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10 Trade Show Statistics To Help Maximize ROI

When you’re trying to implement new marketing strategies to improve your ROI, a Google search for content marketing ideas can make you feel like you’re grasping at straws.

Video production, organic social media, Facebook ads, webinars, and other content marketing tactics all require resources that you may not have access to or be ready to utilize just yet. You also might not have the time to commit to learning about these options when you’re looking for immediate results.

In the constantly evolving stages of content marketing, what if an often overlooked strategy remains one of those most effective? That strategy is a simple face-to-face meeting and a handshake.

The Content Marketing Institute seems to agree. In-person events remain one of the most effective forms of content marketing.

There is always a debate surrounding the most effective methods for generating leads. You’re here because you understand that all leads are not created equal. From a single trade show, how many leads do you think you can generate? 100? 300? 500?

Leads from in-person events, such as trade shows, have a unique advantage over leads sourced through the phone or internet: they have a face attached to them. You get to understand the client’s needs, and they get to understand your capabilities, in a much more comprehensive manner than would be possible in any chat log or email chain. How long would it take to organize hundreds of face-to-face meetings between your sales team and leads? This tedious process could take months, even for the most efficient teams. If you plan correctly for a trade show, you can consolidate hundreds of these meetings into a single weekend.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of ten helpful trade show statistics that are sure to maximize your ROI and make your next exhibiting experience memorable and worthwhile – for both your company and your clients.

1. Trade Shows Deliver Unique Value

Let’s double down on the fact that not all leads are created equal.

99% of businesses that exhibit at trade shows can attest to this claim. These businesses report that trade shows offer unique value that can’t be provided by other marketing channels, which is why they spend so much time developing marketing strategies for exhibiting.

This concentration of in-person interactions leads to higher conversion rates at trade shows. These individuals are walking around and coming directly to you. The power of touch cannot be understated – eye contact and a handshake can leave a much more meaningful impression than online communication. Those visiting your booth have control of the engagement – they’re speaking to you because they want to learn more. Doesn’t that sound nice for a change? We spend all this money and effort to reach out and flag down passersby and here they are, seeking your company out in person.

Count them as pre-qualified leads. Maybe they’re on the fence, but them wandering into your space makes it easier for your sales staff to convert.

This is where the trade show follow-up comes in. It is highly important to follow up with every potential client who provided their information. Letting them know that you appreciated the opportunity to interact with them, and reminding them of the value you can provide their brand, is essential to the conversion. Even a quick “thank you” will go a long way.

2. Exhibitors Get More for Their Money

Attending trade shows is one of the most cost-efficient ways for exhibitors to make meaningful connections and generate high-potential leads.

The estimated cost of a face-to-face meeting with a lead at a trade show is $142. On the other hand, the cost of a regular in-person interaction at a potential client’s office would be roughly $259.

81% of trade show attendees hold buying power. Even if you stumble across the 19% who don’t, over half of them will be likely to schedule an appointment with one of your salespeople for a future date.

Even stepping away from your booth is a good way to make these types of connections. Meeting people on the floor, in the bar, and at other events within the show is a good way to branch out.

3. Goals: Exhibitors vs. Attendees

Exhibitors attend trade shows to pursue the following goals:

  1. Increase Sales
  2. Increase Brand Awareness
  3. Interact with existing clients

There’s a running theme here. Exhibitors tend to utilize trade shows for customer management. Not only do they actively seek out new customers, but they nurture existing relationships as well. It can be tough to maintain meaningful relationships with clients whom you have connected in the past.

What about attendees? The primary reason for attendees to visit trade shows is almost universal:

92% of trade show attendees are there to view demos of new products. Keep that in mind when planning. Offering up a new product or service is what will draw the most eyeballs – of both new and established customers – onto your exhibit.

4. Revenue Generated from Trade Show Meetings

Leads are nice, but revenue generation is what matters at the end of the day. Therefore, you want to make sure that you can experience revenue growth as a result of investing in trade show exhibits.

The Oxford Economics and Events Industry Council found that 6 million international participants generated $38 billion directly from trade show meetings.

