Transforming One’s Trade Show – Call to Action to EVOLVE!

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director, CEIR

CEIR Predict was a phenomenal event this year. Presenters challenged attendees to push the boundaries of how they think about their events, what goals they should strive to achieve, and what this means about how the trade show model needs to evolve. Commentary spanned from real world examples on how today’s organizers and exhibitors ‘knock the socks’ off those who attend their events and futuristic thinking, a call-to-action to experiment, to evolve.

CEIR Predict header_w_title-sponsor

There were two presenters that really forced Predict attendees to think beyond today. Their role was to plant the seed, motivate a call-to-action to innovate. They didn’t give the solution. They challenged trade show leaders to experiment and find a new path forward. World renown designer Bruce Mau discussed the power of invisible design, and how the trade show floor is ripe for evolution to a new reality. Marc Pomerleau, VP of Strategy at Freeman XP intertwined the evolution of human society from early times to today, advancements in philosophy, the industrial revolution to today’s technological advancements which he argues increases the power of face-to-face marketing. He asserted that technology has created a heightened sense of alienation of individuals, that it increases the need, the desire to connect face-to-face. This assertion is not the first time I have heard this. Back in college, I recall this statement being made, relating to evolving philosophical and political thinking in the 16th century, pre-industrial revolutionary times. So here we are in the 21st century with all our gadgets, which connect us on one level to each other, but not in the physical space. We are humans and crave that connection. I agree with Marc, digital heightens the need, the craving for communities to connect face-to-face. Digital and exhibition channels complement each other.

still waitingIn CEIR’s Generational Differences in Face-to-Face Interaction Preferences and Activities, it was found that interacting online prompted attendance to business-to-business exhibitions, the younger the attendee, the higher the percentage indicating this.

Pomerleau and Mau argue that today, the face-to-face medium needs to ‘transform,’ evolve with changing norms. The trade show format has not changed much since its hey days of the 1970’s. Perhaps it is time to do so. How to evolve the trade show floor in a way that retains and perhaps even grows profit and delivers a profound experience for both brand marketers and professional attendees? The message of Predict is that organizers need to transform or disrupt themselves, before someone else does…. Though what does that mean? Where and how can trade show organizers evolve?

  • To take on this challenge, an organizers needs to understand two things:
    1. What is the core essence, value about the trade show medium that is unchanging? Organizers need to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water.
    2. What aspects of a trade show are not core, can change? It is in these areas where organizers need to experiment.

Let me assert the core values of a business-to-business exhibition based on CEIR research:

  • Connecting attendees with product – ability to touch, feel, smell, test-drive, evaluate the products in-person, in the physical space. One example I love to give is the World of Concrete’s demonstration area. They give attendees the chance to rip up concrete, test drive jack hammers, experience new product. Does it get any more visceral than that? If you’re an organizer, how does that example apply to your industry?
  • Connecting attendees with people – the people behind a product, product experts, product designers, industry experts, peers, mentors. PEOPLE.
  • Learning/education – this is accomplished in many ways – via attending education sessions, interactions with industry experts, product experts, peers, etc. In many industries, professionals attend to satisfy certification needs though the core essence, value is the power of what is learned or the power of how much is learned, accomplished.
  • Serendipity – the real-time, interaction of people and product generate experiences and learnings that the attendee didn’t expect to takeaway. Connecting with an individual in a similar work role who turns out to be a mentor, a life-long friend who helps the individual and his or her organization advance. The discovery of a product that addresses a current challenge that an organization is facing. It can be for a challenge that wasn’t even on the attendee’s radar before going to the show.

The gist of this blog is this, be brave, dare to experiment, evolve your event, begin to generate new concepts, test them, and if they show promise, expand the concept more broadly into your event. EVOLVE!

Want to take a deep dive into CEIR reports that may help in strategic planning? Here is a laundry list of recently released reports. Happy reading! If you have any questions, reach out to me at I am happy to point you to CEIR studies that can answer your information needs.

Attendee Focused Research

Quick Guide on Attendee Preferences by Industry Sector

2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study

Exhibition Floor Interaction: What Attendees Want

Purchase Process and Customer Relationships

Exhibitor Focused Research

Best Practices for Exhibit Booth Design – For Companies of All Sizes

2015 Exhibitor ROI and Performance Metrics Practices

2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study

The Marketing Spend Decision

Using Data Analytics – Where to Begin? How to Start?!

