Are Trade Shows Worth It? How To Measure Trade Show Effectiveness

Posted by Josh Terceira on Sep 26, 2019 1:33:01 PM


Are trade shows worth it? It’s a question marketers (and their bosses) ask after every show. You have a limited marketing budget, so it’s important to know that your exhibition spend is worthwhile. Get the rundown on how to measure trade show effectiveness below, where we identify three typical goals marketers seek to achieve at trade shows and key ways to determine their value.

3 Typical Trade Show Goals & Objectives (& How To Measure Them)

1. Leads

Crowd of people at a trade show

Many marketers’ top priority for exhibiting at trade shows is lead generation, or adding people to the sales funnel.

When it comes to leads, the average ROI for trade shows can be measured in different ways. One measurement you may use is to compare the cost of closing a sale with an exhibition lead versus a non-exhibition lead. One study put those costs at $2,188 (for an exhibition lead) and $3,102 (for a non-exhibition lead). That’s a $914 savings per prospect if the lead comes from an exhibition.

Depending on the length and complexity of your sales cycle, you may be focused on quantity or quality. For example, if you sell products that people could potentially purchase same day, you likely are looking to generate as many leads as possible. On the other end, if you sell complex services with multi-month or even multi-year sales cycles, you’re probably more concerned about getting qualified leads.

Keep your sales cycle in mind when trying to measure the success of your exhibition. The longer the sales cycle, the longer it takes to realistically identify the value of your trade show efforts. (Tweet this!) Try these methods for measuring trade show success if lead generation is your goal:

  • If your focus is lead quantity: Prior to the show, set a goal for the number of leads you want. Track progress throughout show, and inform and adjust accordingly with sales team to determine how they might dial up their efforts to get more people into the sales funnel.
  • If your focus is lead quality: Prior to the show, work with the sales team to create questions and criteria for qualifying leads. For example, as an exhibit house, we ask prospects questions like, How many months out do you plan for an event? and What do you find valuable about existing relationships? Questions like these help us prioritize prospects. You can determine initial success by how clear and confident prospects’ answers are.

2. Brand Awareness

Branded environment - Salesforce

Some companies exhibit at trade shows for the purpose of increasing brand awareness. However, measuring brand awareness is a bit tricky since it’s less tangible than a given number of leads.

There are two proxy methods that may indicate whether your trade show efforts are bearing awareness fruit:

  • Count booth impressions. These are the number of attendees that come into your branded environment. Pay close attention to people who stick around to talk to sales staff or revisit your space later in the day. It’s important to note that the real value here is the quality of the impression. When you compare to other tactics like digital ads or content marketing, the face-to-face impact can be worth more per marketing dollar spent. That’s not surprising given the fact that 74% of consumers are more likely to buy after engaging with branded event marketing experiences.
  • Track website and social media traffic. In the weeks leading up to the show, check if your website is experiencing increased traffic as a result of any pre-show mailers or announcements you sent out. The same goes for show days, where you’ll probably see more pronounced traffic spikes from booth visitors. The weeks after the show are also important—maybe even more important than the other time frames—because they showcase awareness retention.

3. Media Coverage

Branded environment - Scorpion

Media coverage can help add visibility to your brand, and it lies somewhere between leads and brand awareness—it’s not exactly countable, but you can often attribute success to it in some manner. Here are a few ways you could measure trade show effectiveness through media coverage:

  • Were you able to secure an interview with a journalist? This could be for an industry or trade magazine, or a popular influencer in your space. Your commentary could inspire a prospect to reach out to your organization.
  • Was your Branded Environment featured anywhere? Whether in an article or social media post, this represents a great opportunity for your brand to be seen by a wider audience.
  • Were you able to speak at the event? Nothing says authority like being a keynote speaker or leading a panel or session.

How do you measure trade show effectiveness at your organization? Tweet us and let us know!


Topics: Featured, Trade Show ROI