The Trade Show Dilemma: To Book, or Not to Book?


Many companies exhibit at the same trade shows, year after year. If you’ve been exhibiting at one show for several years, it almost becomes automatic to drop next year’s event into the calendar as soon as you finish up this year.

While the biggest shows in your industry are essential for maintaining your company’s brand, is that true for every show you go to? How many others do you exhibit at, simply because it’s what you’ve ‘always done’?

With businesses investing tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars every time they exhibit at a trade show, would you still exhibit if you knew for certain that show wasn’t delivering in terms of revenue?

Why I said no to a trade show

I was recently contacted by the organiser of a trade show Akkroo had exhibited at earlier this year. It was our first time exhibiting at this event, but based on all our research, the speaker program and the target attendees, we expected it to be a fantastic event for us.

However, after looking at the leads we had collected, and seeing how many (or rather, few) had progressed from lead, to Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) or Opportunity, it was clear this event hadn’t met our expectations. On paper the trade show was the perfect fit for us. It seemed like the best place to meet good-fit prospects, but in reality this wasn’t the case.

Our lead data painted a clear picture: this trade show wasn’t the right fit for us as exhibitors. It certainly wasn’t the place to spend a big chunk of our marketing budget, when other trade shows delivered better-fit sales prospects.

So, what can you do to make sure your events budget is focused on the big-hitters, instead of being drained by underperforming trade shows and events?

Two steps to decide whether to re-book a trade show

1) Run the numbers

Take a look at the leads you collected at this show over the last few years. How many of those became Sales Qualified Leads, Opportunities, or Customers? You might assume that one show performs really well for you, because your stand is always busy. But in reality none of those leads ever progress through your sales funnel.

If you’re due to re-book a trade show or exhibition in the coming weeks, take some time to run the numbers. Don’t say yes as soon as the event organiser gets you on the phone. Take the time to gather the data you need, to work out whether the opportunities collected at the show are worth your team’s time, plus the cost of exhibiting.

2) Have the confidence to say no

I know what it’s like in the weeks after a big trade show. You’re getting seemingly endless emails and phone calls from the organiser asking you to re-book for next year. For the biggest shows, where prime stands get snapped up in a matter of weeks, the pressure is even greater.

If you’ve exhibited at this trade show every year for the past ten years, taking the decision not to exhibit next year can feel like a huge leap of faith. You’ll likely have lots of questions from your team, your boss and your events reps.

But if all your lead data shows that the event doesn’t work for your company – especially if it hasn’t been a good fit for several years – that’s all the proof you’ll need. It doesn’t matter if every year your team comes back from the show and says it went well, or that your stand was really busy. Numbers are what matters, and it’s time you started basing your trade show decisions on hard facts rather than gut feel.

Data-driven decisions for trade show exhibitors

Just like you use data to make decisions about your digital marketing activities, with the right tools you can collect all the data needed to use when making decisions about trade shows and events.

This is one of the benefits of using a universal lead capture solution like Akkroo, which makes it easy to integrate lead capture on the trade show floor with your CRM and marketing automation systems. By joining up event lead capture with the rest of your sales and marketing activity, you can track the progress of every single lead, and properly attribute revenue to each trade show or exhibition.
Learn more about Akkroo's universal Lead Capture Solution