How to Write a Post-trade-show Report – A Basic Guide

24 May 2019

We have talked about how with the right preparation you can easily recoup all expenses you have made for a business trip to a trade show. But what does it exactly mean to recoup expenses. How do you know you’ve performed well? You need metrics to align your trade show experience with, and this is where the post-trade-show report comes into play.

This master document follows on all aspects of your business trip before, during and after the trade exhibition to evaluate your performance and if you have no idea how to prepare one for your own company, we are offering this baseline template:

STEP 1: You Have to Know Your Goals Beforehand

Even though it’s called a post-show report, you actually start writing this document before you’ve made a single expense. This starts before you book your tickets for the events and is tied with the reasons why you’re even making the trip in the first place. You need to break down your reasons in easily trackable goals. If you’re in any kind of managerial position, then you’ve already heard about SMART goals:

Tying your performance to such goals allows you to actually learn whether you’re earning back the money you’ve invested into the venture. That’s your baseline.

STEP 2: Take Notes during the Trade Show

Whether you’re there to launch a product or in the capacity to perform a market research, you best be taking notes through the entire event. You should take notes on the interest in the products you have brought, new trends that might be relevant, research presented at the conference program – be like a sponge. Even the smallest details that don’t seem relevant can come in handy later on (in recollecting social events when talking to trade visitors and prospect buyers who were there – do not underestimate the value of anecdotes).

STEP 3: Did You Accomplish Your Goals

You have to convert everything into money. If you’re interested in sales leads and sales, then you need to take meticulous notes on all the people who come to your booth and leave their contact information. Then once the show is over and you tally up all the successful sales, direct orders and sales leads, you need to calculate how much it cost you to generate a single one (this is simple – divide the entire budget you spent by the entire number of leads and sales to find out). This will tell you whether you’ve lost money making sales or turned a profit, or even just paid off the budget in its entirety. Coming out even is a good goal to chase as the bare minimum.

STEP 4: Evaluate Your Staff

Although trade shows are tied to external business goals, you should also use the opportunity to turn an eye towards internal company processes. Trade shows [KY2] are the trial by fire for many staff members and with good reason. Events test team work, social skills, sales skills, the ability to react in the moment and show flexibility, and creativity. Set performance goals for the team you bring and identify whether you have employees who are not cut out to represent your company. You’ll learn who are the best people to surround yourself with on business trips, and who should remain in the office (or receive the chop altogether)!

STEP 5: Do Not Forget about Your Direct Competitors

It’s a missed opportunity to only focus on your performance without including a broader context – the current state of your industry and what your competitors are bringing to the table. Although you can’t know about their sales leads, you can observe who has the best foot traffic and what’s a reason for their popularity. Trade shows are built on emotion, excitement and movement. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see how the crowd embraces or rejects a product and/or brand. That’s a very important benchmark to note down, because it allows you rank yourself where you fit and who you have to beat.

STEP 6: Every Expense Has to Be Documented

Trade shows cost a lot of money, when done right, and a lot more money, when done wrong. The key to knowing how you’ve performed is to maintain a vice grip on your budget. Before you head to the trade show, you need a preliminary budget to even justify going, but what you planned does not always come to pass. Unexpected expenses always rear their heads and it’s incremental to be meticulous in recording your every expense. At the end, you can compare how well you followed your initial budget (a skill in its own right) and note what areas in your spending you need to be aware of in the future.

These are the five pillars to every post-show report. Depending on your need, you can modify as you see fit and add more categories, but if you’re only now adopting an active approach to trade shows, this template will get you through.