Get FREE Trade Show Marketing Tips in Your Inbox! Click Here

5 Quick Measurements To Improve Your Trade Show Results

5 things you can measure now to improve your trade show resultsYour boss, and especially your boss’s boss, want you to measure your trade show ROI.  But with your longer B2B sales cycle, you won’t know the sales generated from each show for months, maybe years.  And that’s assuming you can get access to the sales data in the first place.

So here are 5 things you can measure during and right after your show.  Things that matter.  Things that will help you not only justify your program, but drastically improve it.  So if and when you finally do get actual sales numbers, they’ll be worth measuring.

1. Qualified Leads Per Show

Chances are you are already counting the number of leads you get at each show.  For example, at the XYZ show you got 100 leads, at the ZYX show you got 200 leads, and so on.  Raw lead counts are a starting point, but you can go one step beyond.  Train your trade show booth staff to consistently rate each lead for quality.

While there are varying methods to qualified leads, here’s one you can use, or adapt to your own needs:

  • “A” Quality Leads:  Have a budget, authority, need, and a short time frame to purchase.
  • “B” Quality Leads: Have authority and a future need, but no approved budget.  Or, have a need, but no authority or budget.
  • “C” Quality Leads: Have authority, but no need or budget.

You can choose to compare only “A” quality lead counts from show to show, or “A” and “B” quality lead counts from show to show.  This one step alone will enable you to better judge the value of each show on your schedule.  And you’ll have a better metric to judge a show right immediately after it’s over.  You can even go the next step and compare the number of qualified leads per dollar spent per show.

With this metric in hand, you can decide which shows to expand in and which to cut back on.  And of course, this only matters if your main goal is lead generation.

2. Number of Leads Per Staffer

You may think you know who your best booth staffers are just by looking at them.  They’re your friendliest people, who can chat with anybody, right?  But during the show you’ll be too busy running around your trade show display to notice they’re actually just chatting up their fellow booth staffers, or ingratiating themselves to the top company brass.  Or worse, they are not able to convert visitors into leads, because they simply don’t know enough about your clients’ needs or your products.  So what do you do?

To determine which staffers are your real stars, count how many leads they took each day.  That means you have to include a spot on your lead cards for staffers to put their name or initials.  (And be careful about two staffers with the same initials!)  If you don’t use a lead card, you still need to find a method to identify who took each lead.  Want to measure even closer?  Calculate how many leads each staffer takes per hour they staffed.

I’ve seen staffers who looked like wallflowers, yet took 400% more leads than other, more sociable staffers.  If you count every staffer’s total leads, you will then know which highly productive staffers to bring back for future shows.  And make a huge difference in your results.

It’s good to check written leads very early in the show to ensure each staffer is at least writing their name or initials on them.  Otherwise, after the show you have to become a handwriting expert!

3. Completeness of Leads

You want more than just quantity, you want quality.  So check your leads during the show to see if each booth staffer is writing complete leads.  Find a booth staffer who is just writing their name on the lead card?  Take them aside and show them what’s missing: Lead quality level, comments about what the visitor’s main problems are and how your products solve them, and what the staffer promised the booth visitor they’d do next.

Help your staffer see that if they invest an extra couple of minutes recording what the client said and what they promised the attendee, your field sales person will know which leads are truly worth following up right away, and which to nurture over time.

You can measure the completeness of your leads starting an hour or two into the show.  And it will boost your results so they are worth measuring.

4. Qualified Leads Per Booth Staffer Per Hour Worked

If you have done #1, #2 and #3, now you can also readily calculate this.  It’s the number of “A” or “A” and “B” leads a staffer takes on average per hour they staff your booth. This is like the slugging percentage in baseball that combines batting average and number of extra base hits into one statistic.  When you find staffers that take an above-average number of qualified leads per hour, show after show, make sure they’re on your varsity traveling booth staff team!

5. Ratio of Leads Generated By A Promotion Compared To That Promotion’s Percent of Your Show Budget

Trade show attendees only visit about 5% of the exhibits at a show.  Promotions are your secret weapon in the battle against limited time and other exhibitors.  You need promotions that incent attendees to leave the aisle, enter your booth, and engage with you.  But there are nearly infinite choices, some good and some bad.

At one show we gave away a free trip to Hawaii – quite an investment – but while the mailer and trip cost 10% of our show budget, 60% of our leads either brought the pre-show mailer about the trip into the booth, or were stopped by the offer in the aisle.  Spend 10% more to get 60% more leads?  Any day.  Calculate this ratio with all your promotions, and you’ll figure out which promos to repeat, and which to leave in your desk drawer.  All you need to do is identify which leads were initiated by the promotion.

Your efforts to measure your trade show results don’t have to be held hostage to your long sales cycle or an inaccessible sales database.   These 5 measurements will help you make immediate improvements in your trade show performance.

This article originally appeared on within the Thought Leader Blogs section.

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

5 responses to “5 Quick Measurements To Improve Your Trade Show Results

  1. I think these are great tips for one specific objective.

    Not every display at every tradeshow is there to “close business”. I think wise event marketers are a bit more nuanced in their approach by defining an objective first, then define the measurement. For example, if you’re launching a new product or service your main goal should be brand awareness and not necessarily “leads”. In this case you plan to “touch” as many of the attendees with your message as possible through speaking on the general session, providing giveaways, and other sponsorship opportunities.

    In the original discussion with the “boss” I think it is important to define success by specific objective, rather than simple ROI.

    1. Hello Randy,

      Thanks for your insightful comment, Randy. You’re right that these metrics are focused on ROI. As you say, not every display is there to close business, but most exhibitors go to generate leads that will result in business, business that can be tracked and measured.

      For exhibitors who are happy to simply judge based on awareness, they can use other metrics, like counting the number of people who attend a presentation or participate in a demonstration, or how much coverage they received after the show from their industry press, or the change in awareness for show attendees based on pre-show and post-show surveys. In most of these cases, if ROI is not your objective, then it actually becomes easier to quickly measure your results, as you don’t have to wait until sales have come in.

  2. Great metric points. With budgets tight businesses need to understand the ROI on their investment in tradeshows. Can businesses incorporate social networking analytics? For example, how people they sold to followed them on Twitter or vice versa.

Leave a Reply to James Buchanan Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Stay Up To Date