Whether you’re hosting or attending a conference or tradeshow it’s likely that your organization commonly questions the monetary and time-investment spent on these live events. Year-after-year, executive, sales and marketing leaders weigh the assumptive value of traveling to and participating in conferences and tradeshows without having the data to support these initiatives.
Benchmarking conference and tradeshow activities is tricky business. As an extension of your sales and marketing analytics, event data is trackable if and when the right questions are asked, metrics are defined, and impact is recorded. These metrics are not always directly quantifiable which is why some organizations choose to skip this step for their individual events.
With a little bit of sweat equity, you can uncover revenue-generating opportunities, increase operational efficiencies and improve gaps in your event management process by tracking data at the event-level. From the event management level, if you are hosting a conference or tradeshow, you can track your organization’s events by venue, status, state, and country. You can also track reconciled programs, cost savings, liabilities, program overhead and more.
For deeper insight into tracking conference activities as an attendee, we asked one of our data partners, Lodestone Logic, to share some of the key concepts and questions they use to craft and build custom data analytics for their top clients. “There are many tiered goals that track impact holistically, taking into account the different levels of opportunity that occur during an event,” said Kristin Eilenberg, CEO at Lodestone Logic, “you must consider the human element and the soft touches that occur during live events.”
The following are key concepts and considerations provided by Lodestone Logic.
Crafting Solutions Based on Experiences
The key concept to understand is that one conference contains a myriad of individual experiences that are different to each participant. Each general session, breakfast, breakout, supplier meetings, and exhibition provide a distinctly different experience that can have an effect on business relationships at every level of an organization.
Sales Team Members—Each conference contains 4-5 key touchpoints for attending clients or prospects. If you are a part of the exhibit, you may hope that people simply stop by and say hello but it is more opportunistic to meet with a client or prospect at breakfast to discuss the conference or ask them to sit with you during a general session in order to learn more about their needs. As a sales member, you must be a contributing member of the conversation. So, the question becomes, how do you attribute these activities to sales? Hopefully, you’ve identified your sales cycles and know who in attendance you should connect to close already warm leads and whose relationships have already been built since it is unlikely that a new opportunity will walk off of the street, into the event and purchase from you immediately. Conference impact here is about touchpoints, building relationships, and trust.
Taking the time to ask—and answer—the right Questions
Defining your intent for attending a conference or tradeshow quickly sets an expectation that can be considered a data marker for your next event. Consider answering a few of the following questions:
- Do you want to attend for learning and professional development?
- Do you have the opportunity to present information about your product or use cases to inform and teach other attendees at the event?
- Should the business sponsor the event? Why?
- Should the business exhibit at the event? Why?
- What specific business Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) do you think that this event will help the business to accomplish.
- Are your customers or business partners already participating in the event?
- Are there other events that the business will need to organize like customer activities, advisory boards, or partner meetings?
- Given these opportunities, how much new business revenue will be generated from new or existing customers?
- What sessions are focused on topics that are relevant to my business?
- Which exhibitor booths should be visited during the event?
- What are the key questions that I should get answered for evaluating new technologies?
- What potential partners/prospects/clients might we meet?
Some of these answers seem obvious, which is why many sales and marketing teams do not fully articulate and define the expectations of each event. If unanswered, how to do you track impact? This helps us define the individual experience of your sales team and the attendees above and beyond the cost of logistics. This 30-minute exercise can swiftly add value to each of your conference and tradeshow activities. It is your responsibility as an attendee to represent your organization and share opportunities upon return.
Logical Costs & Considerations
Hard costs are much easier to define such as sponsorship and exhibit costs, printed marketing materials, shipping and people costs such as time away from the office, travel and more. These hardline costs should be tracked individually as line items associated with each event. The profit margin is much easier to calculate. Next, work back from the sale and define the assumptive cost of interactions. Soft touches are harder to define but take a moment to set a line for comparison even if that simply means creating an educated value you may later adjust.
Let’s say, on average, it takes two-three emails, two face-to-face meetings, and one demo to close a deal. That deal is worth $500. You can then disseminate the costs of each interaction, removing hard costs. This may mean those three emails are worth $50 each, the meetings, $100 and the demo, $200. This allows you to track prospect sale probability. Continue to disseminate backward in marketing and event activities.
Mathematical Marketing & Spend Fit Analysis
By breaking down conference ROI by opportunity you can uncover a lot of data. Taking into account your company’s budget versus the reality of available connections you can make, then you can truly decide what conference or tradeshow is the best bang for your buck. Some hard goals are not as realistic in this space, and investments need to be tiered and based on past achievements.
Curious about what type of data you can track and leverage for your conferences, tradeshow, and events? Visit https://www.meetings-incentives.com/enterprise-solutions/business-intelligence-data/ or call 262-835-3553 and ask to speak to a business intelligence and data expert to learn more.
About our partner:
Lodestone Logic, founded in 2010, is a niche agency that helps businesses with their event and trade show strategies and execution. Our clients include big brands, non-profit and trade organizations, governments, and academic institutions. We partner with agencies and meeting and event planning organizations.