How To Improve Your Trade Show ROI

Tradeshows are an opportunity to interact with and directly influence a large group of prospects. But exhibiting is costly, and with shrinking budgets, it’s sometimes hard to justify all the related expenses—unless you can show solid return on investment. Follow these tips to help grow your ROI:

Early planning is key! Take advantage of prime booth locations, available speaker slots, and sponsorship opportunities. Getting a jumpstart will also help you pre-market to attendees.

Booth Size and Location
Consider the best booth size for your goals. Plan to have multimedia displays, demos, or client consultations in your space? Great! A large booth makes sense. But if you can accomplish your goals in a smaller space, save your money. Large booths mean large graphics, more furniture, more staff, and so on.

Work with event organizers to determine what other companies will be positioned near your booth. Are there competitors you want to avoid? Or companies you’d like to be near (e.g., customers or partners)? Organizers can also provide information about expected traffic flow and heaviest attendance. And check the floor plan to check entrances and other potential high-traffic areas.


You have only a few seconds to grab the attention of attendees. Visually engaging graphics are key to quickly communicating your messages. Your booth should represent your brand at a glance. Any text should be clear and concise.

Video can create a dynamic atmosphere to your booth while conveying a lot of information in a brief amount of time. A one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words! And, up to 85% of people are more likely to buy a product if they watch an explainer video first.

Pre/Post-Show Marketing Plan
What will you communicate to your target audience before and after the show? You can obtain much information from event organizers to help with your planning, including the following:

  • target audience demographics to help you tailor your messaging
  • expected attendance numbers, for collateral and giveaway quantities
  • attendee list, for direct mail/email promotions

Speaking Engagements

Speaking engagements are great exposure and they present an opportunity to spread awareness of your thought leadership. Is there a call for presentations or papers? Can you present at a workshop or other session, or speak on a panel? Maximize your investment!

Promotional Opportunities
You can also increase your brand’s visibility by sponsoring a meal or reception, advertising in event materials, or hosting a hospitality suite (a great networking opportunity—but keep in mind the competition for attendees’ time!).

Media Exposure
Is a media presence expected? Consider timing announcements around the show. Highlighting a new partnership or a product release can give you something to showcase. Create a press release or press kit and invite industry journalists to visit your booth.

Trained Booth Staff:
Have you ever walked the floor of a trade show and seen booth staff sitting there scrolling through their smartphones or talking amongst themselves—or even worse, come across an empty booth? After your graphics, your booth staff are the face of your company. Make sure you choose the right people to represent your brand, and train them well.

Staff should be prepared to talk with the target audience. They should have in-depth knowledge of the product and the company. And they should be prepared to capture leads.

When a show concludes, do a post-mortem that includes feedback from booth staff.

Lead Generation
It’s all well and good to scan a hundred badges for the people who come into your booth for a chocolate bar, but what matters is what happens to that information after the show. Define the specific information you want to capture, and outline a solid process for acting on those leads.

If using a CRM, it helps to tag leads with a clear naming convention that references the particular event. Then your sales team can take the info and run with it, and you can track activity.

Contributed by Donna Guran