Setting exhibition and event objectives

A notebook with a list labelled my goals

Before deciding which event to attend, you need to be clear on why you're attending, what you hope to achieve and how you will know if you have succeeded. Here's our guide to setting objectives when you visit a trade show, exhibition or business event

Many people attend business shows with good intentions, aiming to meet people, do business and generate sales. But often their objectives are too vague, and either non-measurable or unrealistic.

By setting clear objectives, you can maximise your return from the trade shows you attend.

Types of business exhibition objectives

Broadly, objectives can include the following - you may also have your own bespoke objectives.

Sales generation

Sales objectives may include:

  • making new direct sales;
  • generating qualified leads;
  • building your contact list;
  • registering interest in new/future products.

Customer relationships

You may want to improve customer relationships by:

  • securing repeat business;
  • upselling for increased or additional business;
  • securing customer agreement to act as references;
  • winning back lapsed clients.

Brand building

Exhibitions and events can help you:

  • improve brand awareness;
  • change your brand positioning;
  • demonstrate your product;
  • expand to new markets;
  • reach new investors.

Product launches

If you're launching a new product, look at:

  • raising awareness and interest;
  • demonstrating prototypes;
  • gaining customer opinions and feedback.

Market research

Market research activities you can carry out at a business show include:

  • carrying out surveys;
  • assessing the competition
  • setting sales targets and budgets;
  • campaign testing.

Channel building/support

Business events may provide opportunities for:

  • reaching new partners;
  • meeting dealers, distributors or agents;
  • shoring up support for current agreements/channels.

Media relations

Depending on the event, you might want to:

Making business event objectives work for you

Once you've set a few objectives for your exhibition or event, it is important to be specific with them. For example, if your aim is to generate sales, you can ask questions like:

  • Are we targeting new or existing accounts?
  • How many sales are we aiming to make?
  • How does the event audience match our target market?
  • Are we looking for sales conversions or enquiries at the event?
  • What are our timescales?

Setting SMART objectives - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely - will help you identify which events are most likely to help you achieve your aims.

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