Define Your Objectives

Let’s be clear. There are MANY things that you need to think about when you’re organising an exhibition. There’s lots of things you need to get right if you’re to have anything like success. But there’s one thing you need to be absolutely CLEAR about. One thing that ranks above all others. One thing that is fundermental, and yet is surprisingly difficult to articulate and that many fail to properly address…

What are our Objectives?

Why are we doing this? How will we measure our success? If you can’t answer such fundermental questions clearly, concisely and in ways that can be measured at the planning stage then, potentially, you’ve consigned yourself to failure before you’ve really begun.

Not only do you need to set objectives, you need to be SMART about them. SMART is an acronym relevant to objectives that means –

S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Attainable, R – Relevant, T – Time Sensitive


Exhibitions can be costly, not just in terms of financial resources but also human resources. Without well thought out SMART objectives, there’s a good chance your investment will be wasted.

Broad objectives can include:

  • Customer relationships: Sales, confirmations, incremental or additional business, referees, re-vitalise lapsed
  • Channel building/support: Partners, dealers, distributors, agents, support for current agreements/channels
  • Brand building: Awareness, positioning, education, demonstration, expansion to new markets, investors/city
  • Sales generation: Direct sales, leads, database building, registering interest, current and new relationships
  • Product launches: Interest, prototypes, design studies, feedback data acquisition, timing and sales
  • Market research: Awareness, perceptions, surveys and opinion data, targets, budgets and campaign robustness
  • PR: Audience, coverage, profile, methodology, VIP profiling
  • Media relations: Coverage, titles, press, editorial and journalist relations, investors/city
  • It is VERY important, however, to be more specific with your objectives.

For example if your objective is to generate sales, then you can ask questions like:

  • Are you targeting new or existing accounts?
  • How many sales?
  • Leads by order value or number of accounts?
  • Demographic splits?
  • Sales conversions or enquiries?
  • What timescales?

meeting-1020176_640With proper research your goals can be measured and/or evaluated, and can provide a target of success against which future trade show participation can be compared. Write these down, discuss them with colleagues – and agreed.

Here Are Some Examples:

Communication Objectives – Awareness, Perception and Positioning

These are goals that influence identity, awareness and brand positioning.

Specific examples may include:

  • Influencing or affecting perceptions of your company and/or brand
  • Convey a point of difference between your product/brand and that of your competitors
  • Identify and publicise new skill sets, capabilities and solutions
  • Create or reinforce brand awareness
  • Adjust or reinforce brand positioning

Logistical Objectives – What Happens On The Floor

  • Get press or publicity
  • Gather information about your competition
  • Opportunities to speak at a conference track
  • Demonstrate support for your industry
  • Attract attention from attendees who are unfamiliar with your company
  • Promote excitement and activity in the vicinity of your booth
  • Generate desirable traffic flows
  • Demonstrate equipment, products or specific solutions at your booth

Quantifiable Objectives – Measured By Numbers

  • Total number of cool, warm and hot prospects
  • Identify and recruit new employees for the company
  • Total attendance compared to previous years
  • Establish qualified leads
  • Conduct market research such as industry trends and surveys to test perceptions
  • Generate revenue in sales
  • Identify new distributors, suppliers and representatives for your product or service
  • Increase sales with your existing customers
  • Identify and recruit new partners
  • Meet with key decision makers of your current clients

time--blue_640Whatever you decide, it is very important to make sure that everyone involved in organising and manning the stand, fully understands these objectives – otherwise your careful planning and hard work could be wasted.