Icon_money arrowFrom the introduction of new technology to the ever-growing importance of strong lead-retrieval programs, the exhibit industry has rapidly evolved over the past few years. As a custom trade show exhibit house with more than 25 years specializing in full service trade show marketing efforts, Exhibitpro has been on top of the developments every step of the way. And now, we’re sharing our inside knowledge to remove the guesswork for you.

We’ve developed this recurring series where we will dissect each phase of the trade show process – pre-show, at-show and post-show – and offer an in-depth look at how to maximize experience while minimizing investments. Plus, throughout the year, we’ll share Exhibitpro’s proven tips and solutions that you can use as a checklist for future planning.

We begin our focus by reviewing the two most important – and most valuable – opportunities that can dramatically impact results and budgets across the entire trade show experience: strategy and auditing.

Strategy Matters

You’ve probably heard it before – success comes from having a well-rounded strategy. That’s no different when it comes to your exhibit experience. One of the most important aspects of a successful trade show experience is a well thought-out strategy that ensures you are set up to accomplish your objectives. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most commonly skipped steps.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or you are simply looking to repurpose an existing booth, either way, you still need a strategy. That’s because your trade show strategy should consider far more than just your at-show presence. From employee engagement to pre-show marketing to post-show lead retrieval, your strategy should consider every possible aspect of a successful program to make sure you have the right plans to meet your needs. Here are our top tips for ensuring your trade show experience begins with the right strategic approach:

  • Identify the right exhibit house partner. Find an experienced partner who is as equally invested in your success as you are – and make them an extension of your team. Share information, involve them in discussions, and allow them to be immersed in your brand.
  • Start with a discovery phase. Begin the process with a discovery phase that includes all key stakeholders, including your exhibit partner. This fact-finding session allows all internal stakeholders to share thoughts, goals, questions, and concerns – get it all on the table! This session also allows your exhibit company to listen for key information and potential red flags that may come into play later in the process.
  • Define benchmarks for success. The discovery phase should include identifying what success looks like for the organization. A great exhibit partner will use a discovery phase to listen to your goals and challenges, identify opportunities pursuant to your goals, collaborate to establish benchmarks for success, and deliver a well-rounded strategy that best fits your needs from pre-show planning through post-show follow up.

Once the strategy is in place, it’s important that you stay disciplined and focused on execution. In this phase, it can be easy to get distracted with shiny objects and new technology that may add unnecessary costs. Remember that you’ve already asked questions, qualified needs, and defined a strategy based on your objectives. In the case where changes need to be considered, bring your exhibit company into the discussion. They can provide objective feedback on how the potential changes will impact the holistic plan (good and bad), as well as provide an expert point-of-view on whether the investment is beneficial.

Audit. Audit. Audit:

One of the most important (if not the most important) aspects of maximizing your experience is to use a trusted source to audit your show bill. By conducting an audit with a trusted source, such as an experienced exhibit company, you’ll likely uncover incremental funds that are due back to you after the show has ended. Secondarily, the audit will also provide you with greater understanding of the total trade show experience, as well as better awareness of budget considerations for future planning efforts.

Just how important is a post-show audit?
A post-show audit of the final bill can uncover thousands of dollars that are due back to you after the show. These funds can be a result of everything from mistakes to incorrect billings, or even efficiencies in show execution. In some cases where Exhibitpro has been contracted to provide third-party audit services for clients, we have identified funds due back that more than covered the cost of the exhibit house services. If you are looking for ways to maximize your trade show experience and minimize your costs, we cannot stress enough the importance of this step.

Need help auditing your next show bill? Exhibitpro is here to help. With more than 25 years of experience, we have the expertise to help maximize your investment – and your returns. We provide auditing services for clients whose tradeshows we manage, and also for clients looking for neutral, third party services. Let’s connect to discuss your needs.

What’s Next in Budget Matters?

We’ll explore these topics (and many more) in greater detail when we review the pre-show and post-show phases of this series. Stay tuned for our next Budget Matters feature in June where we take an in-depth look at ways to maximize the pre-show phase.

Something specific you want us to cover? Email or connect with us on our social media pages — Facebook and Twitter (or tweet directly @TheExhibitpro – using #GiveMeTheExhibitingEdge).