There is an old cliché in the marketing industry: “Half of my marketing is effective. The problem is, I don’t know which half.”
The fact is, most people don’t really know if their marketing programs are effective and, if so, which ones are effective and how effective they are.
Although there are some aspects of marketing that are somewhat ephemeral (more art than science), most marketing efforts should be and can be measured. The key is to have SMART goals for each objective and then to design and implement a metric device that can measure how the program is performing in relation to the objective.
That means that you can’t just exhibit at a trade show, put some pens (or magnets, or mugs, or flying discs, or whatever) on your table and think you had a successful show because those items are all when it's time to pack up. When you implement any type of marketing campaign, no matter what media is used, you must have some sort of call-to-action and/or specific objective associated with it in order to determine the results.
Remember that a complete strategic plan for any marketing campaign includes: 1) an objective, preferably a SMART goal 2) a tie-in to your branding or event theme 3) a call-to-action 4) a system to measure results 5) a person responsible for seeing the program through from beginning (planning) to end (final evaluation of results).
When it comes right down to it, wouldn't you prefer to know "which half" of your marketing is working for you so that you can put your time, effort and resources into that and ditch the unproductive half? The effort involved in understanding your marketing success stories means that your marketing has become an investment in business growth rather than an expense in possible futility.