Proving ROI That’s Hard to Ignore
Proving return on investment for a trade show can be challenging, but it helps make sure that your efforts stay focused on your program goals. It also prepares you for reporting to upper management program successes in a language they understand.
It's important to provide as much context as possible to help make this more than just a number. If you really want to prove ROI in a way that is hard to ignore, you'll need to dive beneath dollar value stats and uncover the true story waiting to be told.
Calculating Overall ROI
You'd think it would be as simple as dividing the total sales that you can entirely attribute to the show by the cost to exhibit (the space, cost to attend, exhibit production and installation, team member travel, etc.). If your direct sales were $76 and your expenses came in around $47.50, then the ROI on your event would be $1.60 for every dollar spent.
But it's never that simple.
For one thing, it's rare that sizable sales take place on the show floor. Usually qualified leads are passed to sales and the follow up after the show generates the sale. Often the “sale” is really an opportunity to bid on the business with an RFP. Another step away from direct revenue attribution to the show.
Break Everything Down
To prove ROI that management can't ignore, event marketers have to dig deeper and measure much more than revenue/expenses. The acknowledged master at teasing out ROI from an exhibit is Ed Jones whose article in EXHIBITOR magazine methodically outlines hidden sources of ROI in an exhibit that can be used to prove value to the organization's bottom line.
How about cost savings that kept expenses down? The promotional value of being at the show versus advertising dollars? Other revenue besides closed sales leads?
Ed Jones not only reminds us that there is more to measure at a show than leads and revenue, he supplied EXHIBITOR with a handy Payback-Ratio Worksheet to step the enterprising exhibit marketer through valuing the various components of a trade show exhibit.
With these kinds of metrics and the ability to “talk the talk of upper management,” exhibit marketers can not only show that face-to-face marketing is a valuable asset to the marketing program, they can show how well they understand that marketing has to be an important contributor to a company's bottom line.