The real work begins when the show closes. Yes, the exhibit has to be torn down, packed and shipped back to wherever it is stored. But there are a number of things that must be attended to besides the crates and equipment:
- Be sure to collect and pay all bills associated with the show in a timely fashion.
- Collect and followup all leads from the show.
- Debrief the staff and brief management on what worked and what didn’t work with regard to execution of the show.
Bills. We don’t like to hear that word in our personal lives, but it is a reality. If all of your purchase orders and pre-show estimates are in place, paying the bills should be fairly easy. If you didn’t do any planning, however, this could be tough. However, I’m sure you prepared. It is good to make sure your exhibit house and all of your service providers are paid in a timely fashion (chances are you paid in advance with either a credit card or check, so you’ll just be dealing with overages at this point). Suppliers who are paid on time are happy suppliers.
Leads. Isn’t this why you went to the show in the first place? If you used an electronic lead device, make sure you turn it in on time and get the download (usually either a disk or USB drive). How you process leads internally depends on what your organization has in place: do you have a central data base that these data need to be integrated into? Or is it you (as the trade show manager) who has to follow up with calls or distribute the leads to the sales force? Whatever you do, don’t forget these important links to the customers you worked so hard to find at the show.
Debriefings. Postmortems or post-show reviews always should be done, even in the smallest of organizations. Poll your booth staff and executives (or anyone else who attended the show from your organization) and get their comments. Circulate a questionnaire if need be. Ask your suppliers what worked and what didn’t with them. Get your own thoughts down while they are still fresh. Then use it all to explain to management how the show went and how they profited from their marketing expenditure. Use this report and data collection to help you plan next year’s show and the rest of the program.