I've been thinking a lot about events lately and decided to put my thoughts on paper to crystallize them. Then I thought to myself, "why not share?". I hope this is helpful information for you.
No matter how amazing an event presence may look to the subjective eye, it must be measured objectively to ensure its ROI. Analyzing the results of an event is a challenging endeavor due to numerous variables, including outside influences and the effectiveness of the field team manning the event. Despite the challenge, there are ways to quantify results and report findings that will allow for smart decision-making on future events.
There are three steps to building an effective event analysis:
#1 Set Goals
Set goals and communicate them broadly to the team well prior to an event. Some goals may change based on the individual event, while some will likely remain constant. The SMART goal system still works, so there’s no need to look further for an effective framework. Goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Key to achieving goals for any endeavor is obtaining buy-in from the execution team. If they don’t believe that the goals are appropriate or realistic, it will be difficult to get the team behind the effort. Depending on the situation, asking for input and/or requesting a written commitment to the goals can help get everyone on the same page. Tying an incentive to success is a very positive motivator.
Key Event Goals
# of Leads (all)
Time-frame for Follow-Up Sales Contact
# of Qualified Leads from New Prospects
# of Qualified Leads from Existing Customers
# of Customer Meetings Completed
# of Demonstrations Performed
$ of Immediate Orders
$ of Subsequent Orders (time-boxed)
Other goals such as raising brand awareness and press or public relations benefits are more difficult to measure, but it can be accomplished with pre- and post-surveys.
#2 Prepare for Success
To get great results, prepare materials and resources that make it easier for the execution team to track achievements. The most vital of these is the lead capture form. Whether it is part of an electronic scanning solution or created in-house, it must be as short and easy to fill out as possible, while still capturing enough information to be useful. The less typing required, the better. Check boxes are great for this purpose. Likewise, the less work it is to load the information into your CRM, the quicker you can have it. Real-time download from form to CRM is ideal. Ensure that the fields consistently map to the correct locations for accurate reporting.
Another excellent tool is a visitor survey. While not as reliable as objective data, customer feedback can lead to important insights that will improve future results. Ensure that every question is unambiguous and that each answer can be tied to the measurement of a goal. Five great questions are better than 10 poorly phrased ones. Ideally, offer an incentive to existing and potential customers to complete pre- and post-surveys. Trade shows often have a survey. Ask for the survey results and check with them in advance to see if you can get some specific questions added.
Set expectations for how the team will schedule client or partner meetings during the event. I find that it’s helpful to set up a scheduling system that is accessible to the whole team. This will help avoid double-booking the same customer or other scheduling conflicts. Schedule a brief daily meeting to review the goals for the day and do a postmortem on the previous day. These preparations will optimize results and smooth the way for accurate measurement.
#3 Measure Results
If you have set your goals properly, most results should be easy to measure. There is no gray area when recording the number of lead forms completed. Measuring ROI and ROO take more work.
ROI (Return on Investment)
In simplest terms, ROI is the full cost of the event compared to the benefit of doing the event. Costs include show fees, travel expenses, the time of the team at the event, and any resources expended to make the event possible. Benefits can include sales attributed to the event, new customers (potential sales), and acceleration of the buying process (due to the efficiency of meetings and demonstrations).
You should be able to attribute 100% of new customer sales within a certain time period to the event, but you must calculate incremental business coming from existing customers since they have been influenced by other factors. Even more challenging is determining future potential revenue from the leads garnered at the show. Use historical analysis to predict both how many leads will convert to customers and their lifetime value.
ROO (Return on Objectives)
ROO looks beyond sales and attempts to put a value on things that cannot be easily quantified. Increased brand and product awareness, enhanced customer and partner relationships, industry insights, press exposure, recruitment and more can be desirable and valuable outcomes. Define a way to measure success for each objective and make those findings part of your reporting.
The Final Tally
Once results are analyzed and ROI is calculated, present the findings in a consistent way that allows stakeholders to compare events apples to apples. Compare how your results stack up to expectations. Guided by this information, make decisions about future events that will improve results.
If you do not learn from your experiences, they are wasted.