There are over 30 million businesses in the United States and many of those businesses spend millions of dollars every year on trade shows. Unfortunately, most have a very difficult time calculating their return on investment (ROI) or their return on objective (ROO) for the monies they spend on trade shows. Over the years, most marketing executives have complained about one or more of the following problems:

  • Our marketing efforts and trade show strategies are not yielding the desired results
  • Our market messaging is unclear and often times inconsistent so it doesn’t accurately reflect our desired image
  • We’re not seeing enough of the right people in our booth
  • Booth traffic in general is down from past years shows
  • We spend more time talking with other exhibitors rather than talking with prospects or clients

Research tells us that a business can expect to attract 1 to 2% of their targeted audience into their tradeshow booth.  That percentage can jump to 20% or more by better targeting which leads to more qualified prospects. In order to achieve better “booth traffic” one needs to create and then execute a comprehensive marketing and trade show strategy.

Even with the low percentages I just mentioned, trade shows continue to be a big part of today’s business climate. According to some B2B research I read spending on trade shows continues to be strong especially in combination with social media, advertising and promotion spend. In a world filled with websites, emails, and voice mails trade shows offer one of the true opportunities to build relationships with face-to-face contact. Something every business can use a little more of!

If you attend trade shows as part of your lead generation efforts here’s a 6-step checklist to maximize the money you spend on trade shows:

  1. Ask for a list of past attendees from previous years shows
  2. Ask for a pre-registration list and mail (or email) an invitation to come to your booth (or an event)
  3. Prior to the trade show, have your salespeople set appointments to meet with prospects and/or customers at the trade show (i.e., breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, golf, etc.)
  4. Offer to deliver a keynote address, facilitate a workshop, panel discussion or breakout session during the trade show (in exchange for free registration, a bigger booth or a better location on the floor)
  5. Create custom notepads for people working the booth that contains a place to staple a business card as well as a place to write responses to their interview questions
  6. Always do a post-show mailer to all attendees (not just those that came by your booth)

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