Ladies and gentlemen! How are you? I’m great so let’s get into the business of the week. The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) 2016 is upon us and some of you are going to attend I am sure. I have never been to the ZITF business exhibition. The reason is because I do not have a reason to go there, yet. It seems though that many companies participate at the ZITF business exhibition with their main reason being ‘we go there because we should’, and that’s it. Is that reason valid enough to justify the expenses that a company incurs in participating at the ZITF business exhibition? I doubt that very much. Even birds have a purpose when they fly south once a year to go and breed or do whatever they do. A company should participate in a business exhibition with a strategy and with goals that will lead to there being a return on the investment made in the business exhibition. When I talk to various individuals who have participated in the business exhibition it seems like they do not have a plan to go there and find business leads, to make sales, to improve their image or anything of the sort. They go there simply to waste their time. Be prepared for the truth because it’s no holds barred on this one, wasting money is not funny.
1) You Have Not Conducted Due Diligence on ZITF 2016
One of the critical aspects of any strategy is conducting due diligence. Due diligence is the research and analysis of a company or organisation done in preparation for a business transaction (as a corporate merger or purchase of securities) (merriam-webster.com). There are costs that are involved in participating at the ZITF business exhibition and as such you have to conduct some research on the business exhibition itself to see if participating will be worth your while.
The first port of call would be to contact the business exhibition coordinators themselves and ask for hard evidence of how past exhibitors have benefited from participating in the business exhibition. Get concrete figures if possible. If such information does not exist it means that no one is actually tracking this aspect, this should be a cause for concern and something you should consider before parting with your dollars. You can then tick the benefits off against what you are looking for and immediately get a picture of whether or not the event is worth your while.
It might be too late to do this but you could have attended ZITF 2015 as one of the 45000 none business visitors. The idea would have been to analyse various elements. You could have stalked some visitors seeing how they move from (competitor) stand to stand, shadowing them so as to hear the types of questions that they ask and so on. The questions that they ask will tell you whether or not benefits are actually gained from the event e.g. sales leads. Analyse and see if any sales are being made. If they are not being made decide if a different marketing strategy can create sales where your competition has failed. You can also then decide that the ZITF is not suitable for making sales at all and then save yourself the time and energy of participating in the event.
Check out the list of exhibitors and the business attendees if it is available. If these lists are not there then participating in the event will be a total gamble because you will not know if the business delegates are the type that would be interested in what you have to offer. If the lists are available check if your competition is on the list of exhibitors. If they are not there or they are poorly represented you might want to ask yourself why they are not interested? As for the business attendees you can then identify those that are part of your market and reach out to them way before the event. This way you will know how many will be interested in visiting your booth during the fair. If most of them are not interested you should consider not participating in the fair.
If you have not done your due diligence yet, you are gambling and you are probably going to waste your time at ZITF 2016
2) You Do Not Have a Method in Place to Calculate the Return on Your Investment in ZITF 2016
So you go there, and you come back, and someone asks you if your participation in ZITF was a success. You smile and you say yes, then you are asked why you say so, you are asked for the evidence. What type of evidence will you present? I would calculate the return on investment (ROI) on the fair and beam the results for all to see. Calculating the ROI will ensure that you know whether or not to be at the ZITF in 2017. It will also help you to adjust your marketing strategy should the results fall short of expectations.
Let me show you how to calculate the ROI on the ZITF courtesy of Demand Metric. You might want to conduct this exercise after the event as well.
|ZITF 2016 COSTS||$ USD|
|Event Sponsorship/Exhibition Costs|
|Key note speaker||300|
|Other transportation expenses||200|
|Promotional gift expenses||250|
|Printed marketing media||425|
|Other promotional expenses||100|
|Opportunity Cost Of Lost Productivity|
|Other lost productivity costs||1200|
|Meeting Arrangement Services|
|Client meeting arrangement services||300|
The total costs of participating in the event are $10925
|ZITF 2016 BENEFITS||QUANTITATIVE ($ USD)||QUALITATIVE|
|Total Number Of Qualified Sales Leads|
|A level leads||31|
|B level leads||48|
|C level leads||120|
|Converted Sales Opportunities From Leads|
|Sales opportunity #1||12000|
|Sales opportunity #2||8500|
|Sales opportunity #3||16200|
|Increased Brand Awareness And Reputation|
|Number of prospects at the exhibition||250|
|Number of customers at the exhibition||25|
|Impact on Brand Scorecard||0.02|
|Positioning As Industry Experts (Strategy)|
|Press release coverage||32 pickups|
|Increased status within industry||Certainly|
|Thought leadership impact||New partnership|
|Current Customer Relationship Development|
|Number of customer meetings||12|
|Number of customers who visited booth||31|
|Product Management/Research Insight From Peers|
|Market research surveys completed||45|
|Product management surveys||13|
The total benefits of participating in ZITF would be $36700
With this in mind the fictional ROI for Plexis Strategy would be 335.93%. It would be worthwhile for me to attend ZITF. If you do not know how to calculate the ROI or you do not know that you should be calculating the ROI in the first place then it is a sign that you are going to waste your time at the ZITF as you are not fully aware of the reasons that you are there for.
