Trade Show Cost-Per-Lead Data

Posted: July 15, 2011 by David Lamont in Budgets & Spending, Interesting Data, Opinion, Promotions
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How much did exhibitors spend on average in 2010 per face-to-face meeting at their exhibit? $276 according to Exhibit Surveys Inc. data reported in April 2011 by Exhibitor Magazine.

How much did they spend per attendee who entered their exhibit? $189, according to the same source.

The survey covered many different types of events, however those numbers are consistent with averages you might expect at IT centric shows.

There were some “High Tech” specific numbers reported:

  • Traffic density in 2010 was relatively high at 3.1 attendees per square foot of exhibit space. The average was 2.2.
  • The time spent visiting High Tech exhibits was also above average at 9.4 hours and 2.6 days per show.

My PR and lead generation firm, Marketingsage, offers Event Marketing, Trade Show, and Seminar Support Services because such events have always been an important promotional method for marketers of storage products. And although the cost-per-lead (CPL) is higher than for online advertising campaigns the value received is different.

A CEIR study once estimated that 78% of attendees are interested in products and up to 60% are part of a buying team visiting the show. Additionally, CEIR estimated that the average number of calls required to close a trade show lead was 1.6. This compared favorably with an average 3.7 calls to close a field sales lead. That’s why salespeople like trade shows (in their territory).

How do virtual trade shows stack up to the real events for marketers of storage?

In my experience, virtual shows have not stacked up in terms of the quality of the leads. However, the CPL is much lower, especially when you account for travel costs. I found the CPL was more in line with online advertising. But the campaign setup time and effort was significantly greater. I may change my mind on this at some point, but after my initial experience with virtual shows I concluded that there was too much work involved for the marketeers compared to the result gained by the salespeople. Additionally, I felt I could have gotten leads of similar quality with easier to manage advertising campaigns.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

  1. Best metric for any source or campaign is the actual CPLC cost per lead closed. Most tradeshows are negative. You can use CPLC to eliminate events except those with genuine profitable return – but 99% of shows will attempt to discredit this metric because the event is only a passive excuse using branding. This is the sum total of resources consumed, time and labor to close the sale based on Sales articulation (offer) and lead source. If for example the lead was trade show, your calculation is cost of lead closed in 7 days, 30 days and maybe 60 days. The objective is to lend estimating accuracy with historical metrics. I disregard branding as passive game and direct response as true sales, meaning we motivated an unnatural response in the prospect to buy now. Any sales closed after 30 days means the motivator was not strong and at 60 days the client remained in control. Over 60 days means either a mismatch or client decided on their own. My business/Myself have been making cash sales on the tradeshow floor inspite of exhibitor contract terms. We sell 3K-1.5K per person training paid by the employer never by individual. Our role model is Claude Hopkins. ONLY the CPLC by source/offer shows the real cost/profit by event or source. Otherwise yiu end up with a lot of time wasting leads that when a handful close its obvious the net cost would have been cheaper to just giveaway trips to hawaii. Direct response/on-the-spot sales is the unnatural act of true buyer motivation. You need to know the truth in order to quit wasting capital on branding or presence. Only true measure is immediate sales overcomming normal obstacles, everyone else is just giving excuses for lack lucluster performance.

    “insanity is the opposite side of normal, only history decides if its genius” – me, Dave Cannon (fearless leader and chump that pays for everything).

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