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Cost per contact - checklists in pills

How to optimize investments in exhibitions by increasing visibility and useful contacts?

The exhibition market has become over the last decade so heterogeneous and full of proposals that for the companies it is very difficult to choose and identify events that respond to their needs, often resulting in errors of evaluation and therefore unprofitable experiences or poorly significant if you consider commitment lavished.

We are always a bit hesitant when it comes to exhibit at a trade show or participate as a sponsor at an event. It is money well spent? How to calculate it?

Often these events are super advertised with generic contents that increase visitors but blur the opportunities for relevant contacts with new leads and customers. This means poor returns on investment and a loss of confidence towards mechanisms that are an important part of our marketing budget. It would not be a bad idea to assess whether a trade show has brought enough new business to continue to justify the costs of participation. This information allows us to decide how to optimize the budget dedicated to these expensive activities. To understand whether it makes sense to participate in a trade show, you have to verify the cost per contact, the return on investment (ROI) and traceability. Of course, in addition to the facts&figures, and other considerations, such as the maintenance of a leadership, creation of distribution networks, upgrading, branding, etc. .. but honestly, with the current climate we feel it is not beneficial to underestimate the importance of ROI and Cost-contact.

How to Calculate Cost-Contact?

The cost per contact of a trade show is obtained by dividing the direct and indirect costsincurred for the realisation and issuance of an act of communication (exhibition space, fittings stand, communication tools, time spent by employees, board and lodging, etc..) with the number of useful contacts (addressees) exposed to such communication.

Estimate cost per contact generic = Event Total cost / number of total visitors

Estimate cost per contact useful = Event Total cost / number of visitors useful-target

How to calculate the ROI?

The best way to track the ROI is:

ROI = (Gross Margin – Total cost of event) / Total cost of event

The result of the calculation will not be final until the cycle of the sale data is finalised at the end of the event. When we have this final figure, we can look back and assess whether the investment was valid, setting a parameter for comparison with other activities. As long as the gross margin is superior than the total investment, you will have a positive ROI. Another task will be then to establish if the result is enough (or not) to justify future participation in the event. After having fixed the total costs, we need to establish how many leads and how many sales came through the participation. The best way, is to fix immediately a convention name to all leads generated, regardless of their source (badge, scanners, business cards, e-mail addresses collected, etc.)., Labeling them with the name of the event within the business contacts management system. If this is done through the use of a CRM, you can trace, periodically, the sales development based on the tags of each event, and once the sales cycle is closed, you can calculate the exact ROI for every activity. Although the sales cycle takes a long time, it is advisable to share with your sales team the partial results at different levels of the commercial pipeline and determine if it is worth or not worth attending. The partial results, compared with the previous analysis, will suggest us the trend quickly and the possible final result of our investment.

Checklist in pills


  • Demand information about the exhibition to the organizer.
  • Make sure it is a trade show appropriate to your business needs.
  • Once you have decided to participate, send your registration form to the event.
  • Designate an internal coordinator of the "Project Show".
  • Call a meeting with all business sectors, informing on "Project Show" and clarifying what the activities will be, the time limit, the responsibilities. The ideal would be to establish a working group.
  • Define who will be present at the show.
  • Develop the design of the stand (committing specialized companies) and wait for the approval of the organizer.
  • Select products/samples to bring to the show and arrange a timetable for the preparation.
  • Plan the support material, such as technical documentation, "display", "poster", etc.
  • Book hotels and travel tickets in advance.
  • Outline a communication plan to attract more visitors.
  • Send a message to potential interested to visit the stand.
  • Check if you can insert oneself as speaker in conferences, meetings that will be held during the fair in order to intensify the promotion of the company.
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