Screen Time Versus Face Time: What Has the Highest Marketing Value?

November 25, 2019

Sofia Troutman

Sofia Troutman is the Senior Digital Marketing and Product Innovation Manager for Skyline Exhibits. Sofia heads up Skyline’s marketing efforts in new product development and management, lead generation, exhibitor education, industry relations and market research.

I get asked these questions on a regular basis: How can you prove that there is value in all the money spent during a trade show? How does that stack up to e-mail, content and pay-per-click marketing? Is it even worth it to go to the show? Many just assume that the answer is no. 

It’s easy to assume that when you have myriad data points provided by your marketing stack vendors on click-through rates, SEO ranking and marketing material requests, that you are getting a better value from that spend. This is especially easy to do when you have a tight budget that must cover your trade show spend along with online advertising and campaign costs.

However, as much as I value the opportunity to share customer value and brand positioning with electronic newsletters, webinars and pay-per-click advertising, I know that it’s not the same as having face time in front of an actual customer. While many of us are willing to buy consumer products online and do, I typically rely on my trust for the brand or company I’m doing business with to decide whether to go forward with the transaction. Also, while I’m willing to make smaller purchases online, I typically choose to go to a brick and mortar store at some point during the buying process for larger value or more complex purchase decisions.

When making business spending decisions I, along with many other business professionals, go through a similar process. We will buy paper or a banner online, and maybe even click on an online ad to find a vendor. However, when the purchase success and cost is more consequential, our buying process changes. We do more research, we want to learn about the company, we want to meet the people, see how responsive they are and really understand their capabilities. While companies can do this process with clients one-on-one, trade shows and corporate events can be a very efficient way to expedite the process for buyers and sellers.

Many exhibitors focus only on leads to assess the value of a trade show or event, and that is if they even bother to measure the value. Yet, there is much more value to live events than just gathering a bunch of business cards. We highly encourage all our clients to estimate the return on investment (ROI) they get from the events at which they exhibit at. CEIR (Center for Exhibition and Industry Research), in their recent Marketing Survey, indicates that when marketers measure ROI they are better able to meet their goals and have a more favorable perception of the value of trade shows. 

One of the things that many marketers struggle with is how to measure the performance of their trade show or event. If you oversee organizing and producing an event or your company’s presence at a trade show, it is imperative that you measure the results of your efforts and investment.

Here are some important considerations when calculating the value of your trade show or event:

Take total leads and an estimated value per lead

    • Get agreement on value per lead and estimated sales close rate from your sales and leadership before you go to the show

Estimate the additional benefits or sales costs savings you get from going to the show

    • Estimated cost for sales staff to visit all prospects you met at the show
    • Value of PR or brand visibility from being at the show

Use the opportunity to meet with existing clients or high-value prospects

    • Can you train current clients or upsell them to a relevant product?
    • Can your engineers or marketers take the opportunity to learn from them?
    • Can your sales team take that lead or client to the next level of loyalty by adding value during the time they meet at the show or event?

Regardless of how you measure the value of live marketing, realize that it is not a direct competitor to your digital marketing strategy. Live marketing allows you to do something digital marketing cannot do: enable your staffers and content to come alive and be truly customized for the attendee. It is a wonderful complement to digital marketing as well as a strategic tool to increase your company’s competitive advantage in winning the loyalty of new and existing customers.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.