Reprinted with permission from CAEM October Communique

Article Written by Jeff Tanner, Ph.D., Dean of the Strome College of Business, Old Dominion University
Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director at the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)

Take a deep breath. Relax. Ignore all the hype. You don’t have to have BIG data to make data-driven decisions.

True, the stories of self-weighing beer kegs that automatically issue purchase orders when empty or identifying which customers are pregnant by whether they buy larger jeans and vitamins sounds amazing but the data systems that make these kinds of Big Data applications possible aren’t commonplace in expositions.

come shopping

The reality is we’re in business-to-business and the data are different and not as readily available. So what makes sense for our industry?

The first thing is to focus on attendee marketing. Doesn’t matter who you are, that’s where the biggest gains are to be made. It’s also where you’re likely to have the most data.

The second thing is to recognize that this is the era of small markets. Every large market is made up of individuals, even when the customer is a company. When you are able to take the data you do have and segment more effectively, you can create relevant content (show floor offerings, educational offerings and more) that make sense for each of the small markets you’re trying to reach. And more importantly the messaging is more tailored to the individual; it will speak to them, which inevitably will increase engagement, response, attendance!

Use of analyticsWhat you can’t do is let the problems of data stop you. According to CEIR’s report Use of Analytics Today by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers, 32% of organizers are staying on the sidelines, not taking advantage of their data. That same CEIR report, though, does say that more than two-thirds of exhibition organizers are currently or soon to be actively engaging in data analytics.

There are three levels of data usage. The first is reporting, or using data to track activities or outcomes, for the purposes of monitoring activities or work processes. Examples might be exhibitor churn rates, attendance, and the like. The second level of usage is discovery, or analyzing data in order to generate new insights or understanding. Examples might be traditional marketing research to segment the market to develop target personas, using existing data to identify customer motivation or purchase patterns, and similar projects.

The final usage of data is production, or the use of data in real-time to identify customers and take appropriate actions. We call it production because models are put into production as part of the marketing process. In this application, models to decide what to do next in tandem with marketing automation, such as which email a potential attendee should receive based on what the attendee’s behavior has been on the website or dynamic scoring models that change how you respond to prospects based on what they do following a show or what offer they may receive to invite them to register to attend your event. Production models can seem complicated – but there’s a lot that can be gained just by using your reporting mechanisms and discovery opportunities more completely. You don’t have to be Google or Amazon to make the most of the data you have!

Designed by Freepik

The reality is that you can gain a lot with real-time monitoring, such as using location data (through RFID, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi technology) to identify where a high value prospect is on the show floor and react accordingly. For example, perhaps an exhibit manager could text or email an invite to that prospect to stop by. Or perhaps real-time monitoring of conference attendee movement throughout the event is needed to confirm they are making their way to your exhibition floor – if not, then you could change your plans for inviting attendees more directly. Real-time monitoring by organizers can signal a need for tactics to make sure that the right actions are happening in-show to keep exhibitors satisfied. These sound like scary Big Data applications, but in reality, it’s fairly easy once you sign on to the technology.

i excel

There may also be more data available to you now through the systems you already have. With some creative applications of analysis, you may be able to find new segments or micro-segments to reach with more relevant communications. For example, instead of segmenting by title, segment instead by previous session attendance, white paper downloads, and other content-driven data that signal interest by topic. Simple frequency analysis with a bar or pie chart created in Excel can help make these decisions.

So using Big Data principles is easier than you may have thought. But how do you begin to pull value from data?

