Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Measurement Tip 31

When all is said and done, what is the single most important thing to measure?

As I wind down a great career helping people like you get the most from marketing events, I find the most important measure for me personally is “Did I make a difference?”  This question is also entirely relevant for you and for your program today.

As I am fond of saying, “Only action delivers ROI.  No action, no ROI.”  So the fruit of my effort can be summed up quite simply, “Did anyone do anything different as a result?"  As you can see, action and change are somewhat synonymous. I have been fortunate that many students and readers have shared with me how they changed their program and their results acting upon the suggestions I gave. I hope you have benefited as well.

And, so it is for you, your program and ultimately your career.  The true measures of success are the specific changes that result from your efforts and your program.  Include accomplishments with customers, prospects, partners, your own team and countless others. 

This is the last measurement tip. I want to thank MC2, and my friends Rob Murphy and Caroline Meyers for the opportunity to share my ideas and thoughts with you through "eConnections Digest" over the past three years.  I sincerely hope you found something to use in your plans and activities that made a difference. I wish you all the best!

Ed Jones

Friday, October 25, 2013

Measurement Tip 30

Gathering the Right Information at Trade Shows and Events

Most often show managers leave a trade show or event with what they consider to be a substantial amount of leads. However, once these contacts are properly formatted into a leads database, it becomes clear that event staff neglected to capture key pieces of information from the potential prospect or lead.
Information such as time-frame of purchase intent, need for a follow-up or even the prospect’s specific interest is almost always not properly documented and leaves the sales team with very little to follow-up with after a show.

Take for example, a client of ours that documented close to 300 leads at a trade show and was initially satisfied with this result. However, once the information was processed in a database it was clear that only 40% of the prospects could be deemed a “qualified” lead. Most lead entries in the client’s database had little to no additional information to pass on to the sales team for targeted follow-up.

If show managers streamline the process by which they capture leads information at a trade show or event by using a well thought-out lead documentation system and implore the value of capturing the information to event staff through pre-show training, then they can produce more promising prospect information.

Remember, training exhibit staff on the value of documenting key customer or prospect information is a process that takes time. Show managers must slowly create this “culture” shift within the organization and find an approach that works the best for their team.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Measurement Tip 29

Staff surveys after every event define event effectiveness and gently remind the staff of their responsibilities!

Staff and Stakeholder surveys are one of the most valuable measurements of event effectiveness. They provide "internal customer feedback" on your events. This feedback should be a cornerstone for any well run event marketing program.

These surveys serve to measure the perception of event marketing effectiveness among those who worked or funded the event. Often those who staff an event represent the sales function of the business. A post-event survey provides the staff with the opportunity to report their perspectives on the quantity and quality of participants, how the company compared to the competition, documentation of high-ranking guests and other important performance assessments. As a bonus, a staff survey can do much more! A well designed survey reminds and reinforces for the staff what they were/ are expected to deliver and asks them to rate themselves against these expectations. Many of our clients have witnessed notable organizational change through the use of these types of surveys.

Staff and Stakeholder surveys are especially useful for companies with multiple event managers, spread across geographies or divisions. Event managers can filter their own responses from the aggregate data for a division or geo level review of effectiveness at any event. Event managers typically have little time for anything extra. Fortunately a well designed staff and stakeholder survey can be administered by simply sending an email to the staff and then wait for the results to arrive in their inbox. The results for all measured events may be aggregated into quarterly and annual performance summaries for review and program adjustment.

Performance reviews allows the event managers to gather and react to event staff suggestions for improvement and new tactics for future shows. For example, you an event manager may have identified and event that should be cut or significantly downsized. When the staff clearly indicate that an event should be reconsidered, people take notice. It’s hard to argue with rock-solid responses from the company employees who witnessed the action first hand and know the value derived from participation.

Ed Jones

Constellation Communication Corp. provides essential services to optimize event impact and ROI on all types of events, including trade shows, conferences and hybrid events.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Measurement Tip 28

10 Steps to Better Visitor Attraction, Experience and Commitment for Increased ROI at Trade Shows and Market Events

I liken many companies I see at trade shows to a fisherman who simply hopes a specific species of fish will jump right into his or her boat!  It is a pretty unlikely scenario.

The step most critical to success in any marketing event is to attract enough people to your booth or space who can personally increase your revenue or reduce your cost. If the right people appear, they must also be properly engaged and quickly qualified so they are not lost among less important guests.  It is important that the staff concentrate their efforts on priority guests. If a large percentage of your guests are targeted, engaged and properly managed, you will have a great show. If the percentage is small, your results will be less than desirable.

