Tradeshow ROI – 5 Tips You Need for a Successful Tradeshow

By October 14, 2009 December 3rd, 2012 One Comment


Before spending thousands on a tradeshow, know the metrics needed to calculate your tradehsow ROI; and get a few tips on how to maximize your success.

We just returned from the Search Marketing Expo in New York City last week where we launched our new SiteJuice™ product. We brought a big team of 9 people to help manage the expected crowd of 2,000-3,000 people.

tradeshow roi smx

To calculate your tradeshow ROI, you first need to define your goals, and that has to coincide with what your spending and what you are currently paying to acquire a new customer.  That means if you are currently spending $100 to acquire a new customer, and you plan to spend $20,000 on the tradeshow, you need to get 200 new customers out of the show, which is 2,000 leads at a 10% conversion rate.  If that sounds too high, you need to spend less.

OK, so now that you have a rough outline of some goals based on expenses, what is your strategy?  Our strategy was people. The more people we had, the more people we could talk to about our product and sell its benefits.  We maintained folks in the booth, and other consistently roamed around not only talking to people and driving them to our booth, but also scoping out the competition.  This seemed better than blowing a few thousand bucks on some lame bag stuffers that everyone throws away, or an over-priced sponsorship for lanyards or Wi-Fi access.  Brand awareness is fine, but it doesn’t sell your product, particularly if nobody knows who you are.

So here are a few tips that I hope you will find valuable the next time you search out the next tradeshow:

Tip #1 – Make it uber-simple to sign up for your product. We created special landing page for folks to sign up for our product that had only 4 fields.  Also, we did not require an email verification, and once they entered their info, they were logged straight into their account and we showed them how to set it up.  Normal sign up processes won’t work for a tradeshow.  Even with this simple process and 3 laptops ready for signups, we still had lines forming.

Tip #2 – Simplify your giveaway prize. This was tough for us in the sense that we had all kinds of cool ideas from scavenger hunts, to awarding people for participation and more.  The key is to make it as simple as possible.  We gave away a MacBook Pro as the grand prize, and 5 SEO Makeovers as other prizes.  In retrospect, we would have been fine with just the MacBook Pro giveaway.  Even though the makeover was easy to get in (all you had to do was follow us on Twitter), it was difficult to talk about too many things.  You really have 1-2 minutes to talk with folks and you want to spend those precious minutes trying to sell them on why they should use your product instead of all the various prizes you’re giving away.

Tip #3 – Refine your selling points and messaging based on the audience. We spent a lot of time researching who the audience was and we broke it out into “pros”(people who were experts in search marketing) and “joes” (not experts), and we developed messaging and talking points based on whether they were an ad agency, SEO consultant, or someone just getting into the industry.  We made 11×17 laminated sheets that broke down the benefits depending who they were, and we had a 100% conversion rate for everyone we walked through the “cheat sheet”.  Most importantly, our team met internally several times before the show to discuss what to say, what not to say, and more.  I think this helped immensely in getting over 200 signups in 14 hours of floor time.

Tip #4 – You don’t need a $4,000 booth set up. We made a 10′ x 8′ vinyl backdrop with very large text (only 3 bullets) and a white box where we could run a projector against.  The best thing was that this fit in a suitcase so we didn’t have to pay shipping at all.  The backdrop was about $400, and we purchased 3 yoga balls for $21 each and $60 of Jelly Belly’s for folks to grab.  I even went to Best Buy before the first day of the show and purchased 3 HP Mini’s, and then returned them with no re-stocking fee after the show was over.  We had a $240 floor piece that we couldn’t dismantle and take back, so we gave it to someone at the convention center to avoid fees.

Tip #5 – Huddle. Our team (as large as it was) huddled before the show and after the show each day.  We shared interesting things that we heard from people, we talked about process improvements, and we talked about numbers and if we were on target with our goals.  On day two, we made some significant changes that I believe helped grow our sign up rate by over 30%.  People wanted to see screenshots, so we swapped out the 60 second video with 7 static screenshots that rotated every 15 seconds on the projector.  This way you could actually have a conversation with someone and show them the screens as they rotated by.

All of these tips should help you increase your tradeshow ROI by reducing costs and maximizing conversion rates on your end goals.  Let me know how you made out!

Ryan Kelly

Ryan Kelly

Ryan is the founder and CEO of Pear Analytics and has helped hundreds of customers with their Internet marketing since 2003. He has spoken on various topics of SEO, Analytics and other marketing at conferences in New York, Chicago and Vancouver. Clients he has consulted include Sears, KMart, CareerBuilder and PEER 1 Hosting. Ryan currently teaches two Internet marketing classes at Trinity University in San Antonio.

One Comment

Leave a Reply