8 Bugdeting Tips for Your Trade Show Exhibit


Budgeting for an exhibition can become a nightmare if you are not careful. Planning and considering the financial aspects of an event can make or break your investment. Make sure you bear in mind every possible aspect of your tradeshow when you budget any event as this is the only way to ensure a return on investment.

Prior to rushing in any given direction, be sure your marketing objectives are clearly defined, so as to avoid any unnecessary stress. By setting achievable and measurable objectives, identifying an appropriate target market and budget, selecting your ideal location/event will come with ease. Tracking your return on investment will be dependent on how well you organize for your exhibit. Thus, making future exhibitions a breeze!

The secret lies in being well prepared, so complete your checklist beforehand and don’t leave anything to chance.

Objectives Are Everything

Make sure you have SMART marketing objectives when you plan your event and keep them in mind for every aspect of your budget.

Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
Achievable (agreed, attainable).
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

Have a Strategic Plan

Remember to plan ahead and have a checklist that includes at least the following:

  • Space-Cost Calculations
  • Cost-Per-Square-Foot Calculations
  • Cost-Per-Lead Calculations
  • Elimination of unnecessary or unfulfilling suppliers or purchases (keep your objectives in mind!)
  • Pre-show promotion and lead follow-up
  • Right back-up and documentation to ensure you get everything you paid for, discounts included (and don’t forget to unapologetically ask for those discounts!)
  • Track absolutely everything and make sure you double check. It will come in handy for future budgets as well.

Choose the Right Venue

It is essential to demonstrate good judgement when choosing the trade shows or events you will participate in. Once clear objectives have been set, it is important to determine where your presence and awareness will be more useful. Once you have chosen the right event, make sure you choose a place that has the right space, visibility and traffic for you. Sometimes less is more if you are in the right place.

Have an Appealing and Effective Display

This is one of those factors in which one must be especially careful. The display you choose will reflect your company’s effort, and yours as an organizer. Your exhibition must offer a positive experience for your customers and assembly and dismantling must be done on time and correctly.

Once you have chosen a display that does justice to your brand or company, visualize your clients upon entry, and form a mental image of any accessories to your display that may be useful to you at the time of the exhibit. Also, think about any necessary services you might need to hire, such as assistance building the display structure.

Plan and Execute Effective Shipping and Handling

Don’t forget the shipping costs of the display (if applicable) and the transportation expenses of the staff you´ll have attending the stand. Other issues that are sometimes taken for granted are packaging, freight, and storage costs.

It is also fundamental to corroborate what type of insurance is needed. Insurance will never hurt!

Make Sure You Promote Your Event

This aspect refers to the most important (but not always affordable) process of attracting consumers to the event that you are planning. The key factor here is having the right people interested in it. They must be part of the ideal target market for your brand or products and services.

Remember that promotion is not only useful before the event, but during the event and even on-site.

Choose the Right Staff

Don’t invest money on an event if you will leave it in the hands of untrained, unprofessional or less than ideal staff. Once you have a great venue and display, make sure you make the most of it with the right people offering your products or services.

Keep in mind that if you plan to have guests (i.e. to give a conference or to motivate attendance to your event) a ‘lobby’ must take place. Treat those guests as if they were royalty so your attendees consider them to be royalty as well.

Don’t forget to assess the need and budget for the following:

  • Travel expenses (per diems, cars, drivers)
  • Tickets
  • Catering
  • Outfits
  • Models

Treat Your Visitors to Special Activities

Don’t just make it about the display or stand. Keep in mind the costs of certain activities integral to the main event, but that take place outside of it, either before or after. Consider this an investment, rather than an expense. The lack of a special courtesy can be decisive in the moment of making a good deal with your customers or suppliers.

People love to talk about their experiences, make this one memorable. Word of mouth can be the best form of marketing!

Never Forget ROI

Although your goals should become your maximum guide, you must keep in mind that you have to know how to measure your return on investment. It is definitely not worth investing any sum of money to try to reach the moon in a campaign that will throw an advance of just 100 meters. Do not throw money down the drain if you can not quantify your earnings or determine how well you meet your goals.

However, you should always acknowledge that if pursuing your objectives requires heavy investment, it should not be taken for granted.

Anything you can investigate prior to your event will help you establish the goals needed to maximize your budget. Make sure you take advantage of your business context and use your previous knowledge as leverage to meet your actual needs. If you are organized and thorough when you plan your budget, the execution will be a lot easier and effective ensuring a great event with many customers and the resulting money in your pocket.

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