Last week, we attended the Remodeling Show in Chicago. We carefully prepared for the event, which you can read more about here. As a team, we wanted to get the most out of our attendance—not just in dollar value, but in cultivating the relationships that we work on every day. We were fortunate enough to spend some time with many of our contractors that week, as well as reach out to some who wanted to know more about us.

But, the important question has yet to be answered—was it worth it? Were those two days worth the preparation, the thousands of dollars, and the time away from our families? Did our careful planning make any difference at all? Although that big question appears to be simple, it really is anything but. It will take time—maybe months, or longer—to really determine the actual value of our attendance.

But what about the perceived value? We know that our time, effort, and money were warranted (at least, we think we know). It’s not a gut feeling; it’s the number and quality of companies with which we spoke, the time we were able to spend with our contractors, and the ability to meet people face-to-face. It was also a fantastic bonding experience for the team.

Or, in George’s case, a great way to get to know the Chicago O’Hare airport, where he spent one long, sleepless night after missing his flight home.

George Chicago bed

Many of these items can’t possibly be quantified at this time, but does that mean that they don’t matter? Justin would probably say yes, but he really, really likes math. I would argue that perceived value does matter, although it must be backed up accordingly with something more substantial.

So, right after a trade show, what can you prove? To start, you can compare the number of prospects and referrals from your most recent show to previous ones. You might also note the sources of those referrals—are the same individuals sending you consistent business? How qualified are your potential customers compared to previous events? Do you see any more business from the current customers you met in person and discussed how they might better use your program?

Start with your perceived value of the event, and try to measure anything you can. For now, the actual value will just have to wait.