How to Measure Trade Show ROI

- Monday, December 12, 2011

Here are some steps on measuring your trade show ROI:

Get Your Leads:  Gather up your list of trade show leads from each show. At least do the shows you really want to track first, like the expensive or largest shows. Find out who came to your trade show booth and put the list in Excel. You’ll need the spreadsheet for extra columns and calculations.

Get Your Customer List: Somewhere in your company is a list of all your customers and what they bought. It may not be neat and tidy and available, but it is there somewhere. It may be in a database, it may be invoices…you may need to look and compile.

Compare Leads to Customers: Look up every company listed as a lead that visited your trade show booth to see if they are also in your customer database. Are they there? If yes, add in your leads Excel file a column that says “bought” and mark them as Yes. Then add a column and type in how much they spent.
Calculate ROI: When you total up the sales you can attribute to the trade show, compare that to the cost to exhibit at the show. So, if your sales were $100,000 and your costs were $10,000, then you've got an ROI of $100,000/$10,000 = 10 to 1. Now you have a yardstick to compare which trade shows to exhibit at and which ones to drop. And you have a metric to compare trade shows to other marketing media.

Bonus No. 1: Tracking New/Repeat Business: Keep track of the date of all sales from leads from the trade show. Were they already a client before the show? So, you helped influence a repeat client. Did they buy repeatedly after the show? Then total up all those sales, not just the first one. Did they buy for the first time after the show? Then your trade show lead became a new client.

Bonus No. 2: Tracking Product/Segments: If your client database has the info readily available, you can also check out and record on your spreadsheet what products and services they bought. Did they buy the new product you introduced at the show, or your popular existing products? Do the products and clients fall into more than one market segment for you? If so, see if the biggest segments were the ones you targeted at the show. You may be surprised, and you may want to change your trade show exhibit messaging and promotions.

It takes some work initially, but it is worth the effort to finally determine your Trade Show ROI.


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