The ideal trade show visitor

To keep in touch with my English readers, after 3 Dutch posts – I know time goes by fast – at last another article in your language.  To recap the previous posts, and as an introduction to this one, I wrote about the average event visitor of today and the coming years and what they expect from events and trade shows.  How do you cater for happy Generation X’ers and Y’ers or Millenials on your events ?  Topics passed like how content is king and especially Millenials like to have an impact on the actual content and want conferences and workshops to be extremely interactive thanks to the use of modern technology.  Or how Generation X wants to get special prices at events and cares for information delivered by e-mail.  Or how Generation X wants a personalized tour guiding them along the must-see exhibitors to avoid wasting valuable time.  Now that we know who your event’s attendees are, or will be in the near future, and what they want, I want to take you today on a intellectual challenge to determine the answer to this question : “What’s a great visitor ?”.

Ask the right question

I recently did a consulting project on visitor statistics and how certain technology tools can help you to get more statistics.  Of course, being a consultant, I get to ask difficult questions and so my primary one was : “What information do you want to retrieve from the statistics that can drive your decision taking process?”.  The ultimate answer is, and I honestly think it always should be : “Help determine and improve the number of good, quality leads we as an organizer deliver to our exhibitors and partners”.  Because this, in the end, is the raison d’être of any event.

A good visitor or lead obviously is in part an objective measure but also a subjective interpretation.  And when organizing a show there’s different stakeholders involved which will all have different criteria, both objective and subjective to determine the (potential) value of a visitor.  The venue hosting the show will care about spend in the bistro, parking, press shop, …  The organizer will focus on dwelling time, activity level, social media engagement,…

Different stakeholders

In this consulting project we identified 5 direct stakeholders and 1 indirect stakeholder group.  The major direct stakeholder in trade shows of course is the group of exhibitors.  In most cases this group represents the biggest source of revenue and thus the group to deliver ROI to.  This ROI is measured in the number of good leads they get to meet on their booth.

Leads, leads, leads

An interesting lead, we concluded, for an exhibitor would be someone interested in buying one or more of the exhibitor’s products or services, who has the buying financial power, the buying decision power, the intention to make the purchase over a short amount of time, is located in an area the exhibitor covers, with whom the exhibitor already established some sort of relationship (online or offline).  Another interesting visitor to any exhibitor is a (very) good client in terms of relationship duration and value.  Yes, I know, this assumption is based on the idea that the exhibitor’s participation objectives are about sales, but hey, most of the time they are.  And even if direct sales on the show, is not the priority and this exhibitor wants to create brand awareness or launches a new product, even then many of the aforementioned criteria would still hold up.

Not one tool provides all answers

After a quick overview, I found that a set of different tools and the statistics those could produce, together can give you a decent answer to the big question “how many quality leads did we produce ?”.  These tools would be things like, your attendee registration survey, satisfaction surveys, CRM, lead retrieval tool, cash desks,…

Of course you have to tweak the content, usage and the numbers you get out of the different tools involved, in function of the question you’re trying to answer.  But don’t tweak to produce exactly the outcome you had in mind.  The result must reflect the truth, how inconvenient it may be to you as an organizer.  At least then you’ll draw the right conclusions and make the appropriate decisions and changes.

The advantage of answering this crucial question yourself, and not asking it directly to your exhibitors, as most organizers do in their after-show survey, should be that you can prove, more accurately and reliably, your product’s value based on numbers you already had (partially).  This will help you improve sales based on facts.  Look at it from the potential exhibitor’s perspective.  You would never buy e.g. a smartphone based on this user feedback or review : “I bought it because 350 people indicated they might buy it again.”  You would buy based on this review : “I bought it because it has excellent price/quality balance and a stunning full-HD 4″ screen.”  However, when it comes to shows, the former review is more used in prospection and sales than the latter.  A much better pitch would be : “350 exhibitors last year met on average 34 leads a day, which they scored 8,6/10 for quality.  And in your specific industry it was 42 leads a day”.

Success = statistics and data

The key to success in events is statistical data delivering information and knowledge leading to better business decisions and more personalized and focused marketing messages.