  1. First, decide what business problem or problems you want to solve. Is it retention of exhibitors or increasing sponsorships? Or is it making attendee marketing or exhibit sales efforts more cost-effective, or attendee growth or targeted attendee engagement? Look for the low-hanging fruit, areas where an easy win can be had. CEIR’s report, Use of Analytics Today by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers, suggests that looking at ways to make marketing or sales more cost-effective is a good place to start.
  2. Get the right people involved. Buy-in from the top is very helpful – but insufficient. If you’re trying to make a decision about exhibitors, involve salespeople. Don’t forget someone from finance or accounting. They have data and, perhaps more important, insight that might accelerate the time to value.  Also, don’t forget to involve the keepers of the data at the outset. They know where your data is, in what format it is in and what it takes to have data ready for analysis.
  3. Identify what data is needed and see if you already have it.  The data keepers will know what you have and where it is but be sure to ask for data definitions. If you are combining data from different sources, you want to make sure that what is a customer in one data source is the same thing in the other data source or you need to come to agreement on what a ‘customer’ is for the analysis. In one instance, for example, a customer may be defined as an association member and in another, an attendee to a conference and trade show event and in another, a user of online education offerings. And these issues raise another, how do you make sure that one person’s activities are linked together into one record? If you are looking to better understand a customer’s relationship with your organization, linking such information is important. All these issues need help from the data keepers to assure the most useful and effective analyses.
  4. No access to a statistician? Then use analysis that makes sense to you.  Even simple bar charts or pie graphs provide a way to make sense of complicated data. Or consider acquiring visualization packages like Tableau that can add greater sophistication to those charts. Don’t forget, too, that professors who teach analytics at your local university are always looking for real projects for their students. If you can take the time, these are great resources.

If you want to take a deeper dive on this topic, several sources are available to you.

Analytics and Dynamic Customer Strategy (by JF Tanner Jr., Wiley, 2014) offers a road map for using data to inform customer strategy with many real world examples from small to the largest companies in the world.tanner

CEIR offers two documents offering a snapshot on the use of data analytics in the exhibition industry today; as well as 12 case studies revealing a range of uses of analytics by for-profit and not-for-profit exhibition organizers in different industry sectors.Use of analytics

Use of Analytics Today by
Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers

data driven

Use of Analytics by Business-to-Business
Exhibition Organizers Case Studies


John F. (Jeff) Tanner Jr., Ph.D.

Dr. Tanner is Dean, Old Dominion University’s Strome College of Business in Norfolk, Virginia. Author or co-author of 15 books, his latest, Analytics & Dynamic Customer Strategy: Big Profits from Big Data (Wiley) was released late 2014 to wide acclaim. Dr. Tanner has taught executives and graduate students in a dozen countries, including India, France, Malawi, Australia, and Colombia, and recently spoke at E2MA’s Red Diamond Congress, National Retail Federation’s Big Show, Oracle’s OpenWorld, CRM Evolution, MSI’s Big Data Conference, and Teradata’s Marketing Festival.  Consulting clients include Cabela’s, EMC, and Procter & Gamble, among others. As a scholar, he has published 75 journal articles in such top journals as Journal of Marketing, Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Education, and Psychological Bulletin and his research has been supported by grants from NIH, HHS, Walmart Foundation, CEIR, TSEA and others. In addition to research awards, he was the Society for Marketing Advances Distinguished Teacher (2013). Dr. Tanner sits on the boards of several corporations and non-profits. He and his wife, Karen, breed and race thoroughbred horses.

Nancy DrapeauNancy Drapeau, PRC, Director of Research, Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)

Ms. Drapeau is an admitted trade show junky and data geek. More than 15 of her 21 years as a market research professional have been spent in the business-to-business exhibition channel. She has had the privilege of serving as CEIR ‘s research director since 2011. She is a Nielsen Burke trained focus group moderator, holds a degree in Government from Georgetown University and a Masters from L’Institut Europeéns des Hautes Etudes Internationales.

2015 CEIR Predict Wrap Up

CEIR Predict header_w_title-sponsor

We just completed Predict: CEIR’s Annual Exhibition Industry Outlook Conference 16-17 September in Chicago, IL and we’re proud to say that this was our largest Predict ever!  It drew a record-breaking 139 attendees, all top level executives, to learn about the future of the exhibition industry.

If you didn’t make it to 2015 CEIR Predict, here are some of the highlights. Don’t forget to watch the wrap-up video on CEIR TV!

16 September

The event started with a welcome from Britton Jones, President & CEO, Business Journals Inc.

2015 CEIR Predict Britton Jones

In addition to evaluating happenings within the exhibition industry, Predict looked outside of the industry for overall economic trends and indicators. Keynote speaker Professor Amir Sufi, Ph.D., University of Chicago & Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research pointed out that a weak recovery in household spending and the persistent issues presented by income inequality will continue to affect the overall economy and, in turn, the exhibition industry.

