Tag Archives: Tradeshow ROI

Looking Past the Tip of the Iceberg: Tradeshow Planning for Success

Which part of the iceberg is dangerous?

I often say to clients, and when presenting to tradeshow newbies: thinking about a tradeshow or conference in terms of “the day of” is like thinking about an iceberg in terms of what you see above the water.

It’s only the tip of what’s going on, and if you avoid thinking about (and handling) the rest of it, you are likely to have a very bad experience!

For specifics, check out:

Elements of Tradeshow Planning

Preparing for Your Tradeshow

and other items in our strategy, planning and preparation categories.

Or give us a call and see how we can help you step up your tradeshow exhibiting to success!


Deborah Elms (@D_Elms) is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping businesses grow by creating and retaining customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events, including high impact, professionally designed display booths, promotional marketing and guidance on what works and what does not.



I recently attended a presentation by sales expert Duane Cashin,  which riveted the entrepreneurs at the TAB Long Island Prosperity Series on March 9th, 2010.  (The Alternative Board is a peer advisory group for business owners.)

He spoke about “Sales in The New Normal” to a room eager to understand the new world as business owners.

It got me thinking about the trends our clients are facing in sales, marketing, and exhibiting, and I jotted these notes down afterwards.  There may be deeper and longer thoughts later.

1) The “New Normal” in selling:  your product or service is not just competing with your competitors’ products but with other budget items, so you must make a compelling business case for its purchase.  (This was one of Duane Cashin’s key ideas.)

2) The “New Normal” in marketing:  in a networked, social media-oriented marketplace, communication is not one way from you to your client, and it isn’t even 2 way; communications are multi-node integrated experiences between many different conversations, plus traditional forms of marketing communications.

(This is informed by Duane’s presentation, but also grown from experiences I had at #EventCamp2010, explorations with #eventprofs in Twitter and my own observations)

3) The “New Normal” in tradeshow exhibiting and other events – my thoughts:

In the “New Normal”, exhibitors need to produce better results with less budget, staff and time.   They’re competing for budget with every other marketing project, and marketing is competing with every other idea that can impact the bottom line.

Exhibitors need to be more nimble, more targeted, and quicker to differentiate themselves with their prospects.  How?  They must compete less on the superiority of their products or services and more on their ability to “get” – and help with – their own prospects’ “New Normal” in order to make a connection.

Got questions on how the “New Normal” is impacting you?  Or need ideas on how to implement?  Let’s start a conversation.  Reach out at http://www.twitter.com/d_elms, leave a comment, or call (631) 979-0283 or (888) 912-9116.


Deborah Elms is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping businesses, non-profit organizations and associations create and retain customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events.


Duane Cashin http://twitpic.com/1cmqrq next to one of displays Imprinted Originals designed and produced for TAB Prosperity Event (as well as for most of the sponsors).  Duane Cashin’s website: http://www.duanecashin.com

Duane after his presentation.  (Like the bannerstand?)

The Alternative Board of Suffolk County:  http://www.tabny.com

The Alternative Board of Naussau County: http://www.tabli.com



“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Experience seems to bear out the wisdom of this quote.

I’ve known people who set their sights on a “round the world trip of a lifetime” and succeeded, by determining the specific financial and logistical steps required and following them, even if it took months or years.  On the other hand, people make resolutions to lose weight every January and then don’t figure out discrete actionable changes and follow through – ending in no appreciable change.

Is there any reason it wouldn’t be the same with tradeshows?

If you don’t have specific goals, create strategies to meet them, and decide in advance what will make a “win”, all you are doing is spending money and wishing you will succeed.

Check out our growing Planning category on this blog.  We’ll include some 101 level as well as more advanced best practices.

Or call for some actionable steps and support in creating Exhibiting Success.



Trade shows give you the chance to meet new prospects, reinforce existing customer relationships, and expand product or brand awareness.

But let’s face it – trade shows also cost time, money and effort. When all of these are tight, you might be tempted to decide they just aren’t worth it.

Before you decide trade shows just aren’t worth it – take a look at some facts.

The average cost to close a sale originating at a trade show is less than 2/3 the cost for leads from other sources.

75% of people attending trade shows arrive with a specific goal in mind.
Closing a sale from a trade show lead takes an average of 1.6 personal sales visits versus 3.7 for non-show leads.

You can talk with as many prospects in an hour as normally takes a day.

More numbers about trade show attendees (from industry surveys):

  • 95% of decision makers look for their current vendors at shows
  • 88% of attendees, on average, have not been contacted by your sales staff in the previous year
  • 87% share information they learned at shows; 64% talk to at least 6 other people
  • 77% found at least one new supplier at their last show
  • 76% asked for quotes
  • 72% say show attendance influences their buying decision
  • 71% of attendees can authorize or approve purchases
  • 70% of attendees are planning on buying at least one product
  • 51% of executive decision makers request a follow-up visit
  • 50% are there to see what’s new
  • 46% of decision makers make purchase decisions at a show
  • 26% signed purchase orders as a direct result of a show


1. Trade shows shorten the sales cycle so each sale costs less to close;
2. Attendees are arriving these days to meet specific needs;
3. Shows are the next best thing to bringing prospects to your office!

If 57% of attendees only attend one show a year, and 40% of the people at any show are first-time attendees – you have to ask yourself, will they meet (and remember) you or your competitor?

Do yourself a favor – exhibit at trade shows!

To be successful in making connections that lead to sales through trade shows and networking events, read our other Tips on Selecting, Preparing for, and Following Up After Trade Shows.

And if you need help – with your booth (from table top to 20 foot gullwing) or with imprinted apparel, memorable giveways, or table coverings, call the Tangible Branding Experts at Imprinted Originals, LLC.

Sources: Center for Exhibition Industry Research, Data Strategies and Group, Exhibit Surveys, and Lorimer Consulting Group