One of my passions – numbers. No, I am not an accountant, but I am a researcher who feasts on statistics. My inquisitive mind is constantly evaluating, what are these numbers telling us? The next question I ask is – so what? How can the figures be applied to change, enhance or discontinue a marketing program? Over the span of my consulting life, which seems like a gazillion years, I have been tasked with determining the ROI on many marketing programs, such as:

  • trade shows
  • private events
  • seminars
  • executive briefings centers
  • permanent exhibit facilities: the former INFOMART

Let’s concentrate on trade show ROI for today. I know there is a growing trend in assessing the return on various marketing programs and that is good news. Can exhibit marketing demonstrate its effectiveness? Well, maybe…

Trade shows have merit and can prove it, if the marketing person knows how. Unfortunately, that knowledge base, as well as time, is limited in many companies. Most marketing folks are great with the planning and logistics, however fall short in assessing ROI. They know conceptually how it should look, but drilling down and doing it seems too complex and out of their reach. When this scenario happens, my clients turn to me for help in providing unbiased assistance with determining the results from their trade shows.

Let the Numbers Fight For You

Provided is a general number you can use to calculate trade show ROI using the 2009 Oxford Economic Institute research on overall business travel. In the research they had various categories for travel and one trip type was for trade shows. In the graph below, please look at the percent of the travel budget associated with trade shows and then on the ROI figure.


Using the mid-point range of this statistic, you can say for every dollar spent on a trade show, a company can calculate a $5.00 return. As an example, if a company spent $10,000 for a trade show, their return would be $50,000.

However, your numbers could be higher than this. An example, Skip Cox from Exhibit Surveys provided me with a number, using the ROI Tool Kit. The exhibitor had a 10 x 10 booth at a technology show several years ago, and could show a 12:1 return. That is an impressive number.

The statistic from the Oxford Economic Institute can be your first step in evaluating your exhibition efforts. Happy calculating!