The Power of Measuring Trade Shows

October 31, 2023

Valerie Carstens

Valerie Carstens is branding and communications strategist for Skyline Exhibits. Her specialties include corporate brand positioning, key message development and communications strategy.

As marketers, we understand that every dollar in the budget counts, and trade shows often represent the most significant investment in our budget. Most exhibit programs are treated like checklists, but they require a more strategic approach to deliver on business objectives. This ongoing pressure leaves marketers wondering how to create measurable and memorable exhibits that align with business objectives.  

Most exhibit marketers have experienced returning from a trade show, and the CEO asks, “How was the show?” That’s a touchy, and often dreaded, question. If you have no clear metrics to measure, you’re left responding with “Great!” and hoping the conversation ends there. 

Effective measurement is not something that can simply be tagged on to the end of the exhibit process. It must be included at the beginning and should comprise of four detailed stages: discover, define, activate and analyze. If you follow this process, you gain invaluable insights that allow you to refine your exhibiting program continually.  

The discover stage sets the foundation for your exhibit strategy by identifying objectives and understanding your target audience. This is also when to connect with business partners to discuss specific objectives and justify your budget to leadership. 

During the define stage, we formulate and design an exhibit experience that is focused on your business and marketing objectives. Determine clear and measurable goals and delve into your target attendees and desired actions, driving your exhibit toward business results. To make a lasting impact, we recommend dividing your exhibit design into zones with specific messaging and assigning booth staff based on their expertise. This ensures your attendees are guided through each step of their journey, encountering relevant and impactful messaging at every turn.

Measurement should not be an afterthought. Starting in the define and discover stages, determine what success will look like and which metrics are essential to capture, and then align measurement with your exhibit and your business objectives. 

With purposeful design in hand, it’s time to activate. This stage involves building and developing an action plan that brings your exhibit to life – both physically and digitally. By transforming concepts into reality, your exhibit experience takes shape in the physical space, structure and digital activations. At this point, you should determine when and where to utilize digital measurement tools, enabling you to fine-tune your exhibit’s impact. 

In the analyze stage, deep-dive into your exhibit’s performance, reporting on crucial factors. By summarizing your goals, objectives, metrics, roles, responsibilities and measurement tools, it becomes your guidepost in future exhibit planning. Of course, your booth staff plays a critical role in accurately capturing data and insights throughout the attendee journey. With comprehensive training on activation zones, their roles, key messaging and how they support your objectives, they become valuable assets in ensuring accurate data collection and reporting.

In a recent survey, we discovered that exhibitors want to measure their booth’s performance but often need more know-how. If you need help, reach out to an exhibit measurement specialist to help you confidently navigate the trade show measurement process.


Partner Voices
For the past 18 years, BlueHive Exhibits has been a steadfast partner for both national and international companies, catering to their trade show and event needs.