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Developing The Right SMART Goals For Trade Shows

Trade Show Floor
Before you start planning your trade show goals we recommend using the SMART process.

When it comes to planning for your trade show, developing your goals should be at the top of your to-do list. For most companies, however, not having a good understanding of realistic goals, or worse, skipping this step altogether happens way too often. We always recommend using the SMART process when goal planning.

What are SMART goals?

The SMART process is a way for companies to set and evaluate goals according to a defined set of criteria, and bring consistency and transparency. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Each being a vital part of the overall method of creating goals that can make any event valuable for companies. How you can create SMART goals for your next trade show appearance?

Make it Specific

As you begin to create your goals, remember to focus on the specific trade show and what you want to accomplish from it. Think about verbs and modifiers that define specific actions and narrow down broad segments into more digestible groups.

Ineffective/Poor Specific Goal: I want to reach more potential buyers

SMART Specific Goal: I want to present my product launch to small businesses with 50-100 employees

Make it Measurable

Without measurable goals, you have no way of truly evaluating your investment in the trade show, or of tracking your results over time. Calculating show ROI, improving on your performance, and showing your team members how their work translates into results all require goals with specific metrics attached to them.

Ineffective/Poor Measurable Goal: I want to build brand awareness

SMART Measurable Goal: I want to gain 30% more followers on each of our social media accounts

Make it Achievable

Creating achievable goals can be a bit trickier because you first have to agree upon a definition of what achievable means to your organization. Learn to check if your goals are achievable by detailing each method you plan to use to achieve them. This doesn’t mean you’ll meet all your goals, of course, but this exercise will help you understand if your goals are feasible.

Ineffective/Poor Achievable Goal: I want 2,000 people to see our new product

SMART Achievable Goal: 1,000 people will see our new product, because we will distribute materials to 20% of the 50,000 attendees (based on previous year’s attendance figures) and can expect 10% of those to visit our booth

Make it Relevant

Not all goals are relevant to all situations. You have to ensure that your goals match your circumstances and capabilities if you hope to meet them consistently. Review your data from previous appearances at a specific trade show to see if the types of activities and contacts there are relevant to your goals. If it’s your first time planning for an event, delve deeply into any available information and check with your contacts to see if they have any valuable insights.

Ineffective/Poor Relevant Goal: We will grow account revenue by 20% across all regions after the show

SMART Relevant Goal: Previous data shows that few representatives from other regions attend this midwestern show, so we will focus on increasing account revenue from this market by 30%

Make it Time-bound

As the saying goes, timing is everything. Arriving on the market at the correct moment can mean the difference between a massively successful product launch and a sunk cost. Communicating value to your customers at the precise moment is what encourages them to make a purchasing decision. It’s no different when it comes to setting trade show goals, which is why timeliness is one of the core SMART principles all businesses should follow.

Ineffective/Poor Time-bound Goal: We will make 1,000 new contacts at the show, and 10% will translate to sales

SMART Time-bound Goal: We will follow up with our 1,000 new contacts one week after the show; 30% of those will express further interest, and we will set up sales calls within the month; within two months of the show we will have closed 100 new accounts

Putting it all together

When you devote attention to each phase of the SMART process, you can consistently create actionable goals that have a defined scope and can be easily evaluated at the completion of your show. Creating unique SMART goals for each and every event allows you and your team to get the most out of every trade show.

At Rockway Exhibits + Events, we understand how important it is for you to meet your trade show goals. As a full-service exhibit and event solutions provider, our team listens to your event goals and works to create an exhibit design strategy that enables you to achieve them. Contact us today to learn more about our process and to start planning for your next trade show.

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