Finding Value in Past Learnings

Ann Marie Burke | January 10, 2017

Whoever said that past performance is no indicator of future value did not work in the face-to-face marketing industry!

Whether you have done one show or one thousand, you have a significant opportunity to impact future success by analyzing both what has worked and what has not worked in the past. This is true regardless of your budget or the size of your booth.

How can you ensure you have the data necessary to apply your learnings to improving future relationship marketing opportunities? Consider the following:

  • Make post-show analysis an official part of your planning process. After months of preparation and a flurry of activity on show site, it is easy to put off or overlook this detail. Part of your deliverables for every show should include a review of past learnings.
  • Be honest. This is not intended to be a finger-pointing activity or to assess blame if something did not go as well as expected. Nor should you feel compelled to dwell on the positives. A fair, unbiased assessment is going to provide the level of data that you need to make necessary process improvements.
  • Use your words wisely. As you seek feedback, make sure you look for constructive criticism. Don’t just say something did or did not work – ask why and what might have improved outcomes.
  • Obtain feedback from all key players – both internally and externally. Start with your exhibit marketing partner, adding perceptions from your planning committee and on-site staff. Challenge each team member to suggest improvements that can help you engage more effectively or save time and money next show.
  • Memories fade with time. Each team member should be noting key thoughts throughout the process, not as a “brain dump” after the show is over. Time is of the essence, after all. Debriefing your on-site staff once per day during the show is a great way of catching small details that could easily be forgotten later. As soon as practical after the show is over, probe perspectives from all key players. Whether this takes the form of a written survey or informal discussion is up to you.
  • Compile an analysis and share it with your team. From internal stakeholders to external partners and vendors who keep the process moving along, everyone will do better if they understand what was done, why it was done and what can be done to improve future relationships. Don’t overlook colleagues in other areas who may benefit from your wisdom.

Analyzing your post-show experience may seem daunting on the surface. When you consider the payback in terms of return on investment and the internal respect you will garner for your professionalism in managing such a complex deliverable, there is no reason to put it off. Knowledge is power. Empower your team to succeed by learning from the past.

Ann Marie Burke is a Marketing Communication Strategist with MG Design. She plays a vital role on a number of client teams, regularly imparting her wisdom, leadership, insight and passion for the trade show and event marketing while providing great experiences for the company she serves. Ann Marie helps companies amplify brand experiences well beyond the footprint and timeline of their events through MG’s internal marketing services agency, magnify™.