Ways to Measure Your Tradeshow's ROI

Tradeshow ROI

Attending a tradeshow can be a large investment of time and money. When making exhibiting decisions and how your company is going to allocate its resources, it is helpful to have a way of measuring the tradeshow’s Return on Investment (ROI).

Calculating the ROI is important if your position requires communicating the value of exhibiting to others in the company. Here are some guidelines for how to measure and analyze your tradeshow ROI.

  1. Define your goals: Having measurable, defined goals is a good starting point for measuring the value of attending a tradeshow. How does your company define success? Clear, measurable goals include generating a certain number of leads, creating a certain amount of jobs from those leads, or simply earning a profit from the leads generated at the show. There are additional goals for attending a tradeshow such as raising brand awareness, networking, learning, maintaining existing customer relationships, etc. However, while these goals are important, they are harder (and often impossible) to track with specific numbers. In order to calculate specific numbers for ROI, keep your main focus on goals than can be given a value such as profits and number of leads generated. (The other goals can come back into play during discussions and analysis.)
  2. Develop a Tracking Method: Record each new lead generated at the show. Using a CRM system, create a tag or referral/source code to add to each contact based on the tradeshow where the lead was generated. This makes it possible to quickly pull data regarding any opportunities and sales that come from them. Make sure to update the records as time goes on. It is important to keep the length of your sales cycle in mind when tracking ROI, as it may take weeks or months to earn business from the new leads, and even years to see the full value of the leads. That doesn’t mean you have to wait years to measure ROI, but generally wait until the length of a full sales cycle has passed before considering the data ready to analyze.
  3. Calculate/Measure ROI: With all this data now in your CRM, it’s time to get down to measuring ROI. Here’s what to do…

a. Expenses: First, determine a number for the cost of your investment. How much did you invest to attend the tradeshow? This is important to track and record because not all tradeshows cost the same to attend. Factors include your booth size, location, and labor required.

Include costs for:

- Floor space for exhibiting
- Booth and shipping
- Labor
- Travel and Hotel Expenses
- Promotional items and collateral

b. Revenue and Profits: Using the tags created in your CRM, pull data to determine how much revenue has been generated from the tradeshow leads. You then subtract the expenses to get your ROI, in terms of profit. You may want to do this at different time periods to see how the number grows over time. Sometimes it takes years to see the full value of a lead that turns into a repeat customer.

c. Lifetime Customer Value (LCV): After comparing expenses to revenue, and determining how much the company profited from the leads generated at your show, there are more long-term methods for tracking tradeshow ROI. Overtime you can track how much tradeshow leads are worth versus other forms of lead generation methods like online ads or cold calls. For instance, customers you generate from a tradeshow may on average have a higher LCV than customers you generate from online ads. This is important to know when deciding how much to invest in exhibiting at tradeshows. You can also start to track the LCV from each specific tradeshow to see which generate the highest LCV.

4. Analyze, Make Decisions, and Optimize: Now that you have solid numbers to look at, it’s time to analyze the data, make future decisions, and optimize your tradeshow exhibiting performance.

Here are some points to consider:

a. ROI is not a fixed number for each show, as there are many factors involved. The first few shows you attend may not result in huge ROIs, and that isn’t necessarily a direct result of the tradeshow and attendees. It may mean that your staff needs more practice and the booth needs tweaking. This is why it’s important to continue tracking and measuring, and not consider ROI tracking one and done.

b. When making a final decision about attending future tradeshows it is important to remember and consider those less trackable goals, and their value to your company. Numbers are important and may be the basis for decisions, but the full effect of your attendance can seldom be determined based on them alone. They are necessary for seeing trends and comparing costs and expenses, but remember not everything can be measured by a number or dollar amount. For instance, attending tradeshows creates exposure for your company and maintains your presence with current and new customers and competitors. This is why having discussions about the numbers and entire exhibiting experience is important follow-up for after the show.

c. You can use data to analyze your show performance and optimize your exhibiting success. Maybe you find that when you gather x amount of leads or use a certain strategy your ROI increases or decreases. Use these metrics to tweak your exhibiting strategy and track your progress over time.

One way to increase ROI is to follow up with attendees after the show. Click here to read, "Your Trade Show Event is Over. Here are 4 Tips When It’s Time to Follow Up."

Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings over 78 years of experience to its clients in need of recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics. For more information about Adler Display, please visit our website at www.adlerdisplay.com or call us at: 855-552-3537.