Setting Exhibition & Event Objectives
When attending an exhibition or trade show it is important to set objectives beforehand, this is because you and your staff need to have a clear idea of what the aim of the exhibition is and how to achieve that. Going to an exhibition without objectives is like going in blind, what do you want to get out of it? Why are you actually there? Don’t just go to an exhibition “because we go every year”.
Not only do you need to set objectives, you need to be SMART about them. SMART is an acronym relevant to objectives that means –
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Relevant
T - Time Sensitive
Exhibitions can be costly, not just in terms of financial resources but also human resources. Without well thought out SMART objectives, there’s a good chance your investment could be wasted.
How do you set SMART objectives?
Before you start to plan your SMART objectives you have to differentiate between aims and goals and objectives. Aims and goals generally refer to your aspirations whereas objectives are a plan of action.
When writing your SMART objectives we recommend to start with the Specific, Measurable and Time-Sensitive criteria and then when that is complete, use them to figure out whether the objective is both attainable and relevant. It is also important to include strong verbs and calls to action when writing your objectives, here’s a list of words to use that are relevant to Exhibition objectives: Establish, Enhance, Promote, Introduce, Generate, Increase, Gather, Demonstrate and Attract.
To set a ‘Specific’ objective you have to answer the five W’s which are, WHO is involved? WHAT do I want to accomplish? WHERE will you work towards the objective? WHEN will I aim to achieve it? WHY am I setting this particular objective?
A ‘Measurable’ objective helps you to track your progress towards the overall objective, questions to ask yourself to help you set a measurable objective would be – How much? Or How Many?
‘Attainable’ is something that is specific to you and your business, don’t set an objective that you know is out of reach to you because it won’t be achieved. If you want to achieve your goals, then plan wisely and set something that is within reach.
A ‘Relevant’ objective is important to your business because if it’s not relevant then it is likely not benefitting your business in any way. For example, at the exhibition I may set an objective of doing “10 star jumps in a minute” this is specific, measurable, attainable and time sensitive, but it’s definitely not relevant to the exhibition and so is not benefitting the business!
Finally a ‘Time Sensitive’ objective should simply be set within a time frame. Without a time frame there is no sense of urgency and you’ll more than likely just be putting off completing it.
Exhibition SMART Objective Examples
Here are a few examples of objectives for exhibitions to help give you some inspiration for your own and how to accomplish them.
- Establish 25 new business leads by the end of the exhibition.
This is accomplished by talking to visitors at your exhibition stand. Try to collect as much information as you can about them such as their name, company, email address and telephone number.
- Generate £5,000 revenue in sales as a result of the exhibition by a set date.
Revenue is generally not generated from the exhibition directly but rather by following up on leads that you made at the exhibition, this can be measured as you follow up on the leads if they then convert into a sale.
- Identify and recruit one new employee for the company as a result of the exhibition by a set date.
While exhibiting take note of people who visit the stand that seem like they are knowledgeable and would fit in well with your business, take their contact details and try to arrange an interview if they are interested.
- Meet with 5 key decision makers in my industry by the end of the exhibition.
The best way to go about meeting with key decision makers would be to schedule a meeting with them at the exhibition. The decision makers will, more often than not, be wandering the exhibition hall themselves and mingling with others so if you want their undivided attention then schedule to meet them.
- Increase sales with our existing customers by 10% as a result of the exhibition by a set date.
One of the best ways to do this is to let your existing customers know you’re going to be at the exhibition. You should have an email list of all your customers, it can’t hurt to send out a short email letting them know where you’ll be and inviting them to join you.
- Follow up on all of the business leads generated at the exhibition by a set date.
To follow up on leads simply collate all the contact information you’ve collected at the exhibition and within a set timescale after the exhibition take time to call everyone, thank them for visiting your stand and find out how your business can help them.
Evaluate After the Exhibition
How did the trade show go? Did I achieve the SMART objectives I set? These are some of the questions you should be asking. After the exhibition has finished don’t just leave it at that, spend some time along with the employees that attended evaluating the results of your hard work, did you gain as many business leads as you’d hoped?
If you achieved your objectives – great! Set more ambitious objectives next time (but still attainable of course). If you missed your goal don’t worry, evaluate what you think went wrong and work out a way to improve upon that. Perhaps set something that is more easily attainable or consider doing something different. If you’re going to five exhibitions a year for example, cut that down to one or two and spend the money you save putting more effort into a more impressive exhibition. Chances are you won’t do everything perfectly the first time so try different things out to see what works for you and your business.
At XL Displays we are experts in exhibition stands and portable display equipment. For advice and more information on how we can help you prepare for your next event please Contact Us or call us on 01733 511030.