How To Set Your Exhibition’s Objectives

Reno Macri

Exhibition marketing is an extremely popular strategy, but preparation is essential. In addition to enhancing your brand, choosing between the different types of exhibition stands and deciding which staff members will be involved, one of the most crucial parts of the planning phase is to establish your objectives.

This article will guide you through the process in stages so you can set objectives that will improve your chances of success, make your exhibition more focused and allow you to evaluate it afterwards.

1. Set some broad aims
It is surprisingly easy to lose sight of what you are actually hoping to achieve from your exhibition marketing strategy, especially if you are in the habit of attending the same trade shows every year. Therefore, to make your exhibition more focused, a sensible starting point is to come up with a list of some broad aims.

Here, you need to ask yourself why you are attending the specific exhibition or trade show in question, and what you are hoping to get out of it in the end. In the vast majority of cases, you will be hoping to get more than one benefit from your exhibition, so do not be afraid to set multiple aims.

For example, you might wish to generate more sales, or you might want to increase awareness of a new product. Alternatively, your goals may be based around brand positioning, attracting press attention, generating leads or forming new relationships with suppliers, distributors or other potential partners.

2. Turn your broad aims into clear objectives
Once you have your broad aims in place, you need to dig a little deeper and be more specific. Not only will this will make it easier for you to assess your return on investment and pinpoint what success looks like, it will also help you steer your exhibition design toward achieving your goals.
The best way to make your aims more specific is to ask yourself some questions about the aim itself, paying particular attention to what success looks like. During this stage, you also need to make your aims into measurable objectives. If your aim is to generate leads, how many overall leads are you targeting? How many qualified leads?

“Setting objectives is crucial if you want to succeed at an exhibition,” says Laura Moody, managing director of Nomadic Display, writing for Fresh Business Thinking. “How else will you be able to measure whether you've got the number of sales leads you wanted [or] made new customer contacts?”

3. Make sure your objectives are SMART
Finally, after coming up with your objectives, you need to test them to make sure they are SMART. This is an acronym that many businesses use to evaluate their own objectives, in order to make sure they are sensible, credible and useful. The acronym breaks down as follows:

  • Specific – The objectives must target a specific aspect of your business for improvement.
  • Measurable – Your objectives should be quantifiable. How many leads? How much media exposure?
  • Attainable – All objectives should be realistic and within reach.
  • Relevant – It is important to make sure all objectives have relevance to your business.
  • Time-related – There should be a clear time frame for completing the objectives.

It is not enough to tick the majority of these boxes. Your exhibition objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-related. If they are, you are ready to exhibit. Afterwards, you can compare these objectives to your results in order to assess how effective or successful your exhibition actually was.

Reno Macri is a founder and director of the exhibition company Enigma Visual Solutions, specializing in exhibition services, retail designs, graphic productions, signage systems, custom exhibition stands, event branding, conference set design and much more. He specializes in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.