Calculating ROI For Your Tradeshow Booth

Was exhibiting at that tradeshow worth your time and resources? How would you know?

Image by Vern Hart.

In today’s world where so much business is conducted on the phone or digitally, meeting customers, prospects and other stakeholder face-to-face is extremely important. At the same time, you want to effectively keep your costs down and use your time and resources wisely. In order to do that, you need to measure and improve your current strategies. Without data, your decisions about exhibiting or attending are based on nothing more than hunches.

It is fairly easy to determine the ROI for your Tradeshow booth.

Collect This Data

1. Ask your sales and accounting department for the average gross margin on a sale.
Gross margin = Revenue minus costs of goods sold.

2. Calculate the total cost to attend the event.

  • Booth cost
  • Shipping and freight
  • Drayage
  • Electricity cost
  • Carpeting
  • Lead retrieval
  • Pre-show marketing
  • Booth marketing materials
  • Additional booth staff registration (those not included with booth cost)
  • Booth staff lodging
  • Booth staff travel
  • Booth staff expenses
  • Post-show marketing
  • Booth staff labor

3. Through in-booth qualification or by conducting a post-show survey segregate inquiries from qualified leads. Post show survey questions might include:

  • If they intend to purchase from you
  • When they intend to purchase from you
  • How much they intend to spend
  • Note: remember that you are measuring intentions, not actual purchases

4. Multiply the number of qualified leads by your company’s average conversion percentage or win rate.

5. Multiply the result from step 4 by your company’s average sale.

6. Multipy the result from step 5 by your company’s average gross margin. 

Calculate ROI

Now use the data you collected in steps 1-6 to calculate your ROI.

If your close rate from qualified opportunities is 25% and you had 100 people visit your booth then 25 people plan to purchase something from your organization.  If the average amount of spend from the respondents is $10,000 on your products and services within the next six months, you can project approximately $250,000 in sales from the tradeshow.

To calculate the actual ROI:

  1. Multiply the total amount of sales from the show by the average gross margin on a sale.
    In the illustration used above, multiply $250,000 by the gross margin on a sale. So if your gross margin is 70%, you can assume the actual incremental revenue is $175,000.
  2. Subtract the total cost to attend the event from the actual revenue.

Now you have your net ROI for the event. For a more sophisticated ROI process, check out Exhibit Survey’s free ROI Toolkit.

Beyond The ROI Of Sales

Of course the above scenario is for the ROI of your booth when selling a product or service at an event. Sometimes, you may want to look beyond the quantitative data. Your tradeshow goal may be:

  • Exposure or awareness
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Increase brand engagement and drive affinity between customers and the brand
  • Reach new markets and customers
  • Nurture your relationship with existing customers 

In the above cases, you’ll want to evaluate the quality of your communications and ask different questions to evaluate your effectiveness.

Whether you decide to participate or not participate in future tradeshows will be dependent upon the data you collect to support your decisions. Without this data, you are merely trying to read a crystal ball without a clearly defined set of objectives and criteria for measurement.

Why do so many tradeshow exhibitors base their ROI on the number of people who entered their booth? What attracts people to a tradeshow booth?

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by nancyrubin, sgnewsfeed and Todd Gauman, Zerista Pro. Zerista Pro said: Fwd: Calculating ROI For Your Tradeshow Booth: Was exhibiting at that tradeshow worth your t… #eventprofs […]

  2. Cameron Toth says:

    Great work Jeff. We will get the meeting experience down to dollars and FUN one step at a time! Nothing spells engagement like PROFIT.

    I think we need to consider the pre-event work as well. Booths and event attendees will be more successful and have more fun if they set their goals early and often with attendees, other vendors, and programs. Anticipating opportunities is the key to keeping opportunity continually knocking.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks for the feedback and for reading Cameron. Yep, we’ll get it down to ROI and fun. I also like your addition of pre-event work. I am glad you reminded readers of that.

  3. Hello Jeff,

    I think your method is a great way to get an initial feel for the estimated ROI for a show, so you can quickly determine relative value from show to show. This is especially important with longer B2B sales cycles, where an exhibitor will have to do next year’s trade show budget before they get actual sales data to calculate their ROI.

    However, I think basing ROI using an average close rate for qualified leads can have its drawbacks. I’ve been at shows where attendees expressed enough interest to be considered qualified, yet the close rate was much lower than expected, while other shows maintained a good close rate.

    Why is that? I think that some shows do a better job at bringing in truly qualified buyers than others, or in some vertical market shows exhibitors can have a better fit with the attendees. For example, I dropped one vertical market show when we tracked the previous year’s show and found we had zero sales from 40 leads.

    On the plus side, I’ve seen a show where the average sale was more than double our overall average sale. That can push that show’s actual ROI significantly higher.

    So I think to get a true measure, you really do have to follow up with your trade show leads to find out which ones bought, and how much they bought. Then you can find out your true ROI.

  4. […] I came across a great blog by industry veteran Jeff Hurt that anyone attending an event would do well to peruse. While he writes specifically about ROI for a tradeshow booth, this could really apply to anyone attending a conference with the intention of growing their sales. I won’t spoil Jeff’s entire message, but he lays out a very straight forward process for getting an accurate look at the (monetary) value you get out of attending an event. A key part of the strategy is to evaluate the intentions of any customers you encounter. With a formal sales process like at an exhibition booth, it’s obviously rather simple and expected to reach out to prospective customers. A less formal setup makes this a bit more tricky, but establishing a good relationship with a potential customer is a strong move no matter what. Be sure to hit the source link below and check out Jeff’s very insightful blog. Source: [Midcourse Corrections] […]

  5. Event ROI says:

    This is great. My only question is whether it’s always this cut and dry to gather the data to use with the calculations.

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