3) You Are Participating At the ZITF Because So and So Is Exhibiting There As Well
So you want to go to the ZITF because your competitors are exhibiting there as well. The idea would be ‘if they can do it then we can do it too’. Now take some time to consider whether the expenses that I talked about in number 2 above are worth copying your competitor with no other benefits involved. This would be a waste because you would have spent money without receiving much in terms of benefits in return
You should also have your own targets and goals like:
- Establish or enhance company awareness
- Create, change or reinforce your position in the industry
- Total number of prospects
- Total attendance
- Get publicity
- Competitor intelligence
Having goals such as these actually mean that you have a solid reason to be at the ZITF 2016. Having goals means that there is actually a chance that you will get a ROI as shown in the fictitious example above. If you are going to exhibit at ZITF 2016 simply because others are going to be there, you are going to waste your time.
4) You Do Not Have a Strategy That Is Supported By Tactics
I remember that I was once part of an ill-fated exhibition at the Harare Agricultural Show many years back. I was still a student then learning about marketing. I was employed by one of my relatives who owned a firm that sold agricultural equipment. Basically we had no plan for the following aspects:
- The display in terms of its layout to ensure that visitors could browse through our offerings easily
- We did not get the exhibitor’s gate passes sorted out in time which meant we had to pay to get in everyday which increased our exhibition costs
- There had been no formal product training which resulted in us mumbling when we were asked technical questions by potential customers
- We did not have branded stationary to take down customer orders or feedback. This resulted in us using counter books which did not look professional
- We did not have a script which would guide us on the typical questions that people ask and the answers that we should give them. This inconsistency cost us as potential customers would be turned off by getting different answers to the same question from different people
- We were not trained on how to sort leads according to whether they were hot, warm or cold and how to convert those leads into paying customers
- We did not have a follow up strategy which would help us to make the most of leads whilst the show was still fresh in their minds. A follow up strategy usually consists of the following:
- Making follow up a priority – Setting follow up targets within certain time limits to ensure that the follow ups are made when the trade fair is still fresh in the prospects’ minds
- Writing the follow up note before the trade fair – This will ensure that it is sent out immediately after you return from ZITF as time is money in this case
- Qualifying leads during the trade fair – Qualify the leads in terms of Hot Leads, Warm Leads and Cold Leads. Contact the Hot Leads immediately after the show, then the Warm Leads and so on
- Keep your promises – Self-explanatory is it not?
The result was that we had few visitors, we failed to convert (to sales) any of the visitors that came through and our lack of product knowledge embarrassed us on more than a few occasions. The only thing that we gained was a list of expenses. As they say failing to plan is planning to fail. If you are going to the ZITF 2016 without a strategy you are going to waste your time.
5) You Have Not Analysed Your Competition
Ok so you have hired a top agency to design your booth, stationery and stuff then voila! Your booth starts filling up with people? No!
According to ZITF in 2015 there were 135 foreign exhibitors and 550 local exhibitors. That means there were 685 total exhibitors that were fighting for the attention of 45000 non business visitors and 3000 business visitors.
Do you know how your direct and indirect competition is planning on getting those visitors to go to their stands instead of yours?
Do you know their strategy with regards to their location at the fair? Maybe they are situated in an area where the most traffic flows through.
Why have they designed their booths in much the same way in the last couple of years? Has that design been the reason why they always get more traffic than you?
From the way your competition has exhibited in the past what could their budget be? Have they been using promotions or giveaways in the past and have those giveaways been responsible for them getting more sales leads than you in the past? As a result of their possible budget can you compete with them directly or you should pursue another avenue?
Every battle is won before it is fought. If you have not analysed your competition based on the factors that I have stated above (and much more) you might find yourself in a situation where they achieve their targets and you do not. Maybe you are going to ZITF 2016 to waste your time.
So there you have it. 5 Signs that you are going to waste your time and money at ZITF 2016. If you find yourself in this situation do not despair, you can correct some of these issues at ZITF 2016 and some of the other ones will need to be rectified in 2017. Are there any other signs that you think are evidence of the fact that a company is going to waste their time and money at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair 2016?