Audit Your Trade Show Program
The IRS does audits, why shouldn’t you?
If you always do what you always did…
Many exhibitors go through the process of executing their trade show schedule year after year without a careful financial and logistical analysis of their program. The process of planning, budgeting and implementing a busy show schedule can allow for inefficiencies to “hide” within your program. Here we will take a look at some common areas that, after an audit, can prove to save money or at least increase effectiveness and efficiency.
Your exhibit racks up a ton of mileage in a trade show year. Think about this. Let’s say you’re an East Coast company and you exhibit in Los Angeles, Vegas, and maybe other western venues as well. Shipping your trade show exhibit out and back numerous times, think about how many sets of hands have touched it? Think about all the miles it has! Perhaps one way to cut on shipping costs is to “hop” your exhibit from show to show. Your exhibit house can help with this. Some carriers will actually pick up from one show, hold the exhibit if needed, and deliver to your next show. And in some cases not charge you any more for it than the delivery fees. This can save “out and back” shipping costs as well as administrative fees from your exhibit house.
Do you really need it?
We have clients ship hundreds of pounds of literature, giveaways, soft drinks, etc to their shows. Some exhibitors even ship a refrigerator to keep giveaway beverages cold for their attendees and staffers. There’s no right or wrong, but we encourage you to think before you ship. Shipping individual pieces directly to a show can cost more. Many decorators charge a special handling fee for these items. If they can be packaged and sent with the exhibit you may save a few dollars.
Measure then manage your staffers performance
Many people claim to be “grizzled” trade show veterans and have worked shows for years. No matter how many shows you’ve worked, your approach should always be fresh and allow for the best face to face interaction in the booth space. Booth staffers should always follow the cardinal rules of engagement. That means no sitting, eating, standing with your back to your audience and so on. Exhibit managers should have regularly scheduled “pre-flight” meetings with staffers to ensure they’re up to speed and know how to effectively staff a trade show booth. Attendees will come away from your exhibit remembering a poor interaction more than the exhibit itself so it’s a great idea to help your staffers be at their best.
If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it
Measure the effectiveness of the shows you attend. It’s not just about cost per lead, but consider the long-term costs associated with the overall effectiveness of the fact you’re present at a show. In many cases, companies do not properly analyze the return they’re getting on particular shows. Don’t go just because “we always attend XYZ show.” Measure the results and make decisions to attend based on both the financial as well as the indirect benefit that may come from exposure in certain markets. A careful analysis of actual costs versus “planned” or budgeted costs will help identify inefficiencies. There’s no right answer here either, but if you can’t measure the results you can’t manage for future success and possible savings.
Get expert advice
Your exhibit house or any exhibit company worth their salt should understand your program entirely and know how you want it executed. If they are managing your exhibit you’re most likely benefitting from the combined experience of your account manager, service technicians and in-house designers. It’s like you have another entire branch of your company executing your program for you! These folks are the experts, so lean on them for guidance. Yes, they’re in business to build business and generate income, however you’re receiving a wealth of knowledge in exchange. Take advantage of that knowledge. They do this every day all day.
By: Mark Taylor