Trade Show ROI in a Down Economy

Times are tough. Here are steps to take to achieve a high ROI on your trade show investment.
Latest posts by Lloyd Stone (see all)

Tougher Times

Times are tough. During a down economy such as the one we are in, many companies have travel restrictions and employees tend to travel less in general. Consequently, the number of trade show exhibitors and overall trade show attendance can decrease, trends that are validated by a recent Tradeshow Week Exhibition Management Survey.

These may seem like negatives on the surface. However, you can leverage these trends to your company’s advantage, as the lack of crowding at trade shows provides your firm with a competitive opportunity to get in front of your prospective clients more easily and to have quality face-time with them at the show.

It is more important now to exhibit at trade shows in these difficult economic days than when times are good. Buyers seek better values and new reliable sources when times are tough.

Buyer funds are restricted, so buyers need assurances that you the supplier will deliver as promised. Ways to achieve this include:

  • Promote efficient and speedy delivery of promised goods.
  • Offer value-added features to your product line.
  • Do your best to keep minimum quantities requirements easy to comply with.
  • Demonstrate that there is a face behind your company name… a “go-to person,” which comes from relationship building, which in turn, brings repeat business.

Seek Professional Assistance

Trade shows offer great potential, especially during a down economy. The right item at the right price will do well if displayed properly. Making that commitment to invest in your company at a trade show can show a great return on the investment if you make wise decisions. And it can help you gain a competitive edge on competition that is not getting in front of the trade show audience.

To fulfill the potential that a trade show investment offers, seek professional assistance. Invest in a trade show exhibit provider. Find the provider who will listen.

Then tell your story. You be the writer, the designer of your exhibit. Let the professional exhibit builder/ provider be the advisor, the educator, the editor.

Rent a Custom Booth

Have a booth built to rent. Do not have a booth built to purchase. By renting, the booth should look like new each time you contract for its use. By renting, you attain great flexibility – something especially important during uncertain economic times.

As you grow, you may need more space in which you can exhibit. Your exposures may change. One show you may have a corner, the next an inline 3 wall.

One show you may be able to build 8’ tall – another show the height restriction may be 12’.

Some shows have line of sight (low side wall) rules. Other shows allow 8’ height on all walls. By renting, you can roll with the punches and take advantage of show management’s sales department opportunities.

A rental exhibit allows you to change the size and configuration of your booth from show to show. Such flexibility allows you to experiment with size, shape and color to create the space that best presents your product.


When times are tough, many potential exhibitors cut back on their trade show involvement. This represents an excellent opportunity for you to take advantage of the decreased competition and to get an even bigger ROI out of your trade show investment. To that end, it’s important to do it right, follow through on your value promise, leverage the knowledge of an expert, and build flexibility into your trade show approach.

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