Rob Hamlin, Director of Exhibition Solutions, Ungerboeck Systems International
What is ROO?
Using a traditional model of calculating and measuring ROI is not always an effective approach for determining the value that a given event provides for an exhibitor, mostly because it is difficult to point at a given sale and clearly say that it was the direct and sole result of a meeting at that event.
An exhibitor’s prospects are typically touched again and again by a variety of marketing efforts, any or all of which may all have contributed to that final sale.
Yet, at the same time, exhibiting companies today are asking for more and more support in justifying their spend at your event. So what are the alternatives and how can we satisfy their needs?
We like the concept of ROO, or: “Return On Opportunity”. ROO is an approach for determining an exhibitors’ potential opportunity available at a given event and can be used to gauge value and budget for their participation.
How is ROO Calculated?
There are a number of opinions on how to best do this, and ultimately it comes down to an exhibitor’s own ideas of what’s important, but three elements are critical to any calculation:
- An understanding of an exhibitors’ needs and goals on the part of the event provider, and specifically, the event sales team.
- That detailed (as detailed as possible) information about the attendees is available to the exhibitors.
- That exhibitors have tools for capturing and measuring connections and engagement at an event. This is the “proof” part.
With these three elements most exhibitors can build out a strong justification for attending a given event, as well as determining how much they will spend.
How do We Provide This for Exhibitors?
Number 1 – An Understanding of an Exhibitors’ Real Needs and Goals. This is perhaps the most critical piece because it goes to their subjective “feelings” about an event. If they are able to say to themselves “These people really understand my needs – They understand me” then you’ve got an exhibitor for life. (Well almost – you still need to deliver value!)
A few things involving your salespeople and the sales systems they use are essential here:
- Willingness on the part of your sales team to, in the first place, ask the questions that are required to truly understand the exhibitors’ needs;
- A great CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that understands events, tracks all of this information, and can manage one exhibitor over several engagements, and;
- Willingness on the part of your sales team to use this information in their sales process.
Number 2 – Making Detailed Attendee / Prospect Information Available to Exhibitors. This is a tough one in some respects because we’re historically inclined to keep that information private. We want to protect our attendee database, and we fear that the information could actually be perceived negatively.
It’s a tough call, but many would argue that this level of transparency will become the “new norm” as both exhibitors and attendees look for their best value propositions.
Number 3 – Tools for Capturing and Measuring Engagement. This is a bright spot in the equation. New technologies for capturing a prospect’s information, tracking their behaviors and preferences on the event floor, and understanding an attendee’s own goals and preferences, are all getting cheaper and better.
Again, a CRM is critical here for managing and accessing key contact information, and check out all the new tools, especially blue-tooth badging, for tracking attendee behavior.
So, ROO is a pretty simple equation but perhaps a better approach than ROI when we’re looking to quantify value for exhibitors. And even if you’re not using that term, I think we can all agree that providing the pieces described above will help drive sales and retention on the exhibitor side.