The day ended with a facilitated panel discussion on the state of the exhibitions and events industry moderated by Nancy Walsh, President-North America, Reed Exhibitions

2015 CEIR Predict Panel 2

17 September

Industry insiders presented topics on notable trends within the trade show industry and how they will affect the way in which organizers approach their strategies for increasing their exhibitions’ performance, sessions included:

What We See – Change! by Marc Pomerleau, Vice President of Strategy, FreemanXP

Design the Desired Outcome by Bruce Mau, Founder, Bruce Mau Design

Innovating Brand Activation at Trade Shows Moderatored by David Saef, EVP, Strategy & MarketWorks, Global Experience Specialists (GES)

Business Models of the Future: A Group Discussion Moderatored by Don Pazour, CEO, Access Intelligence LLC

Even though the two-day event was jam packed with important information regarding the state of the industry, there was still time for discussion and networking between sessions.

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What were the final thoughts about CEIR Predict?

Buffy Levy, Director, Event Services, SmithBucklin said, “This was my first time attending the CEIR Predict Conference, and it was an excellent opportunity to gain further insight into my industry. My best takeaway was how important it is for show organizers to think about our product not as booths, but as experiences, touch points and memories that are made at an event. To succeed, we first need to listen to and empathize with our stakeholders. Then, we must design the show not from our own point of view, but that of our users. By doing all of this, we ensure our shows stay relevant and serve as bedrocks of their respective industries.”

Deirdre Flynn, CFSP, Executive Vice President, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers said, “The information shared at Predict – by speakers, panelists and peers – is thought-provoking and inspiring. It’s a great opportunity to listen and learn, and create shared experiences for our stakeholders!”

Galen Poss, CEM, Vice Chairman, dmg::Events said, “This year’s CEIR Predict Conference was outstanding! The quality of speakers, content and delegate participation were at all-time highs. It is hard to imagine that anyone attending did not feel they had made an excellent investment of both their time and resources. Hats off to all who made this year’s event an overwhelming success.”

A very special thank you to our speakers and wonderful sponsors for making the event possible!

Visit the CEIR Predict website to learn more about the annual event. You can also view our program, speakers, sponsors, and list of the 2015 Attendees.

Event Data: Iceberg Right Ahead!


By Eric Misic
VP of Business Development
Bear Analytics, a data analytics provider to the exhibitions industry

Data is a valuable asset for many organizations in our space. Our industry is buzzing with talk about “Big Data” and event organizers have never had more data at their disposal—from app data, to session scans and traffic flow, to social media.

Despite Big Data’s current “moment in the sun,” many of us are still guilty of making event and business decisions based on gut instinct, superficial statistics or established pathways. Analyzing data can be time-consuming and complex, while cleaning and standardizing our event data never seems to make it to the top of the to-do list. However, decisions based on gut instinct or historical precedence can harm an event and rob your team of the intelligence they need to take your event’s performance to the next level.

At Bear Analytics, we liken this to an iceberg scenario: While gut instinct, precedence, and historical analysis may give you an indication of a problem your event is facing, the majority of the issue still lurks beneath the surface. Without this deeper level of event intelligence, the decisions you make could steer your event to safety, but are more likely to put you on a collision course with issues you cannot even see.

For example: An event organizer sees the same familiar faces from their industry year after year, and since their topline attendee count is growing slightly, they assume they have low attendee churn and stable retention. However, an in-depth analysis of their entire attendee base reveals that beyond this loyal, visible minority of attendees, 75% of attendees only come to the event once and never return. This high churn rate places additional pressure on the marketing team as they are always making first-time sales and trying to source new prospects—the event’s growth is not sustainable. These insights lie beneath the surface of standard “top-line” event metrics and gut feelings, but could drastically change the strategy behind the event’s operations, marketing, and content.

Analyzing your event data is worth the effort and can lead to richer intelligence and insights in many different areas, such as:

  1. Identifying Your Most Valuable Customers
    Can you quickly identify your most valuable customers? This is the group of attendees or exhibiting companies that forms the core of your event. They return year after year and probably spend more per year than first-timers and other less loyal segments. You can empower this group to act as your brand ambassadors and incentive them with loyalty programs that recognize their contribution to your event.
  2. Understanding Geographic Trending & Event Pull
    How does your attendee or exhibitor make-up shift if you hold the event in Philadelphia versus Orlando? This comparative geographic intelligence is critical for events that rotate around the country. Even events that stay put can benefit from understanding how their attendees’ geographic makeup may shift over time. This intelligence helps better target marketing and sales efforts and can inform venue selection and forecasting future events.
  3. Creating an Abandonment Snapshot
    Churn is a necessary evil for events. But have you analyzed these attendees or exhibitors abandoning your event? Patterns in event abandonment can inform your strategy. If you see that exhibitors who abandon disproportionately hail from the same section of the industry, it may indicate that industry dynamics are affecting your event and that your sales team will have to implement creative strategies to mitigate this trend. Likewise, if a certain seniority level abandons your event at a faster rate than everyone else, it may be time to realign your marketing or to evaluate your educational content.

