but I have a really difficult time accepting that as a valid reason to continue attending. In my view, it’s critically important to gather information, such as revenue targets, to determine whether or not the show makes financial sense. Companies should not make an assumption about the value of a show simply based on history.

While I understand there is a brand awareness being built through attendance at these shows and events, it’s still possible to develop an ROI plan around awareness. It’s our job as marketing professionals to figure out the right metrics for our organization to make the most of the dollars we’ve been given to manage.

What are your thoughts?

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