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Running The Numbers: Metrics To Track For Trade Show Success

A lot of time, effort, and money goes into trade show marketing. You and your staff need to prepare brochures and other collateral to take to the event. You need to rehearse sales methods with your employees to help them hone their ability to engage booth visitors. And of course, a substantial amount of money needs to be spent on booth design, space rental, and travel expenses. The last thing you want to do is participate without knowing whether your resources are being put to good use. And that’s where tracking your numbers comes in.

By focusing on several important metrics, you can identify whether the money and time you’re spending on tradeshows is justified. You’ll be able to drill down to the event level, distinguishing shows that generate a positive ROI (return on investment) from those that cause your company to hemorrhage cash flow. Over time, your metrics will underscore where you should be devoting your attention and limited capital.

In this article, we’ll introduce several numbers you should be tracking for each tradeshow you and your staff attend. They can reveal costly problems that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Amount Spent (Pre-Show) Promoting Your Booth
Months before the event arrives, you should spend time promoting your appearance. Let your current customers know you’ll have a booth at the upcoming show, and invite them to visit. If you have an in-house email list of prospects, broadcast a short promo encouraging them to attend the event. Update your website to display information about the tradeshow and the precise location of your exhibit.

These efforts can be expensive, depending on how you spread the word. For example, reaching out to your customers via direct mail will carry a cost. So too will advertising in trade journals and other publications targeted to your niche.
Make a note of the amount you spend, and how you allocated your pre-show budget. This data will come in handy later.

Number Of People Expected To Attend
Some tradeshows are larger than others, of course. The exhibition halls are bigger; there are more booths; and there is a greater number of attendees. Find out how many people are expected to attend the show you’re considering renting a booth in. You can usually call or email the event organizer to get the information. The details may also be displayed on the organizer’s website or in brochures sent to potential advertisers.

Keep in mind that bigger is not necessarily better. A greater number of attendees does not mean your booth will be more successful. Much depends on whether those in attendance are in your target market.

Amount Spent Preparing For The Tradeshow
As noted earlier, you’ll likely spend a substantial amount of money preparing for the show. This is in addition to the amount you spend on promoting your booth before the event. For example, you’ll need to budget for travel expenses for you and the employees you plan to take to the event. This includes airfare, hotel reservations, and food. Your exhibit, its design, and its construction and breakdown (if you outsource these tasks) will also carry a cost. So too will the space you rent for the show.

Note the amount of money you spend on each item. Doing so will help you to stick closely to your budget. It will also help you to identify areas in which to adjust your future expenditures based on your results from the tradeshow.

Number Of Leads Generated At The Event
Track the number of leads you and your staff collect during the show. You’ll need to devise a system to categorize the leads according to their quality. For example, decision-makers who express an immediate need for your products and have the necessary budget might be considered “hot” leads. Those who say they might need your products down the road could be considered “warm” leads.

This metric is especially important since qualified leads will drive much of your revenue from tradeshows. Other variables remaining the same, the more leads you have, the better your ROI.

Number Of Leads Converted After The Show
Leads are only valuable if they convert. You and your staff will need to follow-up with your leads shortly after the trade show. This is a critical effort toward moving prospects closer to becoming customers.
Some leads will need more follow-up than others. As a general rule, the “hotter” a prospect, the less coaxing he or she will need to order your products.

The point of tracking the metrics above is to identify whether a trade show is worth the time and expense involved with renting a booth. You’ll find that some events consistently deliver a higher ROI than others. You may also uncover areas in your own company – for example, your staff’s ability to collect leads – that need attention. Without tracking these numbers, you are essentially leaving your success to chance.

You can learn more on how to improve your business marketing with Trade Show Displays.

Eric Gehler is a blogger whose interests range from SEO, Marketing, E-commerce among others. For more information visit his site.
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