Aside from these three areas, there are many other actionable insights that can be gleaned if you dive beneath the surface of you event data “iceberg”. Ahoy event data ahead!

For more information on how exhibition and event organizers are using data to drive decisions, check out CEIR’s reports available at the links below:

Use of Analytics Today by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers

Use of Analytics by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers Case Studies

Millennials Are Value Driven Shoppers, This Plays Out in the Exhibition Industry

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

A recent AdAge article reported Walmart is the favorite retailer among Millennials, based on Infoscout data on purchase activity. This article quotes Walmart’s CMO Stephen Quinn admitting, “That kind of shocks a lot of people, including inside the company.”

The value-driven shopping nature of Millennials is not a surprise to me. It is consistent with research CEIR has conducted this year with young professional exhibitors, 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study. In this study, the top ranked reason why young professional exhibitors have advocated not exhibiting is due to their perception that it cost too much, 44 percent of those who have been involved in such decisions. And other top ranked reasons for advocating not exhibiting also speak to the importance placed on value based spending: perceptions an event has poor attendance quality or low attendance volume.USLaborForceByGeneration

Young professional exhibitors by no means are negative about the exhibition channel, quite the opposite, nearly all surveyed young professional exhibitors find that exhibitions deliver unique value that cannot be fulfilled by other marketing or sales channels. The most popular aspects speak to the ROI, the ability to achieve multiple sales and marketing objectives in a compressed time period: engaging face-to-face with customers and prospects; engaging with a large number of a target audience in a compressed time period; as well as interacting with a wide variety of players including suppliers and others.

So organizers need to pay attention to this focus on value-driven purchasing NOW. This is not something that is a distant, future consideration. It is already the case that Millennials and Gen Xers surpass Boomers as the largest generations in today’s workforce. Their preferences are already beginning to drive exhibiting decisions and this influence will only grow as Boomers exit for retirement. The oldest Millennial is age 34 in 2015, an age when a professional can very likely serve in a managerial or executive role who makes such decisions.


To access CEIR’s report, go to 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study.

Brian Casey Interview at ACCESS – Insights on Current and Near-Term Trends

Take a moment to hear CEIR CEO and President Brian Casey, CEM share his insights about the outlook and trends for the exhibition industry at last December’s EDPA annual meeting, ACCESS.

EDPA – Brian Casey, CEM President & CEO, CEIR – Interview at ACCESS2014

Brian’s comments shared at that time about the anticipated performance of the industry are affirmed by the newest CEIR Index, released on April 13, 2015. To learn more, download the newest CEIR Index.

Millennials are the future of the exhibition industry, Brian shares some key traits to pay attention to when looking to accommodate young professional attendee needs and preferences. To obtain a fuller understanding, pull down the full reports here:

2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study

Best Practices by Exhibition Organizers to Attract and Retain Young Professional Attendees

For those who want a complete perspective of young professional needs and preferences, take a moment to access the newest generational research completed by CEIR with young professional exhibitors: 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study.

Advice from a Leading Data Analytics Expert on Where Organizers Need to Focus Efforts

Jeff ‘John’ Tanner, Jr., Ph.D. and author of Analytics and Dynamic Customer Strategy
Dean, Strome College of Business, Old Dominion University

Dr. Tanner, a noted expert in the field, offers advice based on his extensive research on trends in the use of data analytics in business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing. His clients include major companies including IBM, Pearson-Prentice Hall and Cabela’s.

When it comes to analytics, does it really matter whether your data is big or small? Or does it matter whether you have the right data to make the right decision when you need it?
Rather than worrying about whether data are big or small, what most marketers should take away from the three Vs of Big Data are:

  • Data, if available, can support more decisions (Variety)
  • Data, if available, can accelerate decision making (Velocity)
  • Data, if available, can add value (Volume).

