The first edition of The Profitable Trade Show by Michael Hough ...
is now sold out. But we are working on the next edition which we hope to publish in late 2004. Meanwhile, this web site provides practical, "how-to" information for all who produce face to face events such as exhibitions, trade shows and conferences.

Profit Tips
White Papers
Large Show Roundtable

Also Available

White Papers Index

W1 - All is Not Well

W2 - Sample of a Memo to Content Partners

W3 - Ten Commandments for Speakers

W4 - 100 Tips in 75 Minutes

W5 - All About E-Newsletters

W6 - The Other Two Legs

W7 - Five Mistakes Associations Make

W8 - 15 Attendance Promotion Tips

W9 - Ten Questions to Ask When Considering a Launch

W10 - 15 Cost-Saving Tips

W11 - 15 E-Marketing Tips

W12 - Strategic Review of a Show

W13 - Launching a New Event

W14 - Avoiding Attrition Penalties

W15 - The Case Against Audits

W16 - Co-location for Fun and Profit

W17 - Improving the Association Show

W18 - International Attendance Promotion

W19 - Helping International Visitors Obtain Visas

W20 - Fixing the Machine

Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum

Large Show Roundtable


15 Attendance Promotion Tips

by Michael R. Hough

  1. Take a holistic approach to attendance promotion -- the direct mail piece is only 10% of the total effort needed.
  2. A successful show brings the right number of qualified attendees to the show floor. Work on all three elements and you will have a very profitable event.
  3. If you manage the expectations of your exhibitors, you will not need to produce huge numbers of warm bodies. Under promise and over perform.
  4. Rule of Thumb: budget $50 per verified attendee for all marketing expenses. This is for direct costs only and does not include staff salaries.
  5. Focus on power buyers as attendees vs. users. Power buyers buy (for example) 1000 units whereas users buy only one unit.
  6. Be sure the community of interest is large enough to support your show. On average, 1% of the community (or universe) will come to the show.
  7. Rule of Thumb: plan to generate 10 verified attendees per 100 nsf (one booth). To illustrate, if your show has 300 booths, you should have 3000 verified attendees.
  8. Take it as your responsibility to be sure your exhibitors get a ton of quality leads.
  9. Focus your public relations on those magazines (and associations) who actually influence your industry.
  10. Open the show to all associations and publications serving your community of interest not just the sponsor.
  11. Direct mail remains the preferred medium but use it effectively by concentrating on the 20% of the universe that generates 80% of your attendance.
  12. E-marketing is gaining as the preferred medium but be sure your understand "permission marketing," specifically what true "opt-in" means.
  13. Telemarketing can work, but make "warm" (rather than cold) calls to past attendees and inquirers.
  14. No shows (those who pre register but don't show up) are very costly. Have a separate promotion plan to convince them to come.
  15. Finally, measure the results of each promotion effort so you know what improvements to make next year.

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Michael Hough is an industry consultant and author of The Profitable Trade Show. He welcomes discussion on this topic at