Trade Show Data: Why Your Job Is Important to Your Company. Part One.


To all appearances, the world runs on data. The lead story in virtually every marketing publication is about data. In the face-to-face world, data collection that proves the value of the program has always been a challenge. Maybe it doesn’t have to be.

The words “data” and “protection” are used regularly in the same sentence, generally in regard to protecting data from crashes, ransomware, and other cyber threats. But data resulting from trade show metrics offers protection, and for exhibit marketers, data is the key to protecting your exhibit marketing program.

In what has become a classic remark, trade show exhibit managers hear, “But what do we get out of trade shows?” Unfortunately, this is usually not a rhetorical question and is often a prelude to budget-trimming. Or worse, reducing headcount.

You know that you are more than a tactician, but the very nature of trade shows is mysterious to many people in your organization—and let’s face it, asserting the value of what you do can sometimes be daunting.

It is true that measurement at trade shows can be challenging. Measurement requires deciding what to measure, transforming that information into measurable objectives, and then determining how well those objectives were met.

Although related to measurement, data is much more sophisticated. While it is important to prove the value of your program by showing that you achieved what you set out to accomplish, the data that everyone cares about is related to what drives revenue: the customer.

Your company, no doubt, has a CRM system that is the repository of customer and prospect data. In all likelihood, that data is segmented by what makes sense to your company and the sales team. A good CRM system tracks leads through the sales cycle, noting if there has been a conversion or whether the lead needs some nurturing.

If at this point you are saying, “Wait! This is exactly the kind of information we get at trade shows when we track leads!” you understand where we’re going with this conversation. The sources of much of the data in your company’s CRM system are not always crystal clear. Some of it might come from sales people diligently inputting information. But other data might come from purchased lists or other third party sources.

When you think about it, your trade show program is the source of fresh, actionable data. Other than field sales efforts, you are providing an opportunity for a face-to-face experience between your company’s brand and your market. It is an experience that allows you to

(1) collect demographic information,

(2) be privy to customers’ and prospects’ budgets and buying plans, and

(3) rank the viability of the leads you collect.

Moreover, you interact with current prospects and customers, and you hear from them directly. You hear not only their experiences with your company and your brand but also the plans they have for future growth and development. You learn who the decision makers are and who influences their decisions. All of this in addition to delivering your brand promise to these visitors in real time!

The data from your trade show is directly proportional to the success of the customer experience. To get an overview of the interrelatedness of everything, download How to Write a Marketing Plan.

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