There is plenty of revenue to be made. Good preparation pays dividends to those who exhibit at trade shows. We hope that the statistics within this article help you carve out a plan to maximize your potential at a show before attending.

5. Attendees are likely to find new suppliers

If you don’t flaunt your brand and its competitive advantages at trade shows, your competition will. Showing off your brand at events like these will keep you at the top of the customers’ minds, and deflect attention away from your competitors.

77% of attendees will find, at a minimum, one new supplier – and that goes to show that they’re actively looking. A trade show boils down to leading the horse to water, and you want to make sure that potential clients are being led to the right place.

If you want to learn about how to attract the 77% of attendees who are looking for new a new supplier, read these secrets to success.

6. Companies Dedicate Jobs to Event Planning

The companies gaining the most benefit from trade shows understand their ROI so well that they often hire dedicated staff whose only job is to focus on the handful of events that the company prepares for each year.

These are positions called event planning and management employees, and this tactic is becoming more and more prevalent as the competition skyrockets.

Now, we aren’t suggesting you go recruit event planning majors at the state university down the road… But your competitors are. The very least you can do is exhibit at these trade shows and define to the attendees how you stand out from alternative options. You don’t need your own event planner to do this, just a knowledgeable team of employees to attract your potential leads.

7. Retention is Important

Let’s move on to think about nurturing the relationships you already have established. Over half of marketers have said that trade shows and similar events also help to strengthen their existing customer relationships.

This act of relationship nurturing helps to ensure that your connection with clients stays strong throughout the years, and keeps both sides up-to-date on changes and important aspects of your business relationship. Nobody wants to work with a client that feels stagnant – show off to your existing customers what you’ve been working on recently to keep things fresh and engaging.

8. 1/4 of Marketing Budgets Go Towards Events

To further investigate how much companies dedicate towards trade shows, let’s take a look at their budget allocation.

Studies show that B2B companies spend 29% of their entire marketing budget on live events such as trade shows, while B2C companies spend about 19% of their marketing budget. This may seem excessive to the naked eye, given the relative infrequency of these major events. However, based on these expenditures, it’s clear to see how important these companies feel trade shows are for their customer relationships, brand recognition, and sales.

With all of the planning, designing, and renting that goes into a successful exhibition, these numbers make sense. Strategically using trade show services can help to improve cost and time efficiency and develop a quality representation of your brand.

9. Tech Tactics

Trade show exhibit booths are evolving. They’re a practical use of space, often used not only as an eye-catcher but also as a useful way to allow your leads to interact with your brand. By extending your booth with computer portals or gimmicks like photo booths and other interactive displays and software, you can draw extended retention within your exhibit booth.

Of the most popular technologies that marketers use to give them a competitive edge, 45% say photo booths are the most popular, 44% use event apps, and another 44% use live streaming tools.

The use of live streaming is a brand new concept. Technology for these kinds of tools has only been around for a handful of years. However, the companies utilizing this tactic are reaping the benefits. For example, the best sellers of cheap Cialis online. For example, trade show organizers have found that those interested enough to watch a live stream of an event are 30% more likely to attend the following year.

That’s a huge advantage for your company. If you can live stream from your exhibit, you’ll be at the forefront of potential customers’ minds for the following year, and all those new attendees will want to visit your exhibit.

The companies that find the most success from in-person events prove themselves to be thought leaders. Incorporating a variety of high-tech aspects to your exhibit, as trivial as they may seem, will build up your company’s image and reputation.

10. How You Pioneer Industry Trends

We have covered how attendees want to see “new.” That’s great, but not every business can come to each trade show with a brand new product. In today’s world, if you plan to exhibit at three trade shows, by the third one, your novel new product will no longer retain its novelty.

So how do you stay fresh? You need to own the new trends in your industry. If you find ways to show how your company is leading in a particular way, that’s your free way of bringing something “new” to the event.

Let’s just take the fast-moving consumer goods industry as an example. In 2018, e-commerce equated about 6% of total FMCG sales. Nielson reports that by 2022, e-commerce will swell to the excess of $400b, accounting for 12% of total FMCG sales.

