Zero-based exhibiting. What’s it all about?

Last Modified: June 27, 2016 | Posted by: toast

Unilever has announced the adoption of zero-based budgeting across its marketing functions. What this means is that Unilever’s marketing teams now have to justify spending on all new brand activity,  rather than being provided with a budget based on last year’s spend.

However, while this strict cost control measure was implemented to help the company expand its efficiency drive, Unilever stresses that zero-based budgeting is not about cutting marketing spend, but making it work more efficiently.

Exhibitions and trade shows are an excellent way to showcase your brand and the products/services you offer. However, once upon a time, companies exhibited because they always had done – or because their competitors were attending – without any real consideration of the end benefits.

Today, diminishing budgets and the need to demonstrate ROI and meet wider business objectives means that such status-quo planning is no longer an option. Event profs must measure the success of each and every event, each and every year.

So, what can you do to help maximise the success of your exhibition stands, and deliver that all important return?

  1. Establish what success means to you. Whether you want to stand out from the competition and boost your brand awareness, generate footfall to your exhibition space, or make those all-important sales, you can’t measure success without first knowing what it looks like.
  2. Do the maths. To calculate your ROI, figure how much the exhibition is costing you to attend, and attach a monetary value to each new customer/lead. Doing this will help you see the tangible value of your exhibitions, and help you decide whether to reinvest in the show next year.
  3. Don’t make snap judgements. Not all the sales generated at an exhibition will be made on the day. Typically, you might need to wait at least six months before determining whether an exhibition was a successful investment. This leads us to…
  4. Invest in technology. To keep ahead of the competition, invest in technology. Tech doesn’t just give you the analytics and data you need to track ROI, but will also help you to maximise the number of leads generated at exhibitions, enhance the level of engagement with visitors at your stand, and communicate with these visitors post-event.
  5. Be strategic. Only once you know what you’re working towards, and who you are talking to, can you meet the expectations of exhibition visitors. So, figure out what it is you want to say, and ensure your exhibition stand helps you to instigate relevant conversations with your target audience – fuelling your sales pipeline. Find out more about how your exhibition stand can help you to do this.
  6. Be prepared. Exhibiting isn’t just about what happens on the day. Wherever possible, pre-arrange as many meetings as you can with existing customers and targeted prospects who will be attending the show.
  7. Be ambitious. When only aim for zero-based exhibiting? Why not margin-based, where the potential earning from stands outstrip the costs? The right exhibition stand partner should be able to deliver exhibition stands that look fantastic and are created specifically around your objectives. Helping you to win customers and providing a real return on your investment, whatever your budget.

Of course, tracking the success of an exhibition isn’t always easy, particularly as sales sparked at trade shows may not take place on the day. Likewise, any increases in brand awareness remain difficult to substantiate. However, with zero-based exhibiting set to become increasingly important over the next 12 months, event profs must do everything they can to demonstrate bang for buck. Status quo planning simply won’t cut it if you want to succeed long-term.

At Apex, we understand the immense effort that goes into preparing for exhibitions, and we work with you to help reach your goals and achieve a truly positive experience. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you achieve margin based exhibiting, click here to find out more, or give us a call today on + 44 (0)1625 429370 to discuss your requirements in more depth.