Weekly Insights: What Exhibitors are Spending … and Measuring

Graphic: © Digital Juice

Graphic: © Digital Juice

If you had any doubt that exhibitors are spending more on exhibiting these days, two recent reports confirm that they are. The Marketing Spend Decision report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) states that the median amount spent per exhibition in 2014 was $20,000, while the 2015 Economic Outlook Report from EXHIBITOR Magazine says that 32 percent plan to increase their trade show budget for 2015.

But what exactly are they getting for their money? Do they even measure their results? The CEIR Marketing Spend Decision report says that nearly all of them are (although based on my conversations with exhibitors, I believe that number to be considerably higher than the what’s true across the board), and apparently sales are the most common metric used. Six out of ten exhibitors surveyed said that they track the number of sales made following the show, with the majority using six months or less as the timeframe.

The CEIR study also showed that exhibitors are cautiously expanding their exhibit marketing, with the median number of exhibits increasing from four to five per year, and only slightly more than 10 percent planning to increase their booth size, mainly at the “must-see” show in their industry. Here’s a great quote from the study which should serve as a wake-up call to show organizers: “Exhibitors are discriminating … They remain committed to those exhibitions that deliver what they aim to achieve, and are more comfortable eliminating those that do not. There is a willingness and appetite to try new exhibitions, though those new events need to deliver.”

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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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