By Jefferson Davis, Trade Show Productivity Expert, Competitive Edge

Exhibition Outcomes*** The following is part two of a six-part series on exhibitions.

In my last AEM Industry Advisor article, I discussed the two important outcomes an exhibit program should deliver for a company:

1. Making sure every dollar and every hour invested visibly and directly supports your company’s core business objectives.

2. Delivering measurable financial value, beyond cost.

So let’s tackle the first major step to ensuring these two things happen. In Stephen Covey’s bestseller 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the second habit he shared is as follows: “Begin With The End In Mind.” 

This is not only great life advice, but great trade show advice. The “end” should not be to get through the show, but to get from the show.

The first MAJOR question every exhibiting company should ask is:

“When the show closes, 90, 180 days, one year down the line, how will we know we succeeded in the areas of marketing, customer relationship management and sales?”

This is a deep and powerful question that demands clear outcome thinking and vision.

Getting your marketing, product management and sales leadership together and having each department ask and answer this question will make a fast and profound difference in the ultimate results your exhibit program delivers.

Answering this question also forces you to move beyond general reasons for exhibiting, including brand awareness, new product introduction and lead generation, to more specific outcome driven answers such as:

  • “Market visibility and awareness increased by 10%.”
  • “All tier 1 customers are highly aware of and are considering or have implemented our new solution.”
  • “We have opened five new customer accounts, cross sold our solutions into 20% of our existing customer base, and sales revenue has grown by 15%.” 

Once you have clearly defined your outcomes, now it’s just a matter of reverse engineering each outcome. This requires each departmental leader to create a written action plan detailing the exact steps necessary to achieve the defined outcome.

While admittedly this is hard mental work, in Stephen Covey’s words, it is “Quadrant 1” work.  To create any meaningful outcome in business, or life for that matter, requires two creations. First, the mental creation, which is the vision and blueprints. Second, the physical act of executing the blueprints.

In my next article, I will talk about the principle and practice of selective attraction, which is possibly one of the least understood strategic exhibiting practices.


Jefferson Davis is president of Competitive Edge. A Charlotte, North Carolina based consulting and training firm with 26 years of experience helping companies turn trade shows around from expensive appearances to profitable investments.

You can reach him at or 800-700-6174