Entering the world of trade shows is a big deal, and it can be more than a little intimidating when it comes to knowing where to start. It’s easy, very easy, to get in over your head and find yourself spending more than you should or is worthwhile. For this reason, you should plan carefully, pay attention to deadlines, and adhere to a strict trade show booth budget so that you are fully prepared and confident when the day of the show arrives. At Exhibit Experts we’ve been producing trade show booths for over 22 years. During that time we have found 7 insider secrets that will help you stay in budget for your next show:
1. Stay Local
When designing and ordering a trade show booth, there are a few costs that are easy to forget about. A quick cost that trade show attendees easily forget is the drayage, or shipping cost, for their new exhibit. Making sure your booth gets to a distant location on time and in one piece can be difficult and complicated. Picking a show closer to home is one way to help minimize this cost, where you may be able to transport your own exhibit, rather than paying hefty shipping and handling costs.
2. Rent a Display
Some argue that buying a display is cheaper in the long run, however, renting may be a good option for those just starting out, and hopefully as your business grows so does your display. Reduce the worry and stress of storing your exhibit and customize your exhibit based on each event and the needs of that specific show. Learn everything you can about displaying your product before making a purchase. See where people congregate, what catches their eyes, what excites them and what bores them. You’ll save money and get a feel for how your product is best represented, then you can start thinking about buying your own custom trade show booth.
3. Advertise on Social Media
Social media is quickly turning into the most cost effective way to advertise your trade show booth. Don’t spend money on printed flyers that may or may not end up in the recycling bin. Establish your brand online and work on finding followers before even arriving at the trade show or conference. Add a fun hashtag and encourage visitors to share via their favorite social media platforms.
4. Consider Starting Out Small
Don’t spend money on a booth larger than what you need to begin your business. With a larger booth, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin not just with the cost of the booth and shipping, but also in having enough resources to fill up the space. If you’re efficient with your space, and stay relevant to your product, the customer experience will be better for it.
5. Do Some Recon
Using the flip side of social media, do some research into what last year’s show looked like by doing a simple search for images, comments and articles written about past shows. Contact the trade show coordinator to inquire about the expected number of attendees and what deadlines you need to adhere to. Whether you’re shipping your display or bringing it with you, finding out what the shipping and setup guidelines are can make this experience less stressful. Being unprepared for an event is an easy way to lose money. Your first trade show is not the time to put together new and untested ideas to try to “wow” your audience. Come up with an objective and make sure all parts of the trade show are working towards that objective, and nothing extra.
6. Plan Ahead
Plan for the unexpected. If you’re new to trade shows it’s a good idea to contact the coordinator and inquire about the minimum charges, requirements and what your space comes with. Generally items like chairs, trash bins, carpet padding and cleaning, set up and takedown are add-ons that add up quickly. Is insurance required? Are there any limitations on giveaways or how to obtain attendee information at the show. It’s always good to have a small contingency trade show budget within your main budget. If you end up not having to dip into the extra budget, that just means you’ve come in under budget -better to be safe than sorry!
7. Contests Instead of Handouts
People love handouts, but a contest will get people just as involved, and cost you a lot less. Don’t spend money on pens, stress balls, and other swag items that people may or may not find valuable. Save those for a later trade show when you get a better sense of your audience and instead engage them in a more creative way that is lighter on your wallet. Doing a contest can also be a fun and creative way to make data and lead collection a lot more enticing than a simple business card or badge scan. Be honest with what you are doing with their information, make it fun, and people will love it!
If you’re just starting to plan for your next trade show, you don’t have to do it alone. A trade show requires a lot of careful planning and detail-oriented steps so that you avoid throwing money away. If you would like help on other ways to save on your first trade show, or need a guide to help execute these tips, feel free to contact us.