Article written by Ann Dosen
We’re entering a new era for trade shows, aren’t we? When all conferences were cancelled not too long ago, we panicked. Our sales plummeted. Then, as the industry and the world adjusted, our sales came back up, slowly but surely. Now, most companies I talk to are either meeting pre-2020 numbers or exceeding them. Even with only a fraction of the trade shows we normally participate in.
So, what are we learning? Our participation in 50+ podiatric trade shows in a year is not only unnecessary – it’s irresponsible!
Now, I know what you are thinking, “Why are Ann & Sarah, the queens of Podiatry Meetings, telling us not to go to podiatry meetings???” OK, slow down, that’s not what I’m saying. Exhibiting at industry conferences is essential, however, gone are the days of exhibiting at every conference – good and bad.
We know now that we can be more selective about which trade shows to invest in, depending on what our goals are. Here’s the key, you must evaluate each show equally and without a bias. To do this, you must have a system in place to calculate the cost and potential return for each opportunity. I like to use a tracker in excel for this, but then again, I’m a data nerd.
Be sure to factor in all the hidden costs associated with exhibiting – payroll, hotel, shipping, baggage fees, uber rides, food and beverage or per diem rates, among others. Then, compare that to what you gained from the show – number of quality leads, number of visitors to your booth, number of attendees at the show, and orders taken at the show.
But wait – there’s more! Going back to Sales 101, we know a sales cycle is generally 90-120 days and consists of several touches or impressions. Knowing this, we must continue to factor in leads and sales following the conference.
Finally, when making a decision to exhibit or not exhibit at a particular show, consider at least 3 years of data. You may notice a cycle start to appear. For example, there’s a podiatry conference that happens in wintertime in the middle of the US that has better success every other year, most likely due to licensing renewal requirements.
So, before you go and completely slash your exhibiting schedule, take the time to put systems and processes in place to effectively evaluate each conference’s success. Then, when you decide not to exhibit at a conference, consider taking a moment to let the conference organizer know why and offer a suggestion for improvement.
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