Trying to budget for your first trade show? Exhibiting at a trade show on a tight budget can be a stressful process, especially if you’re a first-timer. Luckily, there are a variety of tactics you can implement to cut down your budget without hurting your exhibit’s visibility or results.
Below, we’ve shared seven inexpensive trade show tips to help you get as much as possible from your budget, whether in terms of visibility, lead generation or brand exposure.
Downsize your exhibit to reduce your total costs
Bigger exhibits mean bigger costs, both in terms of putting together the exhibiting and booking space in the exhibition hall. If you’re exhibiting at a trade show for the first time, cut down your budget by downsizing your exhibit to a more manageable size.
There’s no shame in being small, and the reduced costs of a smaller exhibit rentals can often help you more easily recoup your budget and generate a positive ROI from the event.
Register and book as early as possible
The closer to the event you register, the more you’ll likely need to pay to take part. Registering late for a trade show also limits your location options, meaning you may need to pay a premium for a spot on the event floor that isn’t worth the money.
Spend your budget efficiently by registering and booking for every trade show as early as you can. It’s also good to book hotels, transportation, and storage ahead of time to lock in low rates and save as much of your budget as possible.
Hold a contest, not a costly giveaway
One of the most common trade show attention-generating strategies is to give away products for free — typically, cheap items like pens or coffee cups. While these usually don’t cost much per unit, the total cost of a giveaway can quickly add up over the course of an event.
A better option is to hold a contest. Instead of giving away hundreds of cheap items, offer the chance to win a much more expensive, desirable item. Bonus points if your giveaway is for a product your company sells or manufactures.
Use social media to promote your exhibit for free
Does your business have a social media presence? If so, use it to drive existing customers and fans of your business to your trade show booth, all without the usual cost of advertising.
From blog posts to Facebook updates, use your social media presence to your advantage as a promotional tool for every trade show you attend. You’ll be surprised how many people drop by after reading a status update or seeing an Instagram photo of your team at the event.
First time exhibiting? Rent instead of buying
Buying a trade show booth can be a great decision, provided you’ve got a long series of events lined up in which you plan to use it. However, as a first-time exhibitor, it’s usually a much better decision to rent your booth instead of buying.
Renting your booth lets you save money in the short term, all while eliminating extra costs such as booth storage and maintenance. In short, you can save money while focusing on the event, rather than worrying about post-event tasks.
Choose a local event that doesn’t require traveling
Traveling to and from a trade show can be an expensive process, especially if you need to bring a large exhibit with you. Because of this, one of the easiest ways to spend less at your first trade show is to choose a local event.
Often, a small local event can produce better results than a larger regional one, provided you’re focused on ROI rather than total revenue generated from the trade show.
Whenever possible, negotiate for a better deal
Just like any purchase, it always pays to negotiate when you’re preparing for a trade show or other event. From discounts on your exhibit materials to early-bird pricing for your hotel rooms, asking for a deal can often result in you receiving one.
While negotiation won’t cut your trade show expenses in half, it can help you save a couple of extra percentage points off your total budget, giving you more money to spend on generating leads and attracting attention at the event.