If you were asked what the true value of your trade show marketing efforts were, would you be able to answer? Most exhibitors do not track the percentage of leads brought in through trade shows, nor their return on investment. If you can’t recall the last time you looked at these numbers, you’re not alone.

The main reason why exhibitors don’t track and measure lead data is because management isn’t asking. However, things can change on a dime. If management decides that trade shows are no longer a good investment, you will have nothing to back up your case.

Not only is having data a great way to demonstrate your value, but it can also help you create more effective strategies, campaigns and designs. Let’s take a look at how you can gather the right data to support your program.

Determine the impact on your company’s revenue.

Tracking revenue after a trade show is difficult because you’re not closing most sales on the floor. Instead, you’re meeting with interested customers and sending them off to your sales  team. Depending on the product/service you sell, it could take weeks, months or years before a conversion is made.

The good news is that you can approximate the value using assumptions that are based off past experience from your sales team. To do this, gather the number of sales leads, the close rate and the average value of the sale. Multiply the numbers together to get your estimated revenue.

Add up your total savings.

Attending trade shows can bring in business while also saving your company money. Track all of your savings. For example, how many “meetings” do you have at a trade show? How much would it cost to have these meetings in a different setting (i.e., travel, lodging, food)? Other cost savings may include the reusing of exhibit materials, acquiring names for sales databases and eliminating field sales calls.

Factor in promotional activities and impressions.

List out the promotional activities that were seen or heard by your audience. People who visit your booth or see it from afar are considered impressions. Count the total number of people that you reached and determine what percentage of them fit your buyer persona.

Next, determine how much it would cost to get these same impressions using direct marketing or advertising. This data indicates your cost-per-impression figure, which helps you quantify the value of your impressions.

Calculate your payback ratio.

One final metric to look at is your payback ratio. This is done by adding together your estimated revenue, total cost savings and total promotional value. Divide this number by your total show budget to get your payback ratio. When you run this number for each event, you can compare apples-to-apples and determine which ones are most successful.

Don’t wait around until management starts asking for data on the success of your trade show events. Start collecting, tracking and measuring this information today so that you have what you need for future discussions.