When it comes to growing your small or mid-sized business, ROI is everything. Approached with the right combination of planning and action, trade shows can be a fantastic, low-cost, high-ROI way to meet new customers, make more sales and grow your business.
As one of the country’s trade show capitals, Southern California is a great place to develop your business through trade show marketing. However, high exhibitor fees, hotel bills and other costs mean that getting started can be a fairly expensive process, especially for small businesses.
Luckily, there are a variety of tactics that you can use to keep costs limited and increase return on investment as a small business trade show exhibitor in California. Below, we’ve listed four of our favorite tactics, from renting instead of buying to booking ahead of schedule.
Rent your booth to get a feel for the event at a low cost
If you’re exhibiting at a trade show for the first time and have a limited budget, it’s generally not a good idea to sink a large percentage of your budget into a custom designed and built exhibit made specifically for your business.
Instead, a better approach is to rent your booth and customize it using custom displays, which let you give your booth a sense of personality at a much lower cost than a full custom design.
While custom booths can command a sense of authority and give you huge exposure, they’re also a significant investment. Since you’re just getting started, focus on keeping your costs low by renting your booth and avoiding a major commitment.
Contrary to what many people believe, rental booths are surprisingly flexible. You can choose from a variety of dimensions and layouts, add furniture or items such as LCD displays, or even reconfigure your booth for maximum exposure throughout the event.
Set a budget and design your presence around it
One of the most common mistakes small businesses make when it comes to trade shows is designing an exhibit and presence, then working out how much it will cost to turn the concept into a reality.
The end result is a booth that, while potentially successful, costs far more than it needs to and rarely produces an optimal ROI.
If your number one goal is return on investment, set your budget before you start designing your booth. This way, you’ll need to account for costs like exhibition space, transportation and display equipment with a clear limit in mind, rather than the other way around.
Budgeting isn’t fun, and it can often limit your creativity and impact. However, it’s a great way to limit your investment and ensure you don’t spend beyond your limits, making it easier for you to generate a positive return on investment from your trade show.
With this said, it’s important not to budget too aggressively. You need to invest in your exhibit to stand out at a trade show, and cutting too much of your budget can often have a negative effect on your return on investment if it makes your business look less visible or professional.
Consider exhibiting at a smaller, local show to start with
One of the biggest advantages of large trade shows is that they let you reach a huge audience of potential customers. However, this comes at a cost — exhibitor fees for the largest events are usually much higher than for smaller, industry-focused or local events.
If your key focus is return on investment, you’ll often get better results by exhibiting at a smaller, local trade show than by going straight to the biggest event of the year.
Remember, when you’re getting started, going big isn’t always the best approach. Starting with a smaller, less expensive show might put a ceiling on your results, but it also lets you try trade show marketing without the expenses of a larger event.
This means that not only will you limit your costs — you’ll also gain valuable experience that can help you generate the highest possible return on investment at your next trade show.
Book everything as early as possible to avoid late fees
Finally, one of the easiest ways to improve your return on investment from a trade show is to pay for everything — from your hotel rooms and transportation to your exhibit, floor space and tickets — as early as possible.
Most trade shows offer early bird rates for exhibitors that register as soon as the event is made public. If you’re confident that a certain trade show is a good opportunity and have the chance to save money by registering early, it’s a good idea to take action.
It’s also worth preparing your booth, free giveaways and other items as early as possible. Taking action early not only helps you avoid the rush that can occur before large events, but it can also give you more room to negotiate deals with your suppliers and partners.
Contact our expert trade show team
Are you interested in attracting new customers, closing new deals and generating more revenue for your business? Our team specializes in helping California businesses get great results from trade shows, conventions and other events.
For more information about our services or to speak to a member of our team, please contact us via phone or using our online contact form.