Business Strategy Blocks

7 SMART Objectives to Achieve Your Trade Show Goals

Get ready to level up your trade show game by setting SMART goals to bring structure and laser focus to your planning. SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely, is the ultimate formula for success. Let's dive into 7 examples of SMART objectives to rock your next trade show.

1. Foot Traffic in Your Exhibit

Set a goal for increased year-over-year foot traffic in your exhibit.

Trade Show Goal example:

Increase booth attendance by 30% over last year

Pro Tip:

Attract more traffic to your booth using these techniques to make your trade show booth stand out.

2. Introduce New Products and/or Services

The show floor is a chance to demonstrate something that may not be possible using other marketing channels. Attendees don’t always have time to watch a long demonstration, so engage them with excited staff who demonstrate your product/service in a fun, informational and efficient manner.

Trade Show Goal example:

Conduct X number of product/service demonstrations per day during the trade show.

Pro Tip:

Ensure buying from you is easy. Double check your credit card processing or order acquisition so buyers can simply buy right then.

3. Capturing Leads

Set a specific goal for the number of qualified leads you hope to capture at the show.

Trade Show Goal example:

Schedule 45 sales appointments at the event

Pro Tip:

Ensure your staff is well trained to qualify leads. In this case, quality is more important than quantity because a qualified lead has a much higher chance of becoming a customer, and ultimately that is the goal.

4. Relationship Building

The whole idea of attending a trade show is quality, face-to-face interactions with existing and prospective customers. Set a goal for the number of sales appointments you want to make and be sure to follow up with them after the show.

Trade Show Goal example:

Capture contact information for 12 new vendor prospects during the event and establish relationships within 2-weeks

Pro Tip:

Seating is crucial! If you want to sit down and talk with someone, use lounge or bar furniture for casual conversations and an enclosed meeting space with a conference table and chairs for private meetings. Don’t have enough space in your exhibit space? Most shows offer rooms just off the conventional hall floor that you can rent for meetings such as these.

5. Brand Awareness

One way to identify the impact you made at a trade show is to monitor website traffic during and following the show. The goal is to see a jump in traffic. What kind of jump would you like to see? Twenty percent...thirty percent...fifty percent? Choose a goal and measure your results against it.

Trade Show Goal example:

Achieve X number of social media followers or engagement during the trade show by promoting your brand.

Pro Tip:

Consistency is key! Your brand and look must be the same across all marketing platforms – from your lobby to your website and all the way to the show floor. You want someone to walk off the show floor, go to your website, and feel it is simply another extension of who you are.

6. Recruit New Employees

Set a specific goal for the number of prospective employees you hope to capture at the show.

Trade Show Goal example:

Capture contact information for 15 new talent/employee prospects during the event

Pro Tip:

Select show staff that are engaged, experienced, and a true reflection of what you are looking for in a potential candidate. Like-minded people will feel an instant connection with your team and organization.

7. Set ROI Goals

Trade shows can be costly, with expenses such as exhibit space rental, travel and accommodation, marketing collateral, and exhibit design and production. Therefore, it is crucial to measure the effectiveness of the exhibit and determine if the investment was worth it.

Trade Show Goal examples:

  • Generate a 20% profit margin for the event (using pre-established ROI metrics)
  • Increase sales that come from leads generated at the trade show by 25% compared with last year (within a 6 months sales cycle)
  • Generate a 50 percent increase in website traffic within two weeks post-show

Once your objectives have been identified, choose only one or two and focus. It can be tempting to paint with a broad goals brush but this will only water down your efforts. Effective programs identify key objectives and gear all efforts towards achieving that goal.