Trade shows can increase sales, visibility, brand-name recognition, and your industry presence, even in a struggling economy. They also provide prime networking opportunities. Here are some ways to cut costs that will not interfere with your goals for attending these events.
Review the cost of the booth, taking into consideration that a less expensive location will be less prominent. Consider the location of the event and the expected attendance before making a commitment. Investigate the number of attendees at the previous year’s event and talk to others who were presenters to determine whether the show will be worthwhile for your business.
Once you have determined that a show is right for you, get the rates on booth rental. Unless you are doing several shows a year, renting a booth is usually less expensive than buying one. By renting you save on the cost of construction, transport, and storage. If you do decide to buy, consider a previously owned trade show display booth. A painted and redesigned booth can save you a significant amount of money. Also, look for displays that are lightweight and easy to break down and set up. Portable and modular displays can be significant cost-savers.
Bring enough people to man the booth and make your trade show experience worthwhile. Not everyone in the office needs to attend. Look for the least expensive mode of transportation and remember that you can get better rates on airfares and hotels by planning well in advance and shopping for packages and discounts.
Rather than use expensive glossy four-color brochures, opt for fliers and information sheets. Most people don’t read them anyway. Instead of ordering hundreds or thousands of pieces of printed materials, bring along a lightweight printer and run off what you need. Far too much money is wasted on excessive printed matter that ends up littering trade show floors.
Visibility is important but spending a lot of money on excessive signage is a common money waster. Think about using pop-up display ads and simple banners; that way, you can get away with spending a couple thousand dollars rather than $10,000 to $15,000 on very large, typically unnecessary signs.
Opt for small giveaway items with your company’s logo instead of brochures and elaborate signage to get your name out there. You’ll spend much less money and potential customers will see your company’s name each time they use the item. Pens, mugs, and mouse pads are perennial favorites, but you can get more creative with stress balls, magnets, and binder clips. The more useful the item, the more your name gets in front of clients. Giving away something that relates to your business is another idea. For example, a commercial printer might give away business-card carrying cases, while a sporting goods company could opt for sweatbands or golf towels. Travel clocks or toiletry bags work well for those in the travel industry.
Based on the number of people manning your booth at any given time, determine how many tables and chairs you will need and rent accordingly. If the event is nearby, you might consider loading a van and bringing your own (if permitted).
Bring along incidental items to save on shipping or purchasing items once you are there. See what you have in the office or what you can borrow from employees’ garages. This includes power cords, staple guns, scissors, masking tape, and basic tools such as screwdrivers.