The first thing to do is see if the show met the projections and goals that were established before you even signed the exhibit contract. If it did, great, sign up again for next year, and continue with your follow up plan. Do not just let those still warm leads, that did not close, go cold. If the show did not meet those goals and projections, then the real work begins.
The first step is to look at where you missed your goals. To do this separate out your goals between the “immediate” revenue generating goals and the lead generating goals. It is important to separate these out as the results of how to proceed are vastly different.
Being brutally honest, were the goals realistic based on the reality of the show versus your estimates for things like traffic, and even the economy. If the show organizers projected an attendance of 2,500 people and there were only 1,250 you can expect a lower number of leads than you set as your goal. Perhaps you estimated that you would have real conversations with 25 people per day and one of the days you only spoke with 20, but 2 of those were conversations that already have an action list for drawing up an order, then perhaps this represents a missed goal, but it is not necessarily a reason not to repeat the show.
In other words, if the show organizers told you they get 5,000 people over a three day show, depending on the industry, type of show and size of your booth, you should have expected to speak with anywhere from 50 to 250 people per day. We have found even at shows with attendance of 90,000 that with a ten foot booth you will average about 250 leads for a good show. If you were counting on seeing 2,500 of those people, and I am not talking about them grabbing a piece of chocolate or the promotional product that you have out in a bowl as they breeze past, but having a conversation in which you were able to qualify them, then your goal was unrealistic. Take a fresh look at the results. Did you gain 250 leads? or even 125 very solid ones? Have some of those leads started converting to your revenue stream? Go back create a set of new metrics, they are no longer goals, but they will be realistic. Now you can see if you met the needs to repeat the show.
On the revenue side of the goals, again, look at where you fell short, did you close some deals but not what you would have hoped? How many are in the pipeline? If you did not meet your revenue goal, and it looks like there is not much left in the pipeline, then this was probably not the show for you and it should not be repeated. If however there is more in the pipeline, but you did not meet your goal, then hold off signing up again for the next one, but keep your options open. It is better to spend a bit more on the booth space than to repeat the process if it was a money loser. Keep in mind your sales cycle as well before you commit one way or the other.
When you review your goals, and look to see if you met them, being brutally honest, does not mean making excuses. If the goals were realistic and fair, and you did not meet them, then do not repeat the show. If you can honestly say that while you did not meet your goals this time round you saw potential and think it will build, by all means, do it one more time.
An important point to remember when doing this evaluation, if you met your revenue goals, it does not matter if you did not meet your other goals. You can still decide not to repeat the show for other reasons, but for most people in most instances, if the revenue goal was met, you repeat the show!
And perhaps, most importantly, if you did not meet your revenue goal, and the whole list has not told you no, in a manner so clear that an infant would understand, then why are you spending time reading blog posts, get out there and SELL, FOLLOW UP!