Participating in trade shows is almost always beneficial for companies, but is also not without its costs. The show booth space, setup and design; entertainers; and signs are all quite costly – not to mention the travel expenses, as well as the time invested by the marketers and salespeople.
This means that you need to weigh the benefits of exhibiting at a trade show against the costs of doing so, and see if the event ROI (Return on Investment) makes it worth your while.
How to determine if a Trade Show is Worth Attending?
1) Establish General Objectives:
Start by listing down the reason that you want to attend the trade show. Like we mentioned, trade show exhibitions are not cheap, which means that you should not be conducting one unless you have a clear end goal in mind. For instance, you might want to:
- Increase the overall awareness of your brand
- Increase the number of leads for a new service or product
- Strengthen your relationships with current and prospective clients
Your general objectives will help you establish quantifiable goals as well as your overall marketing and sales strategies.
2) Establish Quantifiable Goals:
After identifying the general purpose behind attending the trade show, it is time to take things a step further and establish quantifiable goals. Make sure that these goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Specific) so you do not end up setting yourself up for failure right from the get-go. Examples of quantifiable goals are:
- Obtain contact information for at least 15 prospective clients during the event
- Conduct at least forty one-to-one product demonstrations during the event
- Increase the number of attendees by at least 30% from last year’s trade show
- Increase website traffic by at least 35% within the first week of conducting the show
Once you have created quantifiable objectives, you can use metrics to determine the expected ROI for your show. There are two common ways to calculate the ROI:
- Subtract the trade show-related expenses from the trade show related revenue and divide this number by the trade show related costs.
ROI = (Trade-show related revenue – trade show related costs)/trade show-related costs
- Multiply the number of trade show-related leads by the per-lead value and subtract this number from the trade show related costs. The result should then be divided by the trade show-related costs.
ROI = ((Number of trade show-related leads x value of a single lead) –Trade show-related costs)/trade show-related costs
3) Create a Budget:
Even a seemingly-perfect trade show might not be suitable for you if you cannot afford to attend it. Like we mentioned, there are several apparent and hidden costs involved in conducting a trade show exhibition, and these costs can take you by surprise.
For this reason, it is important that you create a budget well ahead of time and see if the particular trade show is even financially feasible for you.
4) Research The Event History:
It is also important to dig deep into the trade show-history. For instance, has the show been around for a while, or has it only begun recently?
While the longevity of an event is one of the measures of its credibility, it is not the only one. You need to determine how well the event was promoted in the past, as well as look into the reputation of the organizers.
If you know of other companies that have attended this event, reach out to them and learn about their experience.
5) Do Not Ignore The Timing:
It is important to ensure that the timing of the trade show does not conflict with any other events that you are planning to conduct. Concurrent events can double the costs if you are forced to rent or purchase a second trade show exhibit in order to be able to attend both the shows simultaneously. Look into any other events that the city will be hosting around the time of the trade show. Even if those other events are not trade shows, the influx of people can significantly impact your flight, transportation, and lodging expenses.
Finally, see how the timing of the show lines up with your target market’s buying habits and patterns. For instance, make sure that the show is not being held too late or too early in the year for your buyer’s liking.
6) Check For Space Availability:
After choosing a trade show to attend, you must look into the booth spaces that are still up for grabs. The booth location is a critical determinant of the amount of traffic that your setup attracts. Also, since not every booth space is created equal, you should ensure that the available space will be able to accommodate your current booth layout. See if you will need to create a new exhibit from scratch or, in the event of a modular trade show exhibit, the way you will use the available space to configure the component design.
7) Understand Your Audience:
Even the largest trade show within an industry with a massive influx of attendees will not be of much use to you if those attendees are not part of your target audience. As a rule of thumb, 50% of attendees will come from within a 200-mile radius from where the show is being conducted.
Hence, it is important to look beyond the expected number of attendees and determine the percentage of attendees that actually satisfy your buyer demographics and profile. Figure out the percentage of your current clients and prospective buyers who will be attending the event.
How to Determine if a Trade Show was Worth Attending – Post-Trade Show Reflections:
The only way to determine if a trade show exhibition was successful is to compare your pre-show objectives to the actual results. Here are a few things to think about post-wrap up:
1) The Cost:
The very first thing to ask is if the exhibition was worth the money, effort, and time that you invested in it. Here are a few factors to consider:
- The overall cost of the exhibition
- The number of qualified prospective clients/customers who attended the show
- The extent to which your brand or offering stood out on the floor
- The importance of the particular trade show within your industry
2) Your Strengths During The Show:
Identifying your wins on the show floor will help you identify the areas where your marketing and promotional strategies succeeded. The below factors will help you determine the aspects where your team and brand excelled:
- The points at which the booth members felt confident while exhibiting
- The extent to which your staff was well-supplied and prepared on the floor
- The areas where you were able to outshine your competitors
3) Your Weaknesses During The Show:
While it is important to celebrate your victories, it is perhaps even more essential to analyze the aspects where you were not up-to-the-mark. Identifying and assessing your weaknesses during the show will help you cover all the bases for when the next exhibition comes around. Here are a few ways to evaluate your trade show weaknesses:
- Identifying any potential opportunities that you might have missed
- Identifying any questions from prospects that your team failed to adequately answer
- Determining the extent to which you were able to effectively communicate your brand message to the attendees. If you feel that you fell short, what measures can you take to improve your communication and messaging?
4) You v/s Competition:
Attending a trade show gives you the perfect opportunity to assess their brand, offerings, strengths, and weaknesses up close. Use this opportunity to take note of what your rivals are doing, and, once the show is over, study their performance in relation to your own. Here are a few things to consider:
- In what ways, if any, were your competitors better than you? For instance, perhaps their booth was better set up and designed, or maybe they were able to attract a higher number of attendees
- The robustness and depth of your competitors’ products or services
- The services or products that your competitors were promoting
- The product/service benefits and features that your competitors were emphasizing on in the marketing message
- The key differences between you and your competitors (and how you can leverage those differences)
5) The Effectiveness of Your Marketing Message:
The effectiveness of your marketing message is a direct measure of your exhibition’s success. An effective marketing message is aligned with the needs, requirements, and pain points of the target market, and outlines the ways your product or service is different from your competitors.
The below points will help you determine the extent of your marketing message’s effectiveness:
- Insight: How well did the marketing message understand the requirements and needs of your target market? How well were these issues and their solutions addressed?
- Benefits: Did the marketing message outline the unique and attractive benefits of your offering? Did you give your target market reason enough to choose you over a competitor?
- Trust: Did the marketing message assure your target market that your offering is capable of delivering the promised benefit(s)?
To sum up, a trade show is associated with a number of benefits and costs for your business, and comparing the two is the fundamental way to determine if a particular trade show is or was worth attending. Whether you are torn about attending a trade show, or have just wrapped up an exhibition, we hope that this guide will help you obtain the answers that you are looking for.
It’s in the name! Everything Tradeshows is your one-stop shop for all things trade shows, including booth purchases, booth rentals, and complete brand management services. Ready to get started? Have questions? Get in touch by calling us at (954) 791-8882 or by filling out the form below. We can’t wait to hear from you!