How To Measure A Successful Trade Show

Your definition of a successful trade show will largely depend on your goals. We break down popular goals and how you should measure them.

You and your team invest huge amounts of time and money to exhibit at a trade show to promote your business with the best marketing strategy. But how do you know if the event was a success and if your sponsorship was a good investment?

Your definition of a successful trade show will largely depend on your business goals. In this article, we break down popular goals and how you should measure them.

Let’s start by asking what is your definition of trade show success? Your success at a trade show largely depends on your goals… i.e. the reason you are attending the event. Are you there to write orders and generate sales? Develop a pipeline of new prospects? Or, is your primary goal to generate awareness for your brand? For each objective, you should set specific, measurable goals.

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Here are three common trade show goals and metrics you can use to measure your business success against. 

1. Generate Sales For Your Business

Key Metrics: Sales Generated, Number of Orders, Sales per Rep, Orders per Rep, Total Cost of Attendance, Return on Investment (ROI).

One of the biggest reasons to attend a trade show is to generate sales for your business. If you are primarily attending a trade show to sell, set objective goals for your team that focus on orders and sales. Start with your sales goal, and then work backwards by breaking it down into a number of sub-goals so you can better understand how you’re performing at the event. For example, if your goal is to write $150K in orders at a three-day event, you should be setting a goal of $50K per day. Break these numbers down even more granularly based on the number of reps you have in the booth, and the average order value (AOV) to help you understand approximately how many appointments each rep needs to hold every day to hit your numbers. Remember, when calculating average order value, specialty and big-box retail have very different economies of scale, and will drive very different AOVs. Track them separately so your large customers’ orders don’t skew the numbers.

Pro Tip: With NuORDER, you can generate real-time reports that show orders, revenue and AOV, overall and by rep.

If you have attended the same show in the past and are looking to grow sales over the previous year, start a growth target for this year’s show. Then, break down your orders by retailer and forecast how much you believe each account will grow and how many new customers you will need to sign in order to hit your target.

Since this goal is about making money, you should also examine your trade show ROI. ROI is a measure of how many sales you generated relative to the total costs you incur to exhibit at the event. Return on Investment is calculated by measuring sales as a percentage of all costs associated with the show, including booth costs, travel & hotels, and marketing expenses. This important factor will show exactly how much money you made by attending the show.

2. Develop Prospects

Key Metrics: Number of Validated Prospects, Potential Deal Sizes, Booth Visits, Specific Accounts Contacted Prior to Show, Number Of New Meetings Booked Prior to Show.

Trade shows are also excellent for facilitating connections with new buyers. That said, don’t expect buyers to magically visit your booth. It is your responsibility, prior to the show, to introduce yourself to potential new buyers and try to book meetings for your business.

Ask your reps for a list of retailers who are attending (some trade shows will also provide this list to you a few weeks prior to the start of the event). Reach out to these retailers in advance to schedule meetings. Make sure to include a curated linesheet of your products they’re most likely to be interested in, and give them a compelling reason to meet with you at the trade show (touch/feel the merchandise, get a product demo, or receive special pricing). Set goals for your team on the number of buyers to contact prior to the show and appointments to book for the event.

Pro Tip: With NuORDER you can easily send a custom list of products or a linesheet to each prospect, with tracking, so you can tell who opens, views, and clicks through from your email.

For each new validated prospect you meet at the show your reps should forecast the potential account size and timing. Use this as a forecast for how you are going to achieve your top-line growth goal. Remember, not all prospects convert into customers, so factor in a reasonable conversion rate into your forecasting:

The key to prospect development lies in timely follow up, sales reps must maintain contact and properly nurture leads. Understand what the customer is seeking and present relevant product and brand information (not everything). Ask yourself… why should this potential customer care? Explain reasons why the product you are suggesting will be applicable to their customer and why in turn it will sell in their store.

Pro Tip: Use NuORDER’s mobile app to create meeting notes in real-time and instantly convert your notes and prospects’ wish lists into proposals that you can email them immediately following the meeting. This will help your reps save time and convert more prospects into customers.


3. Create Brand Awareness For Your Business

Key Metrics: Booth Visits, Number of Media Contacts Created, Media Performance Post Show, Website & Social Performance.

Developing brand awareness at trade shows is all about increasing the visibility of your business across prospective buyers. When attending a show for this purpose it is essential that you first take the time to select the right trade show. Consider the audience, format, and location of the show, and compare it to the customers you would like to reach.

If brand awareness, and not sales, is your primary objective, make sure your booth design supports this objective. Allocate more space to telling your brand story and showcasing products. Make your space open and conducive to discovery by buyers. Create show-specific offers or actions so you can measure how many new buyers, media or influences found you at the show. For example, you could give away prizes to people who post a picture of your brand on Instagram or start following your brand on social media channels. You may want to invest less in your booth, and shift more dollars to advertising opportunities at the show.

In order to gauge performance, set goals for booth visits and the types of visitors. Seek out not just retailers you wish to work with but expand to media & influencers and ensure they are stopping by. Keep track of brand-level metrics including the growth in your email newsletter subscriptions, social media followers, and website traffic following the trade show.

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