One of the first things any client will ask of you, when selling exhibition floor space to them is: "What am I getting out of it... Is there any guarantee that your show attracts the right LSM group..." and so on.
Right, let's change the questioning a bit, because in all fairness, if you invest money (as the client) in a stand at some exhibition/trade show, you need to take responsibility to determine your own ROI.
Organisers of trade shows may be able to tell you who, from what company and industry, etc came to the show. They may be able to provide you with a database of visitors' details and a global view of the LSM group during the three or five days of the show - last year - but what exactly happened at your stand?
Basic research at your stand should become more of a given pre-requisite, done by yourself and your colleagues. To be blunt: So what if the whole show attracted people between the ages of 15 - 25 years, so what if 15 000 people came through the entrance, so what if most of the people at the show were from Gauteng and neighbouring regions... all of the mentioned facts and figures may tell you what kind of show it is you're letting yourself in for, but it tells you absolutely nothing about how effective and worth your while, time and money it was for you to have a stand at the show.
Some things you need to know about the people visiting your stand, depending on your market and industry:
1. Who (Name).
2. From what company.
4. Contact details (telephone, fax, email).
5. Type of industry.
6. What are they interested in.
7. Can you send them information on future specials in the future.
8. Can you send them a brochure.
9. Can you set up a meeting there and then.
10. Their available budget for your product.
11. Then there are also other things you might need to know at a consumer show. These will include: gender, age, where did they hear about the show, their opinion of the show, and so on.
With today's available basic software, there is no excuse to punch all of the above - sweet and short answers into a spreadsheet will get your results in a jiffy.
In fact, this kind of SSS (Simple, Sweet and Short) MRD should be completed for any kind of campaign you run. My motto is: when you're going to spend money on something, measure how effective it was (is, will be). There is probably nothing worse than spending the same budget on the same thing twice in a row, with the same "bummer" results (ROI). What's that definition of insanity again: "doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result every time you do it".
The ability to do this kind of basic research should become a serious part of the job spec requirements for any person in any company who is in charge of spending almost any budget for anything. The fact is: it will save you money and it will provide you with invaluable proof when fingers start pointing towards you in the corporate world.