“There is nothing so unbelievable that oratory cannot make it acceptable,” said Cicero, probably while majestically gazing out at the hills of Rome. Such a scenario naturally turns your mind to the yearly budget you’re crafting. Hear us out! Getting your senior stakeholders on board with your efforts calls for a keen power of persuasion.
Since we happen to know a few CEOs, we’ve gathered a list of winning strategies straight from the source. Follow this advice to get yourself aligned with your managers and watch your trade show program plans get approved.
Look at what works
Before you go in, look to the past. Ask yourself the hard questions. Which shows or events accomplished what you needed them to? Which ones didn’t, and why? At the same time, don’t be afraid to let go of your favorites. Even your preferred shows might need some strategic trimming.
Make a steel-trap plan
Make a plan that includes a buffer. Spend the time to really detail where your proposed budget dollars are going. Consider both long-term and short-term results and be prepared to justify what the results are likely to be and what you’ll need to deliver them.
Don’t submit a budget plan that looks exactly like the one you handed in last year—yes, even if you had an outstanding one. Be prepared to redeploy dollars from one effort to another to stretch their impact. “Last year we spent $15k on X, but this year it would be better-spent on Y. Here’s why.”
And when you have that plan? Add a cushion to eliminate surprises. The economy ebbs and flows, and a venue change can increase show costs by 150%. When your forecast accounts for this, you’re a genius. When your forecast accounts for this and you end up with money left over, you’re a beautiful genius.
Ready? Negotiate like you went to law school
It may seem obvious, but just walking into your manager’s office, crossing your arms, and announcing, “We need 15% more in the budget for next year!” doesn’t work. (Despite the times we’ve seen it done again and again.) Good thing you’ve already done your homework and have a specific plan for where the money’s going.
Be careful not to focus too much on the one thing you want most unless you’re certain you have a bulletproof case. Focus on all things equally, and be prepared to part with a few. If you absolutely can’t let go of certain ideas, build justifiable interdependencies.
Think about the literal paper and pen of your presentation. Reams of paper containing data with no context? Heft that over to the recycling. Friend in a nebulous marketing department who has all the latest insight, without anything to back it? Put their number on mute.
When you have it all together, hand over your carefully-researched stats and arguments in a neat executive summary which succinctly demonstrates your points in a well-crafted context. Stick to the facts, and your senior stakeholders will thank you.