Last week, I got an email from Spencer from Hilltop.net, asking me if we’d be exhibiting at the 2009 Kentucky Convention.

To answer:  Yes, Spencer, we will be there.

We’ll also be at the Independent Funeral Directors of Florida convention in June and the NFDA show in Boston in October.  Spencer shared in his email that he is planning to attend the Missouri show this year and expand from there.

This brings up the exciting but often worrisome questions, “how many conventions should I attend?”  and “How do I choose the right convention opportunities?”

While I’m a big fan of “going with your gut,” I like to start any convention decision process by looking at the numbers.  That’s why I’ve created a spreadsheet to analyze exactly how much each convention will cost us and how much product we’ll have to sell to “break even,” so to speak.

Here’s the spreadsheet that I’ve been using:

CONVENTION DATE BOOTH HOTEL TRAVEL MEALS PROMO MISC. TOTAL GOAL
KFDA 6/25/2008 $570 $490 $420 $240 $90 $187 $1,997 40
NFDA 10/12/2008 $4,800 $280 $100 $300 $100 $100 $5,680 114
GA Expo 3/1/2009 $550 $248 $110 $165 $50 $50 $1,173 23
Ohio FDA 5/25/2009 $650 $360 $325 $200 $50 $100 $1,685 34
IFDF 6/12/2009 $0 $260 $65 $85 $50 $50 $510 10
KFDA 6/24/2009 $570 $500 $300 $360 $50 $150 $1,930 39
NFDA 10/22/2009 $2,500 $550 $800 $300 $150 $600 $4,900 98

You will notice that I’ve included a few past conventions, to show you how we’ve done in the past.

For the 2008 Kentucky convention, I planned on spending less than $2000 and we did.  But I based my cost estimate on a plan to spend just $50 per cover sold toward marketing.  Since we only sold 32 covers, we actually spent $62.50 per item, exceeding my budget.

Of course, it sometimes works out for the better.  While the 2008 NFDA show was almost 3 times the cost, we sold 153 covers, making our per-cover cost just over $37.

The Georgia Expo was a success, as we sold 22 covers – one shy of our goal.  Likewise, the IFDF goal should be in easy reach, since a free booth (I’m presenting two seminars for CE’s during the conference) gives us just 10 covers to sell to meet our costs.

Of course, we also have to take into account the dates of each convention, the availability of staff and capital to invest in these events and the travel distance.

Interestingly, our sales to Internet shoppers and wholesale companies are dropping right now, no doubt because of the general economic slowdown and the uneasiness that most business people feel right now.  And I don’t see the trend changing within the next six months, so anyone selling products to funeral directors needs to find other ways to reach out and encourage a sale.

That’s why we’ll be attending even more conventions this year.  While I won’t be going to Missouri (just to far away for us to drive in a single day), we are hoping to add the Ohio Convention to our list and possibly pick up a smaller state show somewhere in between.

Stay tuned!

If  you want a copy of our spreadsheet, you can view it as a Google Document and copy the formulas.  Or email me at finalembraceonline@gmail.com and we’ll send the original Excel version to you.

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