Are Trade Shows Worth it?

Empty Trade Show Exhibition- Are They Worth It?
The fifth annual Keith Chegwin Exhibition – CHEGCON 2018 – was, to be honest, a bit of a letdown, despite this though, it was still the most popular of all the CHEGCONs.

If you’re new to the world of trade shows, you’d be forgiven for wondering if they are the cash producing, lead generation machines they are often made out to be.

In this blog post, we’ll answer the question:

Are trade shows REALLY worth it?

SPOILER: Some are, some aren’t.

Are Trade Shows Worth It - Disappointed

Obviously, there is no one size fits all answer, otherwise I could have ended this post with the previous sentence, but the team at Selby’s have put their thinking caps on (I’m not sure they wear ACTUAL caps, but I like to think they do) and come up with some of the key metrics to bear in mind when considering attending a particular trade show.

If you want to make the choice as simple as possible and not overcomplicate things, you’d do well to focus on these metrics.

The infographic can be seen on Selby’s original post here.

Are Trade Shows Worth It?
Image source: Selby website

Here is a summary of the main points to consider.

Total attendees

One of the more basic questions you should be asking is “how many people will be attending the event?”

There’s a couple of good ways to gauge this information, though it’s hard to get exact numbers (unless you’re a magician like me, and possess the ability to see into the future), you can ask the organisers how many people they are expecting. They should have a good idea of this. If not, that’s probably the first indicator of a badly organised trade show and a clue that this may not be the exhibition for you!

Aside from asking the organisers, you can do some field research and speak to your suppliers and competitors. Are they going to the trade show? If not, why not? Be forceful in your questioning. Tie them to a chair and make them give you full, information-packed answers. Kidnap their nearest and dearest if you have to.

You can also check out the reviews for last years event to see if projected numbers are realistic or not. If only three people turned up last year, it may be best to take the official line of “we’re expecting thousands” with a pinch of salt, and keep this trade show on your “one to watch” list.

(If you’re enjoying this blog post about trade shows, you might also like: 12 Trade Show Giveaways and Freebies that Your Stand Visitors Will Love)

Conversion rate

The only two things you need to concern yourself with, depending on your goals for the trade show are likely to be the following measures:

  1. Conversion rates of visitors to leads
  2. Conversion rates of leads to customers

Where you are with your business will determine which of these will be of most value. If you’re just starting out, you may be more interested in gaining leads, rather than customers, whereas a more seasoned outfit who’s attended other trade shows may be more interested in converting those leads into customers.

Work out which of these is more important to you and then try to determine if this trade show is likely to help you reach them.

Cost per acquisition

I won’t embarrass myself by giving any real-world mathematical examples here, but I’m sure you can work out some practical examples for yourself.

If you’ve looked at the conversion rate above and can remember how much it’s cost you to attend the show, you have pretty much all the information you need.

Divide one by the other and you’ll get another number. This is your cost of acquisition.

How does it look? Far too high? Maybe it’s not worth attending this one. If the figure is stupendously low and looks like a bargain, grab your exhibition stand and get over there sharpish!

Running to Exhibit at a Trade Show

Just watching that makes me want to have a lie-down.


I wish it was as simple as saying “Yes, all trade shows are excellent and well worth attending”, but, as with most things in life, it’s never quite that easy, though at least the infographic above makes it as simple as possible.

What do you think? Do you agree with the points, or have I missed anything out? Feel free to give me your thoughts in the comments below.

Or not, it’s not compulsory. 🙂


If you’ve done all the maths and figured out that a trade show IS worth attending, you may want to make the most of your exhibiting by employing a handsome (and modest) trade show magician to help draw attendees onto your stand and educate them about your fabulous offering!

I can entertain visitors to your stand with bespoke presentations that communicate your key messages and ideas through the medium of amazing magic tricks!

“Thanks for bringing to life what we do right in front of people’s eyes! You really struck the perfect balance on the stand and made the show a big success for us.” – Hydro 66

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Tell me all about your next trade show and I’ll tell you how I can make it more successful!