Analyzing Trade Show ROI Metrics

By on April 20th, 2020 in Corporate

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NFMT - Baltimore 2019 [Source: ]

NFMT – Baltimore 2019 [Source:]

Charles R. Goulding and Preeti Sulibhavi dig into the metrics of return on investment from trade shows.

Like many others, the 3D printing industry utilizes trade shows as a major element of their marketing programs. With the global cancellation of trade shows, many organizations will be analyzing when to resume trade shows and at what participation level.

The National Facilities Management Trade (NFMT) organization, established by Building Operating Management, regularly hosts major trade shows. NFMT recently distributed the following metrics that concluded trade shows are still one of the most cost-effective ways of obtaining business. According to NFMT, there is a cost per interaction.

For instance, the exhibit interaction capacity is calculated as:

Exhibiting hours x Booth staff on duty x Interactions/hour/staffer = Exhibit interaction capacity

The NFMT Cost Per Interaction (CPI) is:

Total show investment x Shipping, staff, travel, etc. / Conservative number of exhibit interactions

The NFMT metrics are formatted nicely and other organizations can add their data to fit their facts and circumstances. Our firm’s trade show experiences illustrate that outcomes can be improved with other pre-show and post-show planning and follow-up.

NFMT - 2020 [Source:  NFMT ]

NFMT – 2020 [Source: NFMT]

For example, notifying existing and potential attendees that your firm will be at the show improves results. And, while at the show concurrently arranging customer meetings, hosting dinners, organizing social events and speaking at workshops improve the results. Lastly, closely examining the attendee characteristics and professional demographics, as well as customizing targeted post-show follow-up, all improve results.

We have one national client who operates 100% virtually and they always use trade show attendance as a means for fostering teamwork since their team normally doesn’t have the opportunity for personal interaction with clients for obvious reasons. The company does this by having a special offsite event and inviting a few key customers.


This year companies have had to cancel trade shows due to social distancing measures in response to novel coronavirus spread and instead arrange numerous virtual events. The results of these alternative marketing processes will have to be compared to trade show metrics in terms of ROI and CPI.

By Charles Goulding

Charles Goulding is the Founder and President of R&D Tax Savers, a New York-based firm dedicated to providing clients with quality R&D tax credits available to them. 3D printing carries business implications for companies working in the industry, for which R&D tax credits may be applicable.

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