4 Ways to Measure Trade Show Success

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A common mistake I see new exhibitors (and even some veterans) make revolves around how they measure the success of their trade shows.

One would assume that calculating your return on investment would require a simple formula comparing how much was spent to exhibit versus the revenue earned while at the show. However, I’d argue that this method is short sighted and doesn’t take into consideration several less tangible, non-immediate benefits that exhibiting at a trade show can bring.

The success of your trade show should NOT be measured solely by the number of orders you write or the volume of sales you have at a show.

Why?  Because we want to build profitable, sustainable businesses.  And this type of growth doesn’t happen in just a few days at a single show.  It happens over years of developing your brand, refining your products and building relationships with customers.

Trade shows are one piece in a larger, more complicated sales and marketing strategy.  It is important to look at the big picture and consider long term growth when determining whether or not a show (or any marketing venture) is successful.

We know sales are important to figuring out ROI.  Below are four additional benefits that exhibiting at trade shows can offer your company.  

1. Customer Feedback.

One of the biggest benefits of exhibiting at trade shows is the opportunity to meet face to face with customers.  Ask questions about what products they need in their shop, get immediate feedback on your products and have meaningful conversations that will help you build real relationships with your buyers.

Use your time at the show to listen.  The feedback you hear will allow you to refine your line, identify opportunities in the market and increase future sales.  

2. Brand Recognition.

If people don’t know about you, they won’t buy from you. Trade shows are a great way to enhance brand recognition and position yourself as a key player in your industry.

Ensure that your booth, products and marketing materials are cohesive and mirror your company branding. Build press kits tailored for the media so you can be featured in blog posts or traditional media coverage of the show. Consistently use social media before, during and after your trade show to promote your brand and leverage show hashtags to attract new customers.

Exhibiting provides opportunities to increase visibility and strengthens brand awareness for your company before, during and after the show.

3. Collaborations

People prefer to work with people that they know, like and trust. And, these important relationships are much easier to form and nurture when you’re in-person together.

Through years of exhibiting at trade shows I’ve met and hired sales reps, collaborated with licensing partners and found new vendors to help me create my products or streamline my business operations. These connections led to increased sales, diversified income streams and lower production costs — all things that helped scale my business, yet weren’t captured in our sales reports from the trade show.

4. Contacts

Trade shows are one of the best ways to get in front of a large audience and meet with current and prospective clients under one roof.  Depending on the show, you could speak with hundreds of people in a single day! Collect those business cards, expand your network and be sure to follow-up with more information after the show!

A surprising number of exhibitors never follow up with buyers after a show, which is a missed opportunity.  They get busy filling orders and oftentimes just don’t get to it; which means they are leaving money on the table.  Always follow-up, even if you send a simple email. It will lead to more sales and help you strengthen your relationships with current accounts and prospective buyers.

Remember that exhibiting at a trade show is just one piece of your marketing plan. Maximize your time at your show to seek client feedback, have meaningful conversations, enhance your brand recognition and build new connections.  

Keep the big picture in mind and remember that sales are just one way to measure the success of a show. Long term growth is the key to building a profitable, sustainable wholesale company.

This article was written by Katie Hunt and originally published on the NY Now blog. We’re republishing here with permission.


Connect with Katie Hunt

Katie Hunt is a business strategist, podcaster, mentor and mama to four. She helps product based businesses build profitable, sustainable companies through her conferences, courses and coaching programs.

Website: prooftoproduct.com  |   Instagram: @prooftoproduct

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