Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 09 2014

How Much Will It Cost To Attract New Attendees To Your Trade Show?

By David McMillin



Twenty dollars and ten cents.

That’s the median amount trade show organizers are spending on each verified attendee on their show floors, according to a new report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. CEIR looked at a wide range of shows to compare how much marketing campaigns cost and which channels are receiving most of the dollars. Here’s a look at three of the key takeaways.

1) Big Shows Mean Big Budgets.

The survey showed that the average total promotional budget, excluding labor and overhead expenses, clocked in at $75,000. Not surprisingly, though, organizers of the biggest trade shows also enjoy access to the biggest marketing budgets. Shows with gross revenues of $2.5 million or more spent an average of nearly $215,000 on marketing expenses while smaller shows must make their dollars mean more. Exhibitions with less than $750,000 of revenues had a median promotional spend of just $30,000.

SEE ALSO: 4 Tips Every Trade Show Organizer Should Share With Exhibitors

2) Breaking Up With Tradition Is Hard To Do.

Online and mobile technologies have paved the way to new marketing opportunities, but trade show organizers tend to travel on a more traditional highway. Email and direct mail accounted for 56 percent of attendee promotion dollars. Print advertising came in second with show organizers committing an average of 10 percent of their budgets to promotions in magazines and journals. While many respondents indicated that they dabble in social media, online advertising and SEO marketing, they aren’t committing much money to these new tools.

SEE ALSO: How To Expand Your Trade Show Audience

3) The Personal Touch Is Still Very Powerful.

In the midst of all the emails, postcards and online posts, show organizers are still working to establish human connections with attendees. Sixty-six percent of respondents were very positive about the effectiveness of providing their exhibitors with complimentary tickets to give to attendees, and 65 percent of show organizers believe that maintaining a presence at other trade shows helps engage prospective attendees.

SEE ALSO: Will This New Technology Transform The Trade Show Experience?

Is It Time To Adjust Your Marketing Approach?

While direct mail and email are effective methods for reaching attendees, it’s clear that every organizer is relying heavily on both of them. Translation: these two pathways are getting very crowded with loads and loads of messages. Rather than continuing to compete in these clogged channels, show organizers may want to consider shifting some resources toward a more robust social media communications plan.

Interested in gaining insights into how to start the conversation with your attendees on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest? Click here for some free advice from the ACTIVE Social Media Playbook.

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