Weekly News & Insights: Proving the Value of Trade Shows


Photo: stock.Xchng / gerard79

Photo: stock.Xchng / gerard79

BizBash.com doesn’t hold back in its evaluation of the recent report issued by the Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA) and the CMO Council. With the headline “Trade Shows Need to Prove Value,” BizBash makes the case that marketers need to find a way to better measure their exposure at shows and take more responsibility to promote.

But is it that easy? There are any number of metrics that exhibitors can use to analyze their success at shows, but a recent article by ExpoWeb states that only 39 percent of companies have any kind of “formal” ROI tracking plan. Is it any wonder that exhibit marketing budgets are being cut when hardly anyone can justify the results those dollars produce?

If you need some help establishing guidelines for ROI measurement, check out these previous posts on Trade Show Insights:

Perhaps the best way to discover how to measure success is to study shows who are on the right track. TSNN just announced their list of the top 25 fastest-growing shows for net square footage and top 25 fastest-growing for attendance. These winners will be celebrated at the annual TSNN Awards in Reno, Nevada this November. Shows of all sizes are represented, in industries ranging from medical to sports & entertainment to trucking, so there’s no excuse for anyone who says, “Yeah, but that won’t work for us!”

In a different twist on the ROI of trade shows, an independent study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association shows that industries which spent more on business travel posted higher profits, while 57 percent believe that cutting business travel produced a negative result for their company. Some other interesting findings include that prospects are nearly twice as likely to become customers with an in-person meeting than without, and that 42 percent of customers would eventually be lost without in-person meetings. Click here to view a PDF of the report.

So … how do you prove value for your shows? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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