Tradeshow Marketing

For the Love of Money- 5 Low-Budget Trade Show Strategies for Small Businesses

How can small businesses with a limited trade show budget get more from their investment? Check out this post for 5 tips that can help.

Trade shows can be valuable to any small business’s marketing repertoire. From building brand awareness to generating new leads, they can offer extensive benefits to help businesses take their development and growth to the next level.

But while trade shows have proven their mettle over the years, the high exhibiting costs are a concern for most small businesses trying to recover from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, businesses can make a splash even with a limited trade show budget if they take advantage of the right low-cost, high-impact strategies. Here are 5 of them to help you begin-

 5 Trade Show Booth Ideas for Small Budget

1. Size Doesn’t Matter- Go for a 10’x10’ Exhibition Booth

While a larger booth space will provide you with a bigger area to design and plan the booth, the size itself doesn’t guarantee success. You can achieve and even exceed your event objectives with a smaller 10’x10’ booth and save a lot of money in the process if you plan it right.

[READ: 10X10 Booth Ideas for Trade Shows]

At bigger events like the CES, the trade show booth space alone costs around $50-$60 per square foot. So, a 10’x10’ booth will cost $5,000-$6,000. But if you go for a bigger booth space, like 10’x30’, it’ll set you back by $15,000-$18,000.

And I’m just talking about the booth space here. You’ll have a host of other expenses like-

  • Booth rental
  • Booth design and set-up
  • Booth activity
  • Staff expenses
  • Travel expenses
  • Giveaways for the attendees
  • Other expenses like Wi-Fi

If you want to plan your trade show booth on a budget, smaller booth space is something you should definitely think about.

2. How About Sharing the Booth Space?

If you have to plan a trade show on a shoestring budget and even a small 10’x10’ space seems exorbitant, booth sharing can be an option. You can approach another business that offers products/services complementing your offerings and share the booth expense with them.

For instance, a small home furnishing brand could partner with a paint company exhibiting at the same event. So, the partnership will not only cut the exhibiting costs in half, but the complementing products/services could also assist each other in generating more leads at the event.

[READ: Trade Show Lead Management Planning]

However, check with the event organizer, as booth sharing is not allowed at every trade show. Also, before getting into such partnerships, check your brand’s compatibility with the other brand.

Share the booth with a complementary business to cut the exhibition costs and assist each other with the event objectives.

3. Save Money by Renting the Trade Show Booth

While a custom booth can be an effective strategy to differentiate yourself from competitors, it'll increase your expenses considerably. From furniture to displays and more, it'll take a lot of money and effort to put together an eye-catching custom exhibition booth.

While the cost of building a custom exhibit can significantly vary based on the design requirements, booth type, and the designing company, it can be as high as $100-$300 per square foot or even more. Not to forget, having your own booth will also involve transportation and storage expenses.

[READ: How to Create Trade Show Budget (With Sample Trade Show Budget Template) ]

On the other hand, you can rent the exhibit booth at around $75-$100 per square foot.

If you’re looking for trade show booth ideas for small budget, rent the booth instead of buying. If you succeed at the event, you’ll always have the option to invest in a custom booth next year.

4. Target Local Events and Trade Fairs

While bigger events generally attract more attendees, this is another aspect where bigger doesn’t always mean better. In fact, small businesses often benefit more from smaller events that attract local crowds.

Moreover, with fewer attendees, it’ll be easier for your booth staff to build relationships with the booth visitors.

[READ: Trade Show Booth Staff Training Guide]

Needless to say, there’ll also be a significant difference between the amount you’ll have to spend at bigger events like CES and smaller local events.

If a smaller event can help you with your business objectives, why spend a bomb on a bigger trade show? Moreover, you might even be able to exhibit at 2-3 local events in the same amount you’ll be spending at a larger event and generate far better results.

5. Consider Custom Trivia for Engagement

You need to make the right investments if you want to generate appreciable ROI on a smaller budget. One booth activity you can consider for your booth is a custom trade show quiz.

You can customize the fun and challenging booth game per your event objectives to help improve engagement and brand awareness. Moreover, the quiz will also digitize lead collection to help you collect more leads and let the booth staff focus more on building relationships with the visitors.

[READ: Why Have a Custom Trade Show Quiz at Your Booth]

While the trivia will require some investment, it can drastically improve your ROI and bring you closer to your exhibition objectives. 

Invest in a booth activity like custom exhibition trivia to attract more visitors, boost brand awareness, collect more leads, and generate better ROI.

Succeeding at Trade Shows with a Small Budget

The opportunity to engage directly with potential customers at trade shows can prove highly rewarding. And while many small businesses avoid trade shows as they have a reputation for being very expensive, you can succeed even with a limited budget.

Use the tips discussed in this post to save money and leverage trade shows to achieve your business objectives.

If you’d like to know more about trade show trivia, ask us for a demo and witness how our custom quiz can help you attract and engage booth visitors.

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