How to Use Audience Research to Get Better ROI at Trade Shows

Source: Multifamily Exec

Source: Multifamily Exec

Would you invest in an expensive marketing initiative without researching customer awareness and perceptions? Of course not.

And would you continue investing in the marketing initiative without measuring effectiveness or ROI? No way.

Yet many companies don’t research their marketing efforts at trade shows. Which is surprising, as trade shows are a big investment with costs of the booth, staff time, and travel. For these considerable expenses, quality ROI is a must.

If you want great ROI from trade shows, you can’t approach a show with a message or display that you think will speak to attendees. We often get caught up in crafting flashy messaging while failing to ask customers what they want. It’s better to walk in with this information on your side, knowing what attendees hope to gain from a trade show. Conducting audience research beforehand can help you align your message with attendee expectations and develop a booth experience that resonates with customers.


Before the show, brands can perform quantitative awareness and perception research among various trades to understand their mindsets towards trade shows. Be sure to ask relevant questions that elicit valuable feedback, rather than loaded questions meant to bolster internal agendas. If the research is designed well and interpreted correctly, the data will tell you what’s important to attendees.  

For example:

  • DON’T ASK: Which of these two things would you rather see at the show?

  • DO ASK: What information is most valuable to you?

Moreover, the research can reveal what customers don’t want from a trade show or what they’re tired of seeing. With this knowledge, you can avoid wasting your time and money on an outdated and irrelevant booth. Insight from your data can help create an engaging booth focused on what really matters to customers.

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Pre-show research also gives you a benchmark against which you can measure brand equity after the show. Compile a list of attendees who scanned at your booth and solicit their feedback on elements you found to be important in the preshow survey. This will give you an idea of how well you met the needs of attendees, how much brand equity you gained, and how you can hone your approach in the future.

In addition, companies can conduct annual research to determine which shows are most influential, what attendees expect to learn at trade shows, and any unmet needs attendees might have. But you don’t have to do this on your own. You can partner with The Farnsworth Group, a leading market research company with 30 years of experience in the home improvement and building products sectors.

Contact us today to discuss ways we can measure pre- and post-show brand awareness among your target audience and help you generate better ROI this trade show season.