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To Exhibit or Not to Exhibit

woman with her hand under her in chin in deep thought with arrows and question marks drawn on a chalkboard behind her

To exhibit or not to exhibit. When it comes to exhibiting at tradeshows, businesses are faced with important decisions to make. Expensive costs, previous experiences, and the expected quality of leads all play a significant role in this decision-making process. These three factors help exhibitors make informed choices that optimize their tradeshows and validate their investments. 

The Cost Of Exhibiting

Exhibiting has always come with a significant price tag. Floor space, sponsorships, drayage, internet, labor, and additional costs like freight and fabrication can quickly add up. With rising costs and inflation, exhibitors constantly look for ways to manage expenses. However, without proper measurement and benchmarking, discussions about exhibit-related costs become too subjective and budgets can get irreverently slashed. 

To truly protect your tradeshow budgets and prove your value, we have to use verifiable facts to quantify success. We can do this through a myriad of ways namely ROI analysis, benchmarks, and scorecards. Using these tools allows exhibitors to make data-driven decisions, enabling them to assess the true value and return on investment of their tradeshow participation.

By understanding the costs involved and measuring results, companies can better manage their expenses while maximizing the benefits of trade show participation. (It’s important to note that the cost of exhibiting will vary depending on several factors, including the location, size, and complexity of the exhibit, as well as the number of shows attended.)

Remember, exhibiting is an investment – one that, when properly managed and measured, can yield significant returns for your business.

Past Show Performance

The exhibitor’s previous experience at a show plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. Factors such as attendee quality, engagement levels, lead generation, return on investment, and overall satisfaction come into play. While qualitative information and gut feelings have their place, combining them with quantitative data leads to better decision-making. 

Step 1: Assessing Attendee Quality

The first factor to consider is the quality of attendees at past shows. Did they fit your target demographic? Were they decision-makers or influencers within their organizations? Understanding who attended and their relevance to your business is key to evaluating the potential value of future shows.

Step 2: Measuring Engagement Levels

Next, assess the level of engagement at previous shows. This includes evaluating visitor interactions with your booth staff, the number of product demonstrations conducted, and the overall interest shown in your offerings. These indicators can provide insight into how well your exhibit resonates with attendees.

Step 3: Tracking Lead Generation

Tracking the number and quality of leads generated at past shows is another critical step. This involves not only counting the number of leads but also assessing their potential value based on follow-up interactions and conversions post-show.

Step 4: Calculating Return on Investment (ROI)

Calculating ROI involves comparing the costs of exhibiting (booth space, drayage, manpower, etc.) against the revenue generated from leads and sales. A positive ROI indicates that the show was financially worthwhile, while a negative ROI may suggest the need for a different approach or reconsideration of that particular show.

Step 5: Gathering Overall Satisfaction

Lastly, gather feedback from your team about their overall satisfaction with the event. This can include their perceptions of the show’s organization, the quality of interactions with attendees, and their views on whether it was a valuable use of their time and resources.

Exhibitors should strive to collect both qualitative feedback and quantitative metrics to gain a comprehensive understanding of a show’s potential. Integration of these insights enables businesses to make more informed choices, improving their chances of success at future events.

Quality of Leads

Leads are the lifeblood of any business. Exhibitors desire not just a high volume of leads, but also high-quality prospects that align with their target audience. While the expected quality of leads may seem subjective, it can be tracked and measured effectively. By meticulously recording and detailing leads during an event, followed by a thorough follow-up process, exhibitors can determine how many leads turn into opportunities, accelerate existing ones, or ultimately convert to sales. This data-driven approach allows for a more accurate assessment of lead quality and helps exhibitors gauge the true impact of their participation.

Assessing Your Ideal Customer’s Presence

For businesses considering exhibiting at a show for the first time, evaluating whether their ideal customers will be in attendance is crucial. This assessment should consider both the presence of the target audience and the potential number of attendees at the event. By leveraging calculations and industry insights, exhibitors can anticipate the number of potential leads they may generate. This proactive approach ensures that resources are allocated strategically, focusing on events where the highest concentration of ideal customers is likely to be found.

For a more in-depth explanation visit: How To Avoid the Wrong Shows


When deciding whether to exhibit or not, consider exhibit-related costs, previous experiences, and expected lead quality. By combining subjective assessments with objective data, businesses can make informed decisions for successful tradeshow participation.

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