When approached correctly, a trade show can be an incredible marketing and sales opportunity for your business. In fact, data from the Center for Exhibit Industry Research shows that leads generated at trade shows cost as much as 62% less to close than leads from other channels.
However, just like any other marketing and growth channel, trade shows need to be approached with the right degree of financial savvy. Budget appropriately and you can generate an incredible ROI from your next trade show; budget poorly and you may earn no profit at all.
Below, we’ve listed four financial questions that you should ask yourself before taking part in a trade show for the first time. Our questions cover every step in the financial planning process, from setting a budget to calculating whether or not the event is worth your time.
“How much will this cost?”
Before you start planning your exhibit and rehearsing for the event, it’s important to calculate the total costs of exhibiting at a trade show.
Trade shows can seem very inexpensive at first. However, from booth rental to exhibition fees, transport for your team and exhibit, giveaways and more, the costs of taking part in a show can quickly add up.
Before you commit to attending any trade show, calculate the total costs involved in becoming an exhibitor. Remember that the ultimate goal of any trade show is ROI — if you can’t justify the cost of the event, it might be worth waiting for a better opportunity.
“Is this show the best opportunity for us?”
After you’ve taken part in your first trade show, spotting new opportunities becomes easy. Your first time, however, can be challenging, since it’s often hard to work out which show is the best match for your business.
The easiest way to answer this question is to attend several trade shows as a visitor before you take part as an exhibitor. After attending as a guest, you’ll get a “feel” for each event and a complete understanding of the type of attendees it attracts.
“What are our objectives for this event?”
As a business, it’s essential that you set goals for every trade show you attend. Most companies opt for easily measurable, quantifiable goals, such as total leads generated, total value of deals closed or other easy-to-monitor financial metrics.
Before the event set clear primary financial goals for your sales team to aim for throughout the trade show. Simple, clear objectives such as “Generate 200 sales leads” or “Get 1,000 business cards” keep your team motivated while putting your business on track to reach its targets.
After the event is over, it can take several months for you to accurately assess the results from a trade show. Be patient and recalculate your figures every month — you may notice a gradual rise in revenue and improvement in ROI as prospects convert into paying customers.
“How can we maximize our return on investment?”
While large companies often view trade shows as an opportunity to generate a certain amount of attention, small businesses usually don’t have this luxury. Instead, it’s far more important to focus on the total return on investment you can achieve from a specific trade show.
When you’re planning your exhibit and budgeting for the event, keep ROI at the front of your mind. This way, your budgeting and custom exhibit booths design decisions are grounded in the need for a positive ROI, helping you put your budget to use more efficiently.
Remember, trade shows are all about results, especially as a first-time exhibitor. Focus on the return on the investment side of trade show marketing and you’ll massively increase your chances of a successful, repeatable first-show performance.