Tradeshow Marketing

7 Trade Show Tips to Make Your Event a Success Under a Budget

Don't let your tight trade show budget be a cause of concern. Find out how to plan and execute an awesome exhibit with a limited budget.

While the inflation seems to be in control for now, it has undoubtedly made everything more expensive in the US. This can be concerning for trade show exhibitors. Mainly because many businesses are still recovering after the pandemic, and marketing budgets have been trimmed considerably.

But exhibiting at a trade show still makes sense as it allows businesses to come face-to-face with their potential and existing customers. And while bigger budgets make planning a trade show easier, you can still succeed with limited resources and careful planning. Here are some tips for creating a low-cost trade show plan-

Trade Show Planning on a Budget

1. Go for the Must-Haves and Skip the Good-To-Haves

There’s virtually no limit to how much you can spend on your exhibit. But a good chunk of this would mostly be spent on ‘good-to-haves’ and not ‘must-haves.’When working on a trade show plan, especially with a limited budget, it is vital to understand this critical differentiation.

For instance, building a custom booth from scratch can work in your favor as you can customize it the way you want. But is it a necessity to exhibit at a trade show? Not really. Rental booths can also be customized to an extent and help you save hundreds and thousands of dollars that can be better spent on other aspects of your booth.

So, before you start working on your trade show plan, ensure you're fully aware of what your booth should have and which you can probably skip.

[READ: The Ultimate Trade Show Checklist]

2. Start Planning the Trade Show in Advance

One of the best trade show ideas is to plan your trade show at least a few months in advance. It'll give you enough time to plan every aspect critical to your success carefully. Moreover, it can also help you save a good amount of money.

Everything is generally cheaper when booked in advance, from travel, hotel, and booth staffers to warehouse services. On top of that, organizers also tend to offer early bird discounts to exhibitors who reserve the booth space as soon as the bookings open. 

Start working on your trade show plan in advance and make all the bookings at the earliest to save more money.

3. Go for a 10X10 Booth Instead of a Big One that No one Sees

No, you don't need the largest available booth space to grab the eyeballs. Even a small 10x10 booth can deliver excellent event returns. When you're on a budget, give more importance to the booth's location than the size. A small 10X10 booth can do the job if you choose the right elements and a location that will likely attract a larger crowd. 

And if you're worried about how to fit all the elements in a small booth and make your event a success, read our blog below, where we talk about some fantastic 10X10 booth ideas to make your event a success. 

[READ: 10x10 Trade Show Booth Ideas]

4. Build Relationships and Negotiate Discounts

You’ll mostly work with multiple vendors and suppliers to set up your exhibit, and a few of them should be able to offer discounts, especially on bulk deals.

So, discuss your budget with them to know the best rates they can offer. As they work with several exhibitors, they can also assist you in making the most of your available budget.

Building mutually beneficial relationships with vendors and suppliers has a lot to do with one-on-one conversations. Thus, while you can fill out forms or send emails to get the conversation started, it can be more rewarding in the long run to build a more personal connection with that one sales member in the organization or go even higher up if you can. 

But again, you should ideally do this at least a few months before the event. Most suppliers won't offer discounts when the event is around the corner.

5. Go Digital to Avoid the Printing Costs

Whether it is a food, healthcare, or technology trade show, you can easily save considerably by reducing your reliance on printed materials. Digital technologies can easily replace printed posters, brochures, and banners.

For instance, you can place a QR code on your trade show booth, which visitors can scan from their phones to view the product page and may also be a product demo. You can also consider installing touchscreen panels to make the visitor experience more interactive.

Moreover, digital elements can easily be customized and used for multiple events, unlike printed materials, which typically last only for a single event.

Look for ways to replace printed materials with digital technologies to save money while also being perceived as a more technology-driven company.

6. Select a Booth Activity That Delivers

Making the most of your budget also requires you to make smart investments that could support your event objectives. For example, booth activities are a great way to attract and engage visitors. But not every activity will deliver the expected results.

For instance, some trade show games, like our custom booth trivia, are known for their ability to attract the crowd and provide their visitors with a memorable experience. In addition, they can allow exhibitors to boost brand awareness, collect more engaged leads, and improve their trade show ROI.  

So, choose a booth activity like a custom trade show trivia quiz to stand out from the crowd and get closer to your event objectives.

[READ: Interactive Trade Show Booth Games VS. Other Promotional Activities]

7. Avoid On-Site Delivery and Choose Advance Warehouse Delivery

You can either choose on-site delivery or advance delivery to the warehouse to ship all the stuff to the event venue. If you have enough time, it’d be better to go with the advance delivery option. Most OSCs (Official Show Contractors) generally allow exhibitors to ship their freight 30 days before the event.

Compared to getting the freight delivered to the event venue on the setup day, advance delivery offers peace of mind as everything gets delivered in advance, and there's no last-minute rush. Moreover, advance delivery is also 10%-15% cheaper than on-site delivery.

Go for advance warehouse delivery over direct on-site delivery to save money and avoid the last-minute rush.

Succeeding at Trade Shows with a Limited Budget

Rather than how much you can spend, trade show planning is more about efficiently managing the budget earmarked for the event. Use these trade show tips for a cost-effective booth that can help you achieve your event objectives and grow your business.

If you’re looking for a fun and effective trade show activity, our custom booth trivia quiz can be an excellent choice. We personalize the trivia quiz according to your event goals to help you attract, engage, and convert. Register for a free demo to learn more about how we can help.

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