So You're Investing in a Trade Show - Show Me the Value!
By: Linda M. Malesic, President, Malesic Associates

The trade show - The colossal sales presentation with pizzazz.

What a great opportunity for your company to increase sales, add to your customer base, and gain name recognition. You may be marketing your company at a national exhibition or a local chamber business expo. No matter where you display your product or service, you need to calculate the investment and compare it to your payback.

First, what are the costs involved. Here is a list of the most common expenditures, but you may find that you have additional ones for your organization. Consider these ten expenses:

  1. Entrance fees
  2. Booth fees
  3. Cost of your display
  4. Cost of your giveaways and prizes
  5. Cost of written materials, cd's etc.
  6. Cost in time to design display, materials, etc.
  7. Salary for employees
  8. Downtime for employees
  9. Travel expenses
  10. Out of pocket expenses
Now you have calculated your list of costs. Be very realistic. Most of the time it costs more than you anticipate. Make sure that you have additional funds set aside for those unexpected costs. And there always seems to be a few - just like going on vacation. We always spend more than we think we will.

Second, what do you expect in terms of real profit now that you know the potential costs involved in your trade show venture. Remember - this is not just another "show and tell." It's not just a free day away from the office.

What are your real goals? How many sales do you expect to gain? How many new customers? How many appointments are you targeting? Will your name be more recognized and how will you know that it is?

If you were previously an exhibitor in this show, ask yourself these questions. What did I gain from the show? Did I meet my goals? Did I implement a tracking system so that I can now weigh the value of this show?

Tracking, tracking, tracking... This is key. Too often companies have made a trade show investment and aren't sure if it will be worth investing again. Tracking is a key component for every aspect of your business - not just for the trade show!

So now you are ready. You have asked yourself many questions - questions dealing with your costs, your goals, and your tracking system. You are now ready to make an informed decision based on some real accountability.

Here is one last question. It's the same question that your customers ask you - SHOW ME THE VALUE!!!

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