How Should Executives Measure Trade Show Results?

It’s not uncommon for a CFO to review the balance sheet and see trade show expenses as #1 or #2 category on the marketing budget. This usually raises the “red flags” and leads to marketing teams scrambling for answers to the question that follows, “What are we getting out of our trade shows??”.

Marketers who are unable to justify their trade show investments with measurement metrics usually end up with reduced budgets the following year. Of course, this would lead to lost opportunities, however, you’ll never know how many or how much since your budget was cut.

After every show, good marketing teams should prepare and share reports with all stakeholders, including those who allocate budgets. You’ll then be ensured with data and proof that backs up your trade show investment.

So, what should Marketing Executives measure with their trade shows? It starts with preparing your goals and objectives for trade show measurement. Start by answering these questions:

  • Why are we exhibiting at this show? (hint: it’s not always focused on leads)
  • Who is our target audience?
  • Why do we want to reach them?
  • What do we want to accomplish when we reach them at the show?
  • How will we capture the right information when we reach them?
  • What steps do we want them to commit to next?
  • What’s our definition of success?

Then, consider measuring these categories:

  • Number of qualified leads captured (hint: define qualified first)
  • Number of meetings or opportunities generated
  • Brand impressions
  • Cost savings (by meeting current clients or holding training meetings while everyone is in the same place at the show)
  • Recruiting opportunities
  • Press impressions
  • Partner/vendor cost reductions or recruiting

The list could go on and it depends on what’s important to your organization and how you will measure results. Like anything else, it’s more important to just get started with small steps.

To talk more about trade show measurement with like-minded professionals, join the Trade Show Tips & Best Practices Forum on LinkedIn by going to

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