Stretching Your Trade Show Budget

Posted on 23, March, 2020

Last Modified on 22, October, 2021

Sure, you’d love to head to a trade show with a big, glamorous display that’s going to ‘wow’ everyone and have the best swag to giveaway of any exhibitor there. Unfortunately, not every company’s budget allows spending extravagant money on trade show displays and other items. That doesn’t mean you can’t ‘wow’ people with what you can afford and still make exhibiting at trade shows a wise investment.

Here are some tips to consider when budgeting for your trade show.

Promote your booth digitally: It costs nothing to have customer service, sales and other company staffers add a message to their email signature indicating that you will be at an upcoming trade show, where you will be located and what you’ll be offering. If you use an email service to email blasts, this is good information to include. You control your social media messages and it’s 100% free to use Twitter, Facebook or any other social channel you use to promote your booth.

Invest in people: You can reduce some costs by sending less staff members to the show. That could be disastrous if they’re not well trained. Take the “teach a man to fish” tale by training and sending your best staff members if you are on a budget. A quality booth staff with proper training is more affordable than big displays and certainly more valuable to the company and its directives at trade shows.

Giveaways: Maybe one of the areas you want to save money on is little giveaway items. If you’re not looking to stock your table with thousands of pens or mugs, one of the best things you can do is giveaways for one or two big ticket items. This helps create interest, potentially bring in leads and save you money.

Buy an adjustable display: If your company’s plan includes exhibiting at multiple trade shows per year, it would make sense to buy a display that can adjust to different booth space sizes to avoid having to buy one to fit a 10’ x 10’ and other unique sizes.

Replacement displays: If you are attending a trade show or have in the past, you already have the frames and hardware for your banners and displays. If the hardware is still in good shape you can still update graphics for your exhibit by ordering replacement banners that allow you to re-use your hardware.

Save trees, don’t print: You might make a few sales or at least gain some leads by handing out sell sheets and other marketing collateral. But they ultimately end up in the trash at some point. Most attendees are carrying smart phones or possibly small tablets. Get your information to them in a PDF or reader version on the spot. Use QR codes or other scannable materials rather than pay for thousands of printed items.

Track your own leads: At some shows, you can rent a scanner that works by tracking the bar code on attendee’s badges. If you can use an app to track leads, develop your own system or just use the business card method that can save money from your trade show budget as well.

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