When we hear the term “data-driven marketing” most of us subconsciously add the word digital and assume that this approach can only work for online activities. But what does Data-Driven Marketing actually mean? As marketers, we are constantly trying to create relevant and personalized messages for our target audience. Data-driven marketing takes us closer to reaching this goal and can be summarized in 3 steps:

  1. Gather your customer/prospect’s data
  2. Analyze the data to find trends and insights
  3. Create strategies based on these insights

Those of us who are already working with multi-channel marketing strategies will utilize email, SMS, social media, paid advertising, and direct mail. But what about our exhibition strategy? Are we integrating our exhibition plans to increase our success?

The Challenge of Congresses and Data

If you were to ask a Sales Rep if they would like to be in a room with 50 relevant prospects, most of them would jump at the chance. Congresses—and more specifically, the exhibition floor—provide us with access to thousands of prospects. However, most companies struggle to justify the investment they make in exhibition booths and activities.

Brand exposure, market research, and competitive positioning make it nearly impossible not to invest in these events, but the tools we use to support our digital activities often find it hard to keep up with the fast-paced,  personal interaction that a congress provides.

Most of our clients feel positive following a congress—there are usually a few success stories, deals won, contracts renewed, patients identified, or a new opportunity that’s been opened. The longer-term impact, however, is harder to measure, and return-on-investment metrics are limited at best.

Why Make a Change?

The online space isn’t the only place that audiences crave relevant and personalized information. As delegates walk through an exhibition hall, they have a short break before they start another symposium, lecture or workshop. The last thing they want is to be approached by a Sales Rep trying to sell something that’s not interesting to them.



Your team and your audience both save time, and communicate more relevant content when you employ a strategy based on existing data. An efficient strategy will provide more data to assess, and make conclusions regarding your product messaging and your audience’s response to your product.

How to Take a Data-Driven Approach to Exhibitions

Your approach will depend on the data maturity at your company. If you have access to a compliant CRM database, the building blocks are at your fingertips.

Start by segmenting your data, and trying to identify trends. Does your existing client database demonstrate patterns and trends? Some companies find that geographical fields have the strongest impact on their success rates. In this case, you can create exhibition lead qualification tools that identify “region” immediately.

This will ensure that Sales Reps can quickly identify their relevant leads, and that less relevant leads still have a hospitable experience—but with less time invested, and less information shared.

If your company does not use a CRM system, but has kept data from previous exhibition activities, try using that data to identify trends. If the data has not been saved in the most helpful format, create a new template that will help you next time.

Interview key stakeholders from previous years for their insights, and incorporate them in your strategy tests. If you have purchased exhibition attendee lists from organizers in the past, hopefully your sales team will have tracked their progress with the list throughout the year.

If you find that there is no record of the reasons why these leads did not turn into sales, send a short questionnaire to the Sales Reps asking for their feedback and experiences. Then you can create an exhibition strategy that addresses and challenges any recurring issues that Sales have experienced.

For example, if cost objections are the most common, include key messaging that highlights the benefits of your long-term pricing model.

If your company is a newer player and does not have historical data to work with, make sure you’re working with tools and strategies that will provide you with organized and insightful data.

In all cases, collaboration across teams is one of the keys to success. Data is something that needs to be managed across an entire organization, so make sure you’re all aligned. Digital Marketing and Product Management are two of many teams that can contribute greatly to a successful, data-driven exhibition strategy.


Key Takeaways

Exhibitions are often treated as a siloed channel—an unavoidable expense that is difficult to measure. By collaborating across teams, and utilizing data to create relevant strategies and tools, exhibitions have the potential to drive much larger business results.

And of course—if you don’t have the resources internally to ensure that your exhibition strategy is data driven, contact your favorite Marketing Communications Agency to help.