Part 1 - How to Prepare for a Trade Show and Justify Your Budget

You're back in the office after the show. You've thanked everyone, collected all the leads–and even collected more leads this year. The show was a success! As you prepare next year's budget and you think about why it was a success, and why your budget should be increased (or not decreased), you're forced to justify your participation in each show and simply increasing leads isn't enough. So what's next? Prepare in advance for budget justifications by following the guidelines that are outlined below.

Step One

Start by clearly defining your goals, the purpose for participating in the show and how success will be measured – in advance. Include tangible and intangible goals. Typical goals and measurement methods are as follows:


How to Measure

Exhibit Efficiency or Return on Objectives (ROO)

This is the percentage of a company's total audience with whom the exhibitor had “meaningful engagement”. As an example, If the total show audience is 10,000 and you had 75 visitors, and 20 of those visitors requested demos or scheduled a follow-up meeting; then, your exhibit efficiency is 20 divided by 75 or 26.6%. As you start comparing your exhibit efficiency across shows, you'll be able to see which shows provide more value.


Measure the percentage of show attendees that visited your exhibit by dividing the number of people who registered at your booth by the total show attendance (or, if available, the total number of attendees from your target audience). Survey attendees as they leave the show or after the show (dependent on show management's approval) to determine if they recall your exhibit and what their perceptions were. An average of 73% of an exhibit visitors remember stopping by, 8 to 10 weeks following a show.

Reach when Compared to Competitors

Measure your booth attendance versus your competitors' booths each hour to evaluate the effectiveness of your exhibit, pre-show marketing, and brand awareness. If you know the show attendance for each day, you can also determine how much of the audience you're reaching compared to your competitors.

Quality of Leads

Evaluate the quality of your attendees against the show's overall attendance (using post-show audience data that's typically provided by show management). Do the show's surveys indicate a higher level of technical attendees versus what you saw at your booth? Did you attract more or fewer attendees interested in specific products than the show average?

Value of Leads

Survey (in person or via an online survey) your sales team. What did your sales team think of the show? Did they see the right people in your booth? Were the attendees from your prospective customer base? Was the staffing sufficient to allow them to spend adequate time with prospects?

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