CEIR report reveals benchmarks for trade show evaluation

Sales lead generation, branding efforts and customer relationship management are the top reasons businesses participate in trade shows, according to new industry research.

The latest study from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reveals how exhibitors measure the success of participating in business-to-business trade shows.

CEIR president and chief executive Brian Casey said: “What success looks like for an exhibitor and which metrics are used to evaluate the outcome of participating will vary.

“One size does not fit all. This study provides benchmark data on the most typical practices of exhibitors."

The centre surveyed 568 executives from businesses that had exhibited at a B2B exhibition in the past two years.

When asked to rank their top three objectives for exhibiting, 68 per cent of businesses listed sales lead generation, 55 per cent listed branding efforts, while 47 per cent named relationship management with customers.

"The business-to-business, exhibition channel is a powerful sales and marketing vehicle that enables exhibitors to achieve a wide range of important business objectives,” Casey said.

The most popular benefits of face-to-face from trade shows were building brand awareness (88 per cent), maintaining relationships (84 per cent) and allowing prospects to evaluate products (76 per cent).

Research showed 93 per cent of exhibitors had a process to evaluate the outcome of B2B exhibiting; 52 per cent said it was informal, while 30 per cent mix of formal and informal tools.

Return-on-investment metrics were used by 62 per cent of exhibitors, with the most popular metrics being sales revenue to cost of exhibiting (45 per cent) and sales revenue potential to cost of exhibiting (43 per cent).

Eight out of ten exhibitors said they qualified sales leads from exhibitions, but only 60 per cent used a tracking system.  The report found about 20 per cent of sales leads converted to sales.

“The top two reasons why exhibitors do not track leads relates to a lack of resources, both staffing and a system to accomplish this task,” the report stated.

The study found most exhibitors would use real-time tracking of attendee movement, through near field communications (NFC), if the technology was available.

To purchase the full report click here