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What Is The ROI On Trade Show? Five Ways To Maximize Your Return


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From time to time Marketing Executives are forced to revisit their budgets and reduce costs. We all have been there. We are increasingly forced to produce more with fewer resources. Attending Trade Shows tends to be on the Top Five List of expenses that might be cut; along with people, compensation, promotional materials and advertise, not necessarily in this order (Source: my fifteen years of Marketing experience.

It is very difficult to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) on Trade Shows; primarily, because very little sales are done on the Trade Show floors. Also, leads generated at these events are usually not acknowledged until a Sales Rep has to justify attending the next trade show that happens to be in Las Vegas.

So- Does Trade Show Really Work?

Attending trade shows may not always help your numbers, but not attending them will hurt your business whether you are participating with a booth or just attending. It’s nearly impossible to quantify brand exposure, industry recognition, networking activities, and continue education in Trade Shows attendance. And these are what you can always count on if the show is done right and you do a good job of what you are supposed to do.

So here are some suggestions to help you get all of the benefits a good Trade Show has to offer:

1. Think ahead.
If you are not outsourcing the set up of your booth, you must anticipate everything you will need while you are there. And if you are still reading this, chances are that you have been delegated this task. Ship things earlier than you think you should, unless the show has strict regulations about receiving packages prior to the show. Advance your shipping by two weeks if you are attending an international trade show.

Reserve your booth space as soon as registration is open, so your booth doesn’t end up on the way to the bathroom. Book your hotel at that time. You want to stay where most of your customers and prospects are staying. Send reminder cards with your booth information and the fantastic giveaway to your customers and prospects no later than ten days before the show. Make a list of whom you want to target. It’s best to have a check list to remind you of the things people tend to forget; such as giveaways, flowers, table cloth, banners, utensils, carpet, and business cards, target list are a few examples.

2. Bring plenty of business cards.
You must be thinking who would forget to take business cards to a trade show, right? But many experienced people do. Some may even forget the business cards in their hotel room. Others will run out of them before the end of the show. Take them to breakfast, keynote speeches, workshops and even area attractions. You never know when you will bump into a hot prospect.

3. Less is more.
Stick to one or two things you want people to remember. You have 90 seconds to make a good impression before your prospect loses interest. Blabbing away about your product or service will reduce your 90 seconds to half. And you don’t need those expensive brochures. Most buyers will arrive at the show with a plan. They don’t have time to see everyone and they don’t want to. So if they make a detour to your booth, be grateful, courteous and friendly in 90 seconds, this is how much time you will have to grab their attention, make a good impression and set the bait.

4. Floor of Attraction.
Lights, color, food, pictures and location are keys to great booth traffic. Everyone has this knowledge down to a science. When everything is equal, the variance is the people manning your booth. Smiles and attitudes are the floor of attraction. Make sure you are staffing your booth with people who want to be there. Even the most competent sales person can be hung over or not in a happy mood.

5. Follow up.
Unfortunately, there is a likely chance that every prospect you met will be contacted by every competitor on the floor. Writing personal notes on your 90 seconds of personal conversation will gain you points and possibly a future meeting. If you have done your home work, you know something about everyone you want to meet. Use things such as recent promotion or vacation, area attraction, keynote speaker, etc. Now, if you really want to make the cut and secure your front runner place with that prospect before anyone else does, send them a personal e-mail on the day you meet them on the trade floor. Most people will check their e-mails during trade show and there is a good chance that you may see those prospects again before the end of the show. That short e-mail needs to thank him for stopping by, entice them at a glance from the preview window and ask for a meeting. This will only get you the customer, not the sale.

Ana Barreto, President of Blue Hudson Group, a Sales & Marketing Consulting Company, specialized in Sales Training, Leadership Development, Interpersonal Relationship workshops with MBTI and Women in Leadership Training. She is a 20 years veteran in the Hospitality Industry and has worked for Marriott Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Holiday Inns and others. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Marketing from Marymount College and a MBA from University of New Haven. Visit for more information.


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