Return on Investment (ROI) for Attendee List Rental by Tradeshow Exhibitors

From time to time I’m asked, “if my exhibiting firm sends postcards to show attendees to promote our booth, what return on investment (ROI) should I expect?” Like many things, questions seem to come in streaks and this past week this question came up multiple times and therefore is the motivation for this post.


There are so many aspects to effective direct marketing in general, and attendee list rental and mailing specifically, that the best way for me to reply to the ROI question is in three parts, namely 1) direct mail statistics, 2) testimonials and 3) a case study.


1) Direct Mail Statistics


Response Rate Benchmarks

Direct Mail Response Rate Benchmarks


Link to summary of 2015 Direct Media Response Rate, CPA and ROI Benchmarks

2) Testimonials

Testimonials were left off out of our last website update. This blog post provides a brief sampling of responses from a variety of exhibitors from a few different shows.

3) Case Study

Exhibitor profile: Camping & backpacking cookware manufacturer

Situation: Launching a new solar powered lantern at the tradeshow

Challenge: The Company knows that buyers for outdoor recreation stores are most likely to place an order after seeing the product firsthand, meeting the company owners face-to-face and discussing a distribution relationship

Strategy: Therefore, getting buyers from outdoor recreation stores into the booth will be key for sales and marketing efforts

Tactic: Rent the show’s attendee list, mail a postcard with a strong incentive to visit the booth
– Audience: Target the 1,778 store buyers that indicate they purchase camping and backpacking cookware
– Message: Bring the postcard to the exhibitors booth for a free solar camping lantern
– Timing: Mail postcard offer two weeks prior to the start of the show
– Media: Oversized postcard with space to introduce the brand, explain the product and promote the call-to-action offer for a free solar lantern


1,778 postcards mailed
187 buyers returned postcards to the booth
10.5% response rate

44 new accounts were establish at the show with orders within two weeks
22 of the new accounts returned the postcard for a free solar lantern
11.8% conversion rate

$3,500 average new order from the 22 new accounts within two weeks
$77,000 incremental sales from the 22 new accounts within two weeks
50% of incremental sales would have happened without promotion (assumption)
$38,500 adjusted incremental sales
35% gross margin on adjusted incremental sales
$13,475 gross margin on incremental sales
$1,995 cost of marketing campaign
$1,776 cost of free product giveaways
$3,771 total promotion cost (marketing and products)
$9,704 net margin on incremental sales / return on investment
257% return on investment (ROI)