When you are evaluating events for your marketing plan, choosing from among the sea of options can be a daunting task.

To help you get to the bottom of it and focus your time and energy on events that offer true value, here’s an expert list of 15 questions you want to ask every event host (or ask of yourself, if you are the one doing the hosting).

Armed with answers to these questions, you will have a very clear understanding of the value each event provides and your decision-making process will be quick and painless.

  1. How long has the event been running?

The longer it’s been running, the more history you’ll have to evaluate.

  1. Do you have any case studies from past sponsors you can share?

Case studies (plural) can provide you the perspective of your peers.

What did they get out of the event? Why do they return? 

  1. Do you have past sponsors that would serve as a reference?

Can I contact them?

Have an unfiltered conversation with a peer to get your most important

questions addressed, without the presence of the show organizer.

  1. How many sponsors have returned from last year?

If there are over 10-15 sponsors and exhibitors returning, ask them to

provide you the percent. Be wary if the percentage is below 50.

  1. Who is the organizer of the event? What is their primary business

and reputation?

There are several organizers who have a less than stellar reputation.

Get to know these names and steer clear of their events.

  1. If an executive profile is director and up, what percentage of your

audience is executive?

Will you be talking to influencers or decision makers? Know this ahead

of time as this will determine who you send from your team and more

importantly if this event is even a right fit for you. A show is more likely to

deliver quick hits and returns when over 50% of attendees are executive level.

  1. Is there a fee for participants? What are they paying for? How much

are they paying?

This is an important question to ask, because if they are not paying, they

are not committed. If they are not committed, the number of “registered”

and the number of “attending” can prove to be two different numbers. In

fact, numbers could drop by 50% or greater! Additionally, even if they show,

that doesn’t mean they will attend sessions, exhibit halls, etc. If they are

paying a significant fee (between $1,000 to $5,000) they are likely to

attend from beginning to end.

  1. If the meeting is based on guaranteed meetings, is the agreement

two ways? Would the prospects also have chosen us?

Many organizers of these events will guarantee a meeting with a

participant, regardless of whether they want to meet you. This, in turn,

becomes an expensive and wasted meeting.

  1. If the meeting is based on guaranteed meetings, what is being offered

to the participant in exchange? Waived participant fee? Hotel? Air?

If the participants get a free ride to have meetings with you, the foundation

of the meeting is tainted. Think about the last time you were pitched a time

share for a holiday club. Did you want to sit through the sales pitch, or did

you just want the free weekend away? 

  1. Can I see past reviews of the content?

Content is the number one reason participants choose an event. If the

content does not deliver, neither will the event.

  1. Are speaking opportunities purchased?

This goes back to the value of the content. If the organizer is selling the

speaking opportunities, they are not vetting the content.

  1. How many non-sponsor participants attend?

When asked how many people are attending, many organizers will give

a total number which includes the sponsors. At the trade shows in

particular, the vendors tend to outnumber the prospects.

    What’s your value proposition for sponsors? What makes you unique?

After a while, you’ll feel that all the events start to blend, but there are a

few that truly stand out and have a unique value proposition. Those are

the events that your team will want to attend. Those are the events that

will likely generate your greatest returns.

  1. What should I expect as a return?

First ask, what are you seeking, and then make the match. Are you looking

to fill a database or a pipeline? Are you seeking quantity or quality? How

will you follow up with these contacts? How will you generate a return?

What is your Measure of Performance (MOP)?

    Who are your competitors?

By learning who they compete with, you’ll better understand the organizers

primary business while also discovering new events to evaluate.