Things to Consider before Your Next Trade Show Event by Jae-ann Rock

Posted on May 12, 2015 in Archive

In today’s highly competitive and cost-reducing environment, performance counts more than ever. Making the most of your trade show dollars is  key.

There are many factors to consider before signing up to exhibit at that next conference, such as:

  • Does your team have the capacity to make follow-up sales calls in a timely fashion?
  • Does your customer service center have the staff to take care of all the new customers?
  • Do you have enough personnel to handle any newly created work?
  • Can you continue to deliver top-notch quality service to current customers, if many new sales result from the show?

To get the most out of any given conference where you will be exhibiting, you must set realistic, quantifiable show goals and a tactical plan to reach those goals. It is imperative that you have specific goals and objectives laid out for BEFORE every show.

Goals and Objectives

To properly assess the results of a trade show, develop a set of realistic measurements and quantifiable goals for EACH show you plan to attend. Measurable goals many include: Reduce the cost of sales; increase client loyalty; attract new qualified prospects; close more sales; increase market share and knowledge; improve the overall company image. Identify specific metrics to assess each goal.

Which of the following goals will be included in your next trade show marketing plan? 

Goal #1: Introduce a New Product  

Trade shows can be a very cost-effective platform to launch a new product or service.  Most trade show attendees are investigating what’s new in the industry. Make the most of this opportunity!

  • Send show registrants a post card announcing your new product or solution.
  • Include an invitation to come by your booth for more details.
  • Perform live product demos continuously throughout the show.
  • Leverage Twitter and other social media avenues to announce your new product launch in association with the conference.

Goal #2: Reinforce Client Loyalty 

Reinforcing client relations is an excellent trade show goal. Invite current clients to visit your booth. Seize this opportunity to meet with your clients in person.

  • This is a great opportunity for key people in your company to strengthen relations with clients they may not often see in person.
  • Ask your clients to provide candid feedback about your company and its services.
  • Request referrals, if appropriate.
  • Continue to demonstrate your industry knowledge and expertise in a way that provides immediate value to the client.
  • Share a white paper, article, or other information which will help them achieve their business goals.

Goal #3: Collect Market Research 

Trade shows can be a gold mine of information. When the appropriate show is worked properly, it can be a fertile ground for learning a competitor’s strategies, a supplier’s tactics, a customer’s marketing goals, and overall industry trends.

  • Gather information and take notes to discuss later at internal marketing and business strategy meetings.
  • How can you use this information to get ahead of the curve?
  • Should you develop new offerings to meet changing market demand, or modify existing services to create unique value in the market?

Goal #4: Get Media Exposure 

Trade shows can be a great way to gain media exposure for your company. They also provide an excellent opportunity to convey your message to numerous industry professionals at no additional charge.

Consider including the following PR tactics in your trade show marketing plan:

  • Provide thought-leadership presentations.
  • Become a conference sponsor.
  • Display your company logo in the show directory, along with a description of your products and services.
  • Prepare and deliver media kits to the press while at the show.
  • Tweet conference updates before, during and after the show. 

Goal #5: Check out the Competition

To either hold or increase market share in today’s aggressive and fast-changing marketplace, you must constantly identify and clarify your competitive advantage. Trade shows are an excellent forum to research and collect competitive information to inform your market approach.

Identify, visit, investigate, and gather information about your competitors. Develop a target list of key competitors to investigate during the show. Then, use the following questions to compile a competitive profile for each of your key competitors to analyze further after the show:

  • What market sectors are they in?
  • What services do they provide?
  • Are they a prospect for a strategic alliance or possible partnership?
  • Are they regional, national, or international?
  • What is their annual revenue and employee size?
  • What is their pricing structure?
  • What is their sales strategy?
  • Are they promoting a new or unique offering?
  • Do they appear to have a new market strategy?
  • How do they uniquely position themselves within the market?

Goal #6: Increase the Number of Qualified Leads

Let’s face it – the ultimate goal of most companies exhibiting at a trade show is to gather more leads. To achieve the best results and increase your booth traffic at the show, develop pre-show phone, email and social media campaigns.

  • Offer complimentary passes.
  • Send a postcard highlighting your services.
  • Send specific invitations to show attendees to visit your booth.
  • Use social media to promote your company’s show attendance.

Then, create a system to quickly qualify each lead as A, B, or C while at the conference. Note the results of each lead and have a follow up action plan in place to handle each “lead type” in a timely fashion after the show. Time is of the essence!

After each conference, calculate the number of qualified prospects from the show and track each, reporting on the following: 

  • # of sales appointments held within 3 months after event
  • # of new appointments booked for the future
  • # of proposals written within 6 months
  • Approximate dollar value of those proposals
  • # actual signed contracts within 1 year
  • Actual dollar value closed

By tracking these results and using the following table, you can begin to measure your return-on-investment for that show.

The following sample table provides an immediate indication as to the cost per lead for a show, as well as the resulting trade show ROI over time:



Number of leads generated

 Cost per lead

# closed with 3 months

# deals closed within 9 months

# deals closed within 1 year

Actual Dollars Closed

 ROI (Cost / Dollars Closed)










The bottom line is this — Companies that participate successfully in trade shows appear to have one thing in common: they set realistic and measurable goals for show participation.

When accomplished, these goals prove to be highly valuable, as they can help inform future marketing efforts to boost continued growth, increased market share, and heightened customer satisfaction.


Keep in mind that it can be expensive to promote your offerings at a trade show. For example, if your company spends $3,000 for a 10×10 booth + $2000 in expenses (low-end estimates), here is what you paid for each contact scanned –

Cost per-contact scanned at ATD Conference:

  • 100 scans – $50.00 per contact
  • 200 scans – $25.00 per contact
  • 500 scans – $10.00 per contact

But not all trade show leads are actually decision-makers. Many are tire-kickers, influencers or “in it to win” that iPod drawing.

However, there is a more cost-effective approach to reach CONFIRMED DECISION-MAKERS in your target market. 

By purchasing a Mentor Tech Group Market Intelligence list, here is a sample of the price per contact you could pay for confirmed decision makers (depending on the volume of leads purchased):

  • 1000 prospects- $3.69 per contact*
  • 6000 prospects – $2.06 per contact*
  • 10,000 prospects $1.51 per contact*
  • 30,000 prospects – $.0.69 per contact*

*Qualified as a decision-maker

So, when you need a high quality list of top decision-makers in your industry, contact Mentor Tech Group.  We specialize in decision-maker contact information and market intelligence for key contacts in Corporate Training, e-Learning, HR, and Talent Management.

Stop digging for leads! We have the decision-maker contact information you’ve been looking for!  But don’t take our word for it – See what MTG clients are saying.

Then, contact us today to receive a no-obligation quote… Call (651) 457-8600, Ext. 3.

And, if you’re attending ATD in Orlando next week, we hope to see you there!

Follow us on Twitter @MTGLists!

We’re here to help you locate the decision makers you seek, whenever you’re ready!

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