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Wood Street Journal

Informed Marketing Insights & Inspiration

Our goal for the Wood Street Journal is simple: to educate and empower the reader by providing you with the tools to market your business, organization, or cause online. We do this by offering posts by experts on web design, tech trends, SEO, social, content marketing, and more. If there are any related topics you’d like us to cover, please let us know!

Tips For Calculating Trade Show ROI

For businesses, participating in a trade show is certainly not cheap. There are attendance costs, set-up costs, giveaways/handouts, and even travel. It’s important for businesses to understand that they’ll need to calculate their return on investment for participating, to determine if the trade show is truly worth it.

There are a number of things to keep in mind before you book your space and airline travel for the following year.

Make sure you’re maximizing your trade show experience and not leaving money on the table. You’ll also want to make sure your business is seeing an ideal ROI.

Let’s face it, trade show costs can add up, and if you’re not seeing a return on your marketing investment, it’s not worth it.

Here are five tips for calculating trade show ROI:

Follow up with leads through social and email channels

Make sure you’re getting the most out of your trade show dollars by following up on in-person leads via your email and social channels.

If you meet a prospect in person at a trade show, and connect with them via email or Facebook for a sale, you’re maximizing your trade show ROI. Make sure that these are factored in when you’re determining your trade show ROI.

Cost for exposure vs. sales

Trade show success involves setting up a mini store front. It takes out of the box marketing that can include promotional product giveaways. Make sure that you stay within your budget for these.

For example, if you’re giving away 500 promotional pens that cost .39 cents each, and you get one $2,000 sale from a customer who spotted a pen, they were more than worth it.

Were the marketing hours worth it?

Attending and promoting a trade show is a lot of work. There’s marketing materials, blogs, website updates and emails leading up to the event. Your audience needs to know that you’re there, and that takes several hours worth of work.

Don’t forget to add this in to the cost of the trade show. Hopefully the sales generated at the event are more than the cost of generating buzz for the event itself.

Measure every sales stream

Sales generated through a trade show can enter the stream in a variety of ways. Chances are that the marketing material you’ve provided includes telephone, email and social media contact information. It’s important to make sure that you still know what streams trade show traffic is entering through, so that these leads can be accounted for.

If your business has an extended period for the sales funnel, make sure that that time is also accounted for. You won’t have an exact determination on the ROI until all the potential leads are in.


In a digital world, not everything is about the immediate bottom line. Sure you have the current expenses that need to be paid, but maybe relationships created now can pay off bigger dividends in the future.

You’ll have to determine whether the benefits of the contacts made will pay off larger than the cost of the trade show. This is a factor that won’t show up in the immediate ROI.

Maybe you’ll find a new power partner, or someone who has a potential opportunity your business would be ideal for next spring. Intangibles such as these can make your trade show appearance worth it, even if the numbers may be less than ideal.


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