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Stevens: Set Goals for Trade Shows, Or Stay Home

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Ruth P. Stevens advised marketers yesterday on how to maximize their time at, and investment in, trade shows.

Citing what she called a “tragic number,” she said 71 percent of exhibitors have no clear objectives set in advance.

Stevens, president of eMarketing Strategy, spoke at the “Event ROI: How to Set Objectives and Demonstrate Results” session on the final day of the B-to-B Marketing Conference.

Stevens advised attendees to set only one or two main objectives. Suggestion No. 2 was to put the objectives in writing.

Then came a warning.

“If you're not going to do those two things, don't go to the show. Stay home,” she said. “Exhibiting at a trade show is a very expensive proposition.”

Stevens followed up with three horrible reasons to go a show:

· We always go to that show.

· Our competitors are there.

· I love that city.

The final reason drew laughter from the audience.

“I believe that it's about 'our customers and prospects are there,'” she said after noting the second horrible reason. “That should be the reason. And just because our competitors [are there] — how do we know that they're smarter marketers than we are?”

Also speaking yesterday was William J. Burkart, managing partner at Grey San Francisco, at the “Cultivating Long Term, Profitable Relationships Through Exclusive Marketing Programs” session.

“One of the key elements for us in generating return on marketing investment is to effect full integration between the sales force as well as marketing, and without that integration … all the marketing efforts can go wasted,” he said.

Marketing is viewed as subservient to the sales force, he said, when it should be a partner with the sales force.

He also discussed the importance of focusing content to the relevant audience.

“For a lot of our high-tech clients, we've got to make sure that there are two paths of communication,” he said. “One is to the technologists. Don't try to communicate a business message to a technologist. Don't try to communicate a technology message to the business people.”

His firm's clients include Oracle, Nokia and Network Associates.

In other news, new Direct Marketing Association president/CEO John A. Greco Jr. was at the conference and addressed attendees briefly Wednesday night at The DMA Business-to-Business Council Networking Dinner. He was also at yesterday's “town hall” meeting, which was closed to the press.

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