If you’re an FMCG manufacturer, you can educate your leads on subjects like this, and describe how you plan to add value to your customers with this new information in mind.

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Trade Show ROI – Measuring Your Return on Investment

Measuring Event Return

Before attending a trade show, what’s your strategy for determining your company’s return on investment (ROI)?

How can you increase your ROI while attending an event?

ROI is a measurement of profitability on an investment or an expense. As we know, developing an ROI strategy for a trade show or event is critical to measuring your performance. You can get companies like NGP IMC services to help you with this.

However, due to lack of understanding ROI, some companies begin to see trade shows as an expense and begin cutting them from their budget. Whilst many understand the importance of this aspect, such as the mj tech companies rising in strength and profits, even some of the most experienced marketing professionals can have trouble creating an ROI strategy.

Anthony Miller, Chief Marketing Officer of Lanyon admitted that he himself did not have a strategy going in.

Anthony Miller Calulating ROI

“We cut a number of trade shows because I was unable to tell you what we got in return for it. So we focused on the ones we could see a return from and started to build backup. I urge you to spend as much of your time as you can to find those metrics. It can be a yawner, but fundamentally for me the metrics are what will feed our ability to continue to do events…”

Recently, BizBash and eTouches released a report that analyzed how event planners defined ROI. Some event planners believe ROI is extremely important. However, each one defined it as one single measurement (ex: people walking into your booth). Looking at event ROI through one lens can skew the measured value that actually came out of the trade show. Moving away from a singularity approach to a more holistic approach in calculating trade show ROI is key in measuring success.

A Holistic Approach to Event ROI


Whether attending a conference, exhibition, or trade show, starting with a holistic approach to measuring your success could affect future trade show budgeting. If you define your ROI at an event as one single number (ex: people that signed up for your email list) your brand will miss the big picture.

Trade show marketing can leave impressions on attendees without you fully realizing it. Collecting the origination data from future purchases, contract signings, or other sales data could reveal the affects of your trade show appearance.

Collecting data is one of the most important factors to proving your ROI to the managers in charge of your marketing budget. This is where Key Performance Indicators (KPI(s) come in handy.

KPI’s are sets of data that act as your key objectives while attending the trade show. Some examples of KPI’s are booth traffic, number of trade show leads collected, business card hand outs, purchases, etc. Sites like Http:// are helping businesses identify some key metrics and KPIs that they can use to benchmark and analyse the performance of any strategy over time. Why not visit their site for more information!

For instance, if you’re a food vendor trying to build brand awareness around a new pizza franchise you’re starting, you may measure the number of samples you handed out, the number of attendees who’ve been through your restaurants unique brand experience, or the number of coupons distributed to attendees. Similar experience with . You might be able to gauge the success of marketing strategies such as the branded inflatables you use (look here for examples), by looking at the numbers of people that noticed your stand compared to when they were not used.

Each event you attend will be different, so plan accordingly and adapt your business goals and KPI’s to the target audience. Once you define how you are going to calculate KPI(s) you need to determine the best way to collect the data.

Using Technology to Measure ROI

Technology is making it easier to collect critical data for measuring your trade show ROI. With more flexible platforms such as tablets and kiosks, getting information about your target audience is easier than ever.


A lot of brands have used games, free giveaways, and contests to get trade show attendees to fill our their information. Utilizing technology such as your company’s CRM, email marketing platforms, or event management software can be critical for storing lead information.

This information can be used to create a great experience associated with your brand. Whether it’s a grand prize winner, a fun giveaway game, or even an email marketing campaign that provides helpful information to your subscribers so they can be more effective at trade shows.

Trade show KPI’s can be an effective starting point for future marketing campaigns. For example you can use email sign ups for future email marketing campaigns and create new KPI’s such as open rates, responses, and conversions.

