What's happens after your trade show event?

May 30, 2024

Given the substantial investment in exhibits, company executives are eager to see the returns they're receiving. Without concrete data to demonstrate the effectiveness of your exhibit program, it's simple for them to perceive exhibit marketing as a bottomless pit draining resources. This is why it's crucial to provide detailed metrics and analysis in your show reports to show the tangible impact of your efforts. By showcasing the ROI, lead generation, brand visibility, and other key performance indicators, you can prove the value of your exhibit program and secure continued support from executives. Don't let them see it as just another expense, but rather as a strategic investment that yields significant results.

So, what exactly are executives looking for in your show reports? Typically, they're keen on delving into four key aspects of your exhibit-marketing efforts: strategy, results, budget, and plans for enhancement. To address these points and showcase the value of your program, here are 10 essential sections to incorporate in your report.Executive Summary
The first section of your post-show report should be able to stand alone as a summary of the whole show. This one-page executive brief may be the only part of your report many of your executives will read.trade show events

The executive summary should include five succinct sections: your strategic goals and objectives for the show; the most critical results such as your overall lead count, quality of leads, press interviews, number of branding impressions, number of prospects exposed to new product(s), etc.; a summary of the exhibit and accompanying activities; a budget summary; and any future goals and recommendations.

Strategic Goals and Objectives
If you've done your homework before the show and written measurable, quantitative, and qualitative pre-show goals and objectives that have been approved by management, this section of your post-show report will be easy.

Start by providing the big picture - how your exhibit supports corporate goals and initiatives. Then, list each of your exhibit's pre-show objectives and evaluate whether you achieved them. Analyze any goals and objectives you did not meet and state how you will reach them at future shows or revise them to make them more relevant. If you're doing a show-to-show or year-to-year comparison, keep the information you're comparing consistent.

Sales-Lead Report
Most companies' primary reason for exhibiting is to gather sales leads, so the quantity and quality of the leads gathered is of the utmost importance to your executives since, ideally, this will generate sales and revenue for your company.

First identify the total number of leads; then break that down into a qualitative assessment. Categorize the leads as A, B, and C leads, based on the type of prospect (individual buyer, dealer or distributor, or past customer), decision making power, need for and interest in your product, time frame to buy, budget, and desire for follow-up after the show. All these criteria contribute to your company's ability to turn a lead into a sale. Clearly define your criteria for each lead category and list the number of leads gathered in each category.

Next, explain your lead follow-up process for each category of leads. What future follow-up is planned? How will you calculate and attribute sales to your participation at the trade show?

Finally, include hard numbers related to the bottom line. Calculate the cost per lead by dividing the direct costs of your trade show participation by the number of qualified leads. Talk with sales management to determine an estimated closing ratio of the leads, the potential average value of each sale, and a projected time to close them. Then include that information in your show report to give a more global view of the value of those qualified leads.

Press/Media Results
Identify the number of press representatives and analysts who attended your press events or met with your press liaison or executive management. Then include the number of favorable presses mentions you received within a specific period after the show. If possible, include quotes or examples of the most prestigious coverage. Calculate the cost of equivalent advertising to reach a similarly sized audience.

If you don't already have an established method for quantifying the value of press mentions, begin by contacting each publication to find out what you'd have to pay for an ad of comparable size. (If the magazine published a half-page story on your new product, find out how much a half-page ad would cost.) According to the Public Relations Society of America, media coverage is more than twice as credible and conveys a higher influence on consumers than paid advertising. So, multiply that cost by 2.5 to address the credibility factor of non-advertising coverage. Then include that figure in your report as the total value of press coverage generated at the show.

Exhibit Effectiveness
Include a brief description and evaluation of your exhibit, including a photo or rendering and a statement on each of the following four components:

 Exhibit properties. Was the design of your exhibit functional to reach your goals and objectives? Was the condition of your exhibit properties consistent with the image your company wants to portray? Did you have any security issues, such as corporate espionage, competitive reconnaissance, or theft of any product or equipment during the show?

 Product displays. What products did you feature, and how were they displayed? Could visitors identify your separate products or product lines from a distance? How did visitors engage with the products?

 Graphics. Did your graphics draw attendees into your booth from both far away and right in front of your exhibit? Were your messages clear and compelling?

 Floor location, booth layout, and traffic flow. How did the location of the exhibit on the show floor affect traffic flow? Did the size and layout of your exhibit invite visitors to enter and remain in your exhibit long enough to engage with your staff?

Promotions and Exhibit Activities
Review the effectiveness of each of your pre-show, at-show, and post-show promotional programs and sponsorships. This analysis can be both objective, such as measuring the number of attendees who returned a pre-show mailer to your exhibit in exchange for a gift, and subjective, such as feedback from press who attended an invitation-only press event in your exhibit to preview your new product.

Provide a brief synopsis of the type, length, and number of demonstrations and/or presentations held in the exhibit, including the total number of attendees who participated.

Report on any ancillary events, such as hospitality suites, customer thank-you dinners, hosted networking events, entertainment, co-sponsored events with partners, customer or dealer/distributor training, sponsored conference sessions, or participation by company employees or key clients in conference seminars.

Booth Staff
Evaluate the effectiveness of your booth staff, so you can make improvements for the next show. Analyze the following details:

 Number of staff members. Did you have enough or too many staff members working during setup and teardown and during show hours?

 Pre-show training. Review your exhibit staff's pre-show training in the following areas: strategy, product, boothmanship, and logistics. Was the training effective in enhancing your staff's understanding of show goals and in-booth behavior?

 Staff performance. Evaluate the productivity and effectiveness of your staff, mentioning your most effective members by name. Record problems with your staff, such as low productivity, tardiness or absences, or problems with customers.

Competitive Analysis
Include a summary about how your company stacked up against the competition. If you assigned exhibit staff to report on competitors' show activities, develop a comprehensive competitive analysis of competitors' products, exhibits, press kits, and events based on their feedback, and attach it to the report.

Everyone's pinching pennies these days, which means it's critically important to discuss your total show expenditures. Provide a comparison of your estimated budget to your final investment in the show. Point out everything you did to cut costs. If you still ended up going over budget, try to explain those charges and what caused them to come in higher than initially expected.


This segment serves to place the show within the broader context of your overall trade show program, taking into account both past experiences and future aspirations. If relevant, include a comparison of this year's results with previous years, highlighting any improvements or setbacks and explaining the reasons behind them. Evaluate the show's performance compared to other exhibitions you participate in, focusing on the return on investment and its alignment with your corporate objectives.

Delve into what aspects you aim to sustain and what areas you plan to enhance to elevate your exhibit program for upcoming shows. While it may be tempting to emphasize successes, do not shy away from acknowledging any weaknesses within your program. By proactively addressing these shortcomings with transparency, you showcase an understanding of potential areas for improvement and outline your strategies for rectifying them in the future.

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