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With ROI, Conversations Come First

Chasing A New End Game

Music fades and dry ice disperses. Meetings come to an end and laptops are stowed. But when the show is over, how can you measure ROI with any real credibility? Calculating ROI has been a conundrum for the B2B live events and trade show sector for decades. The advertising and digital worlds have long had benchmark metrics to justify their role in the marketing mix. Indeed, with digital, every click and eye ball is metric. When it comes to live communications, we have to put a whole new end-game front of mind.

Don’t measure for measure’s sake

Of course, measuring ROI is only as complicated – and as insightful – as the methods we use. In the past we set simple goals, made simple measurements and congratulated ourselves on straightforward results. If your old school goals are measuring footfall and the number of business cards collected then your results will be of limited use. In any case, most business cards travel quickly from pocket to bag to bin. Even the post-event survey can be sullied and skewed by all your other touch points around and beyond the show.

Put conversations at the crux

It’s time to think again. Time to think instead about things like the diversity of contacts you made. Is your brand forging the diverse relationships it needs in a world predicated on connected eco-systems? Are you provoking conversations, not just likes and shares? Much of the social buzz can say as much about the person’s desire to forge their own online persona, as to acknowledge your business and move its agenda forward. Shares and likes can be hollow metrics. Most importantly, are you creating inspiring, engaging conversations around relevant business topics for your sector? The substance of the conversations certainly merits analysis.

Make the mix magic

All the other goals are an important part of the mix. Increased brand awareness, sales, leads, product launches, media coverage, educating customers, web traffic, social amplification and engaging influencers all have their place in the ROI calculation. But to get ahead in the new end game, start measuring those powerful conversations early.

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