Put yourself to the test and see how many of these steps you take as an exhibitor, or perhaps, observe as a visitor to an exhibit experience: (Check the ones you practice or observe regularly)

___ 1) Define the priority targets addressable at the event, by product set
___ 2) Attract them with targeted pre- and at event promotion and most especially through personal invitation by your executives and sales team
___ 3) Train the staff to engage each visitor and quickly separate the targets from the non- targets
___ 4) Have a specific engagement plan for each type of targeted individual
___ 5) Convey visitor specific, high priority information that is relevant to the needs and desired benefits of each targeted visitor set
___ 6) Set pre- determined commitment goals for each targeted visitor set (specific steps and activities that are the result of the exhibit interaction).
___ 7) Ensure that the sales team agrees that the commitment goals are in the company sales cycle for that product set
___ 8) Have a foolproof system in place to record the commitments and define what information is required (hint: gather enough to enable an effective follow-up)
___ 9) Provide motivation and support for the visitor who has committed to follow-through with you after the event.  Ensure adequate post-event communications.
___ 10) Pack your event with as many pre-scheduled meetings as possible with high priority customers, prospects, suppliers, partners and others who can improve your profitability in some way

How many did you check?  

There are few things that will increase your results and ROI at marketing events more than following these steps. It takes planning and the participation of your executives, sales team and event staff.  It also requires training.  When done well the results will speak for themselves and you will be seen not only as an event manager, but also as a manager of the business.

Ed Jones

If you would like to learn more about Constellation Communication's event measurement services, please contact us directly at +1.770.391.0015 or admin@constellationcc.com

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Measurement Tip 27

“Mending the Message”
To Improve Event ROI!

Next time you take a stroll through a trade show exhibit hall, ask yourself, “Can I tell what these companies do by looking at their exhibits?”  Better yet, “What is their primary selling proposition?”  And, “Can I spot a clear message that is strong enough to compel a prospect to actually enter their booth?”

Chances are you will end up more baffled than educated about exhibitors’ offerings.  In fact, the sales message — that clear and distinctive clarion call to action, one that will compel prospects to wake up and take notice — will too often be buried under the “hip” graphics, clever but vague ad themes, and space-age superstructures.  All the money spent on pre-mailers, plasma screens, display graphics and other pyrotechnics actually served to decrease the ROI if the prospect didn’t get the right message.

A good message must be built into the trade show or event strategy from the start.  Spending more time on crafting the message upfront—getting total buy-in from top management, marketing and sales, those who will be working the booth, plus all copywriters, designers, agencies and studios involved in strategy implementation—can reap significant rewards come show time.

A good exhibit floor message must answer one question—What (the magic message) do I need to tell you (the prospect) to get you to do (desired behavior) what I want you to do (marketing objective)?   It is equally important that the message encourage a behavior on the part of the prospect that is measurable, so that you can quantitatively evaluate your event ROI.  Branding is important, but if your display, pre-show marketing, advertising and at-show activities only create fuzzy, warm feelings about your company, they’re not working as hard as they should for you.  

 The Culprits 
Most companies begin the event planning process with all the right intentions (although it is amazing how many companies do not even go to the trouble of preparing a written message platform).  Nevertheless, these good intentions often break down during implementation, usually as the result of the pragmatic everyday pressures of the business world, resulting in numerous “disconnects” in the execution process.  How many times have you shown your “finished” display to management the week before the show and ended up scrambling at the eleventh hour to make last minute changes, with the final product ending up as a sorry compromise?  Failure to get management buy-in upfront invariably leads to a botched, inefficient process.  Considerable angst can be avoided by getting approval on a written message platform and a few rough sketches early on in the process.

Other culprits that prevent the intended strategy from being realized include emphasizing design over content. “Design by committee” too often results in a water-downed compromised approach, failure to fully brief copywriters, designers, studios and agencies on the precise message to be communicated. This also results in failure to adapt messages to different industries and shows, trying to load too many messages into an event, and—most importantly—an “inward looking” perspective that fails to take into consideration the customer’s mindset. (Boastful, self-serving clich├ęs, such as “best-in-breed,” “state-of-the art,” “leading-edge technology,” or “total solution” are indicators of narcissistic messages.  A good event message should explicitly state how your company solves the prospect’s business problem better, cheaper and/or faster.)

The Solution
How do you avoid wimpy messages and all the costly false starts, revisions, and organizational angst that are all too common in the event planning process?  Here are a few tips:

1.         Appoint a “Keeper of the Message”

Someone who is responsible for crafting and riding herd over the message throughout the process with management and everyone involved in the implementation process.

2.         Develop a work-flow process map.

Process is key. There’s a time for research and input, a time for planning, a time for reviews and approvals and a time for implementation.  Appropriate personnel need to be involved at the appropriate times.  Lay it all out for everyone to see and stick to it.