Don’t worry about whether your data are big or small; rather, think instead about the three Vs as benefits of data-driven decision making.

But take note of the caveat: If Available. If you don’t have the data available at the time of decision making, you don’t have time to get the data.

That’s why a sound data strategy is necessary before you need the data. And to start, let’s consider how you use data.

Decision makers use data for three things:

  1. to identify problems or opportunities,
  2. to make decisions, or
  3. to gain insight

Most organizations stop at #1 – if you think about traditional reporting systems, all they tell you is that things are either working or they’re not. The real value of data, though, is in making decisions and gaining insight.

For example:

I worked with Cabela’s on a project involving cart abandonment on their online store. People would fill up a shopping cart at Cabela’s online store and then not purchase it. We used data in two ways. One was to determine whether there were products with a greater likelihood of purchase if they went into the basket first – we looked for the opposite of cart abandonment. This exercise then gave us a list of products to promote, which resulted in a 400 bps improvement in margin while also doubling revenue compared to the usual marketing campaign. That’s using data for decision making.

Then, we dove deeper into the data in order to understand why things happened as they did. This insight then gave us ideas for additional opportunities. But here’s where the strategy came in. We already had significant data on households so we were able to do the data mining that made insight possible.

What about this example can apply to your exhibition?

No matter the environment, retailer, business-to-business exhibition organizer or otherwise, the principles of a data strategy are the same.

First, get your data together. The biggest challenge I see in using data for decision making is that the data is scattered in different systems. People won’t share data and companies are slow to build the data warehouses necessary to bring the data together. Executives, though, who see the power in data can make this happen. To help them see the power in your data, find out the questions they want answers to and illustrate which ones can be answered with a single complete view of your customer.

Second, define your data. A master data definition table tells you what data you have, the source, and what it means. For example, define “customer.” In some organizations, an attendee customer in the data is the individual and sometimes it is the decision location, not the individual registrant. The individual registrant is then linked to the decision location. In other settings, an attendee customer is a member to the association who is an attendee to an exhibition though may be a buyer of other non-exhibition offerings such as online webinars, education only conferences, emedia or print publications among other offerings. Such definitions are important for linking transactional data (How big is a customer? Depends on how you define customer.) and other forms of data.

Note that this language should be agreed upon across units, for example the group which manages exhibitions and the group which manages conferences. There’s nothing worse than an argument in a meeting only to find out the argument was all semantic.

At this point, you’re ready to begin using data for insight and decision making, much as we did at Cabela’s. But you’ll quickly figure out that there’s data missing. Now you can put into place data capture tools and processes to fill in those gaps.

For example, you might find that you need to add fields to your attendee registration system for all exhibitions, which might also then require adjustments to other non-exhibition events or conferences that are run or managed by your organization. You may also find that you need to add fields in the CRM system so that you can test different approaches to attendee marketing campaigns or to tighten campaign management and develop a lead nurturing system or an approach that achieves a higher pre-registration show up rate. With data, for example, you can determine whether a pre-show invitation that was opened not only predicted show attendance but was also predictive of post-show engagement. Documenting the effects of each interaction helps optimize the value of each marketing event.

Many organizations have adopted a “collect everything, sort it out later” mentality. That’s fine early on. As you gain experience, however, you’ll recognize which data is more important. Keep in mind that while data storage may seem relatively cheap, the cost of acquisition (especially if that involves customers giving up data) is not always insignificant. And remember, data needs to be maintained, kept current.

The goal is to have an intelligent conversation with your customer through all channels. Your data helps your marketing listen and respond. Thus, as your data strategy matures, those opportunities for capturing important pieces of information about the customer can be recognized and leveraged.

And that means thinking about all sources of data. When you talk with a friend, you aren’t just listening to what is said. You’re also reading body language, taking in contextual cues, and much more. New sources of data can give you those contextual cues. For example, Marketo salespeople use LinkedIn photographs to determine how to first contact a potential prospect. If the person is smiling, reach out one way. If not, use a different approach. How did they learn? They did so through using data for insight.

Your data may never meet the definition of Big Data. But who cares? What’s really important is that you leverage the data to make better decisions faster.

If you are interested in learning more about how business-to-business exhibition organizers are using data analytics today, two new CEIR reports are now available:

Use of Analytics Today by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers

Use of Analytics by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers Case Studies