Profit / Investment = ROI

The direct definition of ROI is a percentage. The percentage represents your return on the expense invested. Calculating ROI for trade shows is smart, effective, and can produce actionable data to help improve your event success…

But, Engagement + Brand Image also = ROI

Trade show ROI metrics can tell a story, but sometimes not the full story. Transforming a prospective consumers’ interaction with your brand from “meh” to advocacy is something that isn’t measurable in post trade show evaluation. The experience your brand delivers has a long-term effect on the people you’ve interacted, and it’s tough to put into numbers.

One way to try to put it into numbers is by tracking the sale. Asking your customers, “How did you find us,” is a small yet effective way of understanding the lingering effects of your trade show experience.

Pick The Right Event


It may seem obvious but a lot of businesses waste their time going to a conference or a trade show that they shouldn’t be at. There are two types of events to focus on. Determining which to attend depends on your goals.

Direct to Consumer Shows

Is your company’s goal to make a sale as soon as possible? Maybe you have a product that needs buyers right now or you need test a product that’s still in the research phase. You need to go where your consumers are. Attend a show that may not be specific to your industry but specific to your target audience.

Trade Only Shows

These types of shows are specific to your industry. They may have buyers, your competition, or industry influencers who are analyzing and interacting with new brands. This is a good time to simply make your service or product better.

Learn and interact with other vendors to get ideas on what shows they attend and how they are currently marketing their business. These trade shows naturally have some buyers who attend the show looking to do business in your industry, however your top goal at these events is not typically sales oriented.

Budget: Project vs Actual

Staff at events tend to measure the R.O.I by comparing the project budget to the actual budget. By maintaining good records, a company can easily add up the cost of an event but assessing the revenue generated by that event can be complex. New contacts acquired during the trade show has the potential to improve the bottom line but is potentially hard to quantify. Determining how to value the sales revenue generated from a new or existing customer who visited the event is important to do before the show. When calculating budget is important to be as consistent as possible to give the opportunity to compare on a yearly basis.

Return on Investment in a Booth


Do you have booth space at the event or are you simply an attendee? Having an exhibit or display at an event turns your strategy into a more inbound approach, allowing consumers to come to you instead of you going to the consumer.

If consumers are engaged with your booth they will associate that experience with your brand. This is why it is so important to get a booth design that stands out from the others. Take your time working with your exhibit design team and get ideas from people who have experience in this field.

A display, whether a rental or custom design, increases your return but also increases investment. The appearance of your booth gives a first impression to a consumer in under one second. That impression is associated with your brand in the blink of an eye. Make sure you get an exhibit done by experienced professionals who won’t leave quality design to chance. It could make or break your success at a trade show.

When you have an exhibit that is designed well it can turn events into a positive ROI machine. This machine is one that many companies use as the their number one sales tactic.

It’s good to know that a lot of factors can skew the final return on investment at a trade show. The location of your booth can determine the amount of foot traffic you get. If optional, choose a location close to a stage or an area that will receive a lot of visibility. Making foot traffic a KPI can create varied resultsin your data.

Communication Before the Show

Social media can be used to tip off your target audience of your appearance at an event. Leading up to show, should be heavily communicating your appearance. This will get more people to seek you out while at the event instead of leaving it up to them stumbling upon your booth.

Experiences During the Show

Interactive Engagement to Improve ROI by NIKE

Nike took over an entire streetcar and turned it into the Snkrs Xpress

Another way exhibitors increase ROI at events is by having creative activities or game ideas before entering an event can increase engagement with your booth.

Training your event staff to engage with your audience in an effective manner can cultivate more opportunities to increase your return.

This is were thinking outside of the box can go a long way in separating your brand from other exhibitors at the expo.

After the Show

As you are preparing for the actions you’ll take during the show, your staff should be prepared for post show action. A specific plan should be in place to follow up on all potential prospects or centers of influence met at the trade show.

Creating post-show sales and marketing strategies can increase return on event budget.


Developing the 360 degree program to calculate ROI is considered one of the most difficult parts of event planning but done, it can easily be adapted to new trade show appearances. Remember to understand your audiences reasoning for attending a show before creating any of your strategies.

How do you measure trade show booth success?

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