Surefire Ways To Get ROI From Exhibitions

Let’s be honest, It is not easy planning an exhibition and how would you possibly know the expected ROI? Having worked in the industry for over 15 years, A lot of Marketers have been struggling with this.

All Marketers know they have to participate in at least a handful of exhibitions each year. At the very least you need to make an appearance and be front of mind.

Exhibition sponsorship packages are expensive at important events you have to attend. The costs are brutal, leaving you with very little budget to work with for other marketing activities that quarter.

Do you find that each time an event is approaching you ask yourself the same questions:
  • How do you justify the cost?
  • Is it really worth it?
  • Is it considered an investment?
  • Most importantly, how many times have you questioned yourself why you need to participate at all?


A better question is, how do you plan for and measure ROI for each event you choose to participate in?

No Marketer should ever sign the dotted line for a sponsorship package without reviewing a detailed plan of attack carefully. This plan shouldn’t just be post event Sales Representative activities! The Marketing Plan needs to include the planning of the upcoming exhibition event.

Here are 9 valuable methods to deliver ROI and convert event doubts to confident strategic decisions.

1. Define Your Success Metrics

Step 1, define clear and measurable objectives for your exhibition. Qualify your target audience and identify and quantify for each event you participate in:

  • How many leads you need to achieve
  • How many of those will become marketing qualified
  • Sales accepted leads
  • Sales qualified and so on, up until how many sales do you need to make to break even and then to achieve a return


Best practice is:

  • MQL – SAL = 21% conversion
  • SAL – SQL = 59% conversion
  • SQL – Sale won = 22% conversion.

2. Pre-Event Marketing

You should never go into an exhibition with the hopes that you will go into a scanning frenzy and that’s all you need to do to get your leads. The pre-event marketing component is just as important as being on the booth. Let the world know that you will be at the event, ensure your target market knows that your company will be there and they should visit you. It is essential to build hype and exhibition awareness in advance of the event. This can be done through posting on social media channels, sending an EDM to your database and advertising on the exhibition’s website or through newsletters. Another great idea is to get your Sales Representatives to add the event participation to their email signatures.

3. Location, Location, Location

Stand location is the key to your success, you will miss out on many great opportunities simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Make sure you work with your show organiser and select an optimal space on the floor plan. Stay away from back corners or being right in front of speaking session rooms, as delegates get blindsided when they walk out of a dark session room. Being near coffee carts or catering areas are wise selections.

4. Stand Out From The Crowd

What are you going to do to make your booth stand out and look different? Not only do you want to look bigger and better than your competition, you need to catch the eye of your target audience. There are many things you can do to be in the spotlight, such as having a custom exhibition stand rather than a shell scheme like everyone else, use bright colours, have games or activities on your booth or interactive technology or even virtual reality goggles. These are all ways of getting a crowd to your booth. Giving out free things, especially food are big draw cards, such as Doughnut time or Messina ice cream or even fun swag items.

5. Give Em’ What They Want

Prizes are another great way to draw visitors to your booth. Holding a competition at your booth won’t only increase foot traffic, but also help you with your lead generation efforts. For this to be successful, you will need a prize that your target audience is crazy about or is the latest fad, for example, Google Home and a method to collect the competition entries. A business card bowl is an easy way to achieve this or a custom HTML entry form ready to be completed on a laptop/Ipad. Be clear when the prize will be drawn, usually on the last day of the event is a good time. Most importantly don’t just let the delegates walk away after they have dropped their business card, engage them in a conversation and see if they have heard of your company before. You never know, you may find that golden nugget after all.

6. Rules Of Engagement

First things first: Day1: morning 1, before your event starts, have a pre-show briefing session with your Sales Representatives team who will be working on your booth. This is your moment to ensure your team understands why you are all there (at the exhibition) and what you expect out of them. Introduce them to the badge scanner and train the team on how to scan leads after they qualify them. Scanning anyone and everyone will only give you more work later, qualify them first. Many badge scanners can be preset with qualifying questions in advance and allows the team to make notes on each scan. Taking the time to add this detail when scanning the show participants, will allow post-event follow up to be targeted concentrating on those leads that have the best chances of success.

7. Man Your Stand

The Sales Representative team that you choose to be on your booth can be a make or break decision. You need to have the right people, not only do they need to have complete product knowledge, they need to be approachable and social. Delegates should want to come up and speak to your team because of their fun charisma. If you sell technical products or are in a niche space, it may be a good idea to have a technical person on your booth or a subject matter expert, as you will always get that one delegate who will ask the tough questions and if you can’t answer them, your competitors will.

8. Follow Up

A follow-up strategy should be created before the event even takes place. Once you receive all your leads from the exhibition, you should hold a debrief session with the Sales Representative team. It’s important to start the follow-up process as soon as possible while the leads are still fresh. A ‘thank you’ email is a nice touch before the sales phone calls begin. Be sure to have a few call to actions in both the post-event email and when the Sales Representatives make their phone call to have a ‘next steps’ action plan. Some popular call to actions are: Free trials, first-time discounts, special offers, free demonstrations or consultations. The opportunities are endless!

9. Track, Record & Measure

This is the most important element of all, in order to measure the success of your event. The best way to do this is to utilise your automation and CRM software to its fullest potential. Send ‘thank you’ emails through your automation software to all the qualified leads that were scanned at the exhibition. This should automatically sync to a dedicated CRM campaign that you created for this exhibition, with the qualified leads being assigned in CRM and routed to the correct Sales Representative. Once the reps start their sales calls and opportunities arise, they should tag back all the opportunities to that campaign, so you will be able to see all the SALs, SQLs etc. This way management will know that your event was the first touch to sourcing that lead. If your CRM allows you to add in a campaign cost amount, this is a good idea to see initial ROI. Monitor your campaign on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and have regular catch-ups with your Sales Representatives and follow their progress.

All companies have different sales cycles, where some may take longer than others, but nonetheless, over a certain period of time, you will be able to evaluate whether or not your exhibition participation was successful and whether you should participate in a similar event next year.

If you need some help with coming up with creative ideas or want to learn the latest interactive technology to attract your target audience to your booth, Expocentric can help you.

Contact me today to have a chat and exchange ideas on 02 9937 1521 or

Expocentric can help you.


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