How to strategically manage a trade fair participation portfolio.
Strategically manage hundreds of trade fair and congress participations
Due to the strategic relevance and the insights we were able to gain, we have committed ourselves to confidentiality towards the client. Nevertheless, in many workshops and seminars with other clients, we have found that the topic of “transparency of one’s own trade fair participations” is relevant in many companies. Especially when trade fair participations are managed centrally but planned and organised regionally or locally.
Even though this case involves several hundred trade fairs and congresses, this system is also valuable with significantly fewer events. The client is a globally active company. In a 2-year cycle, the company participates in about 150 trade fairs and 250 congresses worldwide.
Trade fair portfolio analysis as an instrument for the strategic management of trade fair participation
When companies participate in more and more trade fairs and congresses over the years and continents, at some point they lose track of what is going on. This makes control more difficult. A status quo analysis can help and be the basis for (re)orientation.
“With this project, trade fairs can finally be strategically controlled again and delegated to operative units. At the same time, a reporting system was implemented with which event data can be collected decentrally, evaluated centrally and constantly updated. This means that all events are put to the test every year and have to prove themselves, both internally and externally. It goes without saying that this has a lasting positive influence on the quality.
Participation in trade fairs and exhibitions accompanying congresses is indispensable for the company when it comes to building and maintaining relationships with customers and interested parties. The products require a lot of explanation and the target groups are very difficult to reach. At the same time, the company is in a state of change: new products, new target groups, new target markets and shifted priorities require adjustments in the participation mix. In the course of this, resources are to be invested more consciously.
- Which company division exhibits when, where, for whom and with what?
- Is the target group at the fair and is the nomenclature still relevant in terms of corporate goals and focus segments?
- What is the competition doing?
- How do we get data: which data is available internally, which needs to be organised externally?
First, we defined criteria with the company against which we looked at each event. These criteria took into account both the corporate perspective
- how important is the region in which the fair takes place?
- for which business sector is the fair relevant?
- How many and which competitors are taking part?
as well as criteria by which the event itself can be judged:
- Number and internationality of visitors
- Decision-making authority of the visitors
- Number and internationality of exhibitors
We weighted the criteria and transferred them to a scoring model so that we could determine an overall value for each trade fair after the evaluation. This value, in turn, we were able to break down in terms of “event quality” and “strategic relevance”. Thanks to this breakdown, we were able to present all fairs and congresses in a 4-field matrix. The 4 fields were:
- “no go” events: low strategic relevance and low event quality. These events were deleted.
- “can do” events: High strategic relevance and event quality that could be improved or medium strategic relevance and high event quality. These events were discussed.
- “must have” events: These are characterised by high strategic relevance and high event quality. These were set.
The evaluation made all trade fair participations transparent with regard to the defined criteria. Thanks to the classification in one of the 4 fields, decisions could be made, such as:
- Which trade fair can be dispensed with in the future?
- In which trade fair are too many resources invested?
- In which fairs must more resources be invested in the future?
- Which fairs will remain as they are?
- In which markets do (complementary) alternatives to trade fairs need to be found?
- How and by whom will which fairs be planned in the future?
We are Anna Esche, Lars Lockemann and a large, dedicated team. For more than 21 years, we have been designing B2B trade fair participations with brains and with passion, where the focus is on people. Bringing products in need of explanation closer to the appropriate target groups, that is our speciality. We work for our clients strategically and operationally, over many years or on a project basis. Or both. Nationally and internationally.
From the very beginning, we have thought of trade fairs differently. Today, we think of all B2B live communication differently: integrative, situational and always people-oriented. Because people buy from people.