3.         Put together a market/message matrix.

The matrix should include prospects by industry and job responsibility down one side and the messages that will compel them to your company along the top row.  The matrix should take into consideration the varying needs of different target market segments for each and every event, including where the prospect is in the commercial persuasion process (e.g., “unaware” versus “knowledgeable and in the market”). What do you need to tell purchasing agents in the healthcare industry to take notice?  How can you recraft the message to impress CEOs in the same industry?  What is the message that will create a buzz about your company among VPs of manufacturing in the automotive business?  Sit down with your marketing and sales teams, work through the message matrix, and use it when you put together your annual trade show strategy.

 4.        Incorporate customer input.

Don’t assume you know what will turn on the customer. Do some market research.  Include a good customer in the planning and review process.  Show him a sketch of a pre-mailer or display and get his reaction.  Do some “reverse-engineering” of the commercial persuasion process.  Sit down with a few customers (not prospects) and have them retrace for you the various steps, including messages that they heard during the sales process that ultimately led them to your company.

5.         Write-up message platforms for each event.

Put it in writing.  What’s the dominant compelling message (your “elevator pitch”) that the pre-mailers, display, and at-show activities should deliver verbally and graphically?  What are the key subpoints you want those working the booth to emphasize?  What do you say when the prospects mentions Competitor X?  Do you have organizational-wide buy-in to responses to the 20 or so most challenging questions prospects are likely to ask? Hold an internal workshop if you need to hammer out your key messages and responses, put everything in writing, and distribute the document (password protected) to everyone involved in the process, from the CEO to the display house.

6.         Build-in quantitative measurement.  

Measurement forces everyone in the process to think and not be satisfied with lazy messaging (such as “Tomorrow’s Technology Today” and other tired bromides).  Every aspect of an event can and should be measured. 

7.         Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Event marketing remains more of an art than a science.  If you aren’t quite sure what message is going to bowl over a prospect, try two.  Break your mailing list in two, send different variations of your material and see what version delivers the best results.  Design your display so that you can easily change out messages or graphics and see which version attracts more visitors to your booth.  Is it, for example, a back wall with beauty shots of the prospect’s industry, or hard numbers that underscore the cost-savings you can generate for customers?

8.              Employ the concept of “Message Hierarchy.”

It is okay to put your company identity at the top, in bright neon if you wish!  Let everyone know where you are.  However, the targeted individuals are who you seek, so be sure the next most prominent signage is devoted to the “What’s In It For Me?” for your targets.  This allows the visitors you want to see to self-select based upon interest, applicability and need for your offerings. Ten feet off of the floor should be the equivalent of “Street Signs” that identify what is available for your visitors to see, learn or experience.  Finally, the features, benefits and details should be portrayed at the desktop and back wall level.

9.              Ensure consistency between the corporate advertising and PR plans during the time frame of your event. 

Nothing can undo a successful ad or PR campaign, or a successful event marketing activity like disconnected if not contradictory messages.  Your first step in developing the written message plan should be with the corporate and marketing communications folks in your company.

10.           Ask customers for feedback on your messaging after the event.

What resonated and what didn’t?   What was the major learning point of value they derived from their visit?  Are they more inclined to buy as a result of being at your event? And if so, how much will they spend?  As part of your post-event measurement, evaluate your messaging and you will be able to make focused improvements at every subsequent event.

Before you call in the event agency or invest in a new high-tech exhibit, you might consider spending a bit more time with good-old pencil and paper and a flip chart or two. Work through your message strategy with your marketing team before you start spitting out tactical plans.  It will pay big dividends in your event ROI.

#    #    #

Here is a little test that might surprise you.  Choose which of the two messages is the best (Don’t fudge by looking ahead!)

The World’s First “PC” based Scanning-Electron Microscope!

  • Leading-edge solution
  • Superior Interface
  • Best-in-breed tracking software
  • Ease-of-use


Automated Micro-Particle Analysis for
Pharmaceutical Production Powders Under 10 microns

  • Meets FDA 1098
  • Approved for inhalable powders
  • 100x faster than laser techniques


“A” is an example of a typical vague, inward-looking message that will do little to attract or persuade prospects or customers... 

“B” - While this message may lack “creativity,” it explained what the company/ product did (without even mentioning the product!) indicated a speed improvement of 100x, and contained the key buzzwords that would stop targeted prospects dead in their tracks.

Hint - The buzzwords prospects use are gold - Your buzzwords are lead.

Effective messaging is the one of the most important parts of your event marketing plan and essential to attracting and persuading your targeted audience to act upon your behalf. 

 Ed Jones
President, Constellation Communication 

 For help developing your event's creative or strategic brief, please contact Constellation Communication at 770.391.0015 or email inquiry@constellationcc.com