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How to Dominate Your Next Trade Show on a Budget

Are you preparing for your first trade show? Exhibiting at a trade show as a small business can be an intimidating experience, especially if you’re exhibiting alongside bigger, more established competitors.

Despite this, it’s still possible to generate a significant ROI from your first trade show on a limited budget. In fact, exhibiting with a low budget can often be an advantage, helping you to limit your costs and focus entirely on the aspects of trade show marketing that produce the best results.

From utilizing earned media to setting up meetings ahead of time, there are a variety of tactics that you can use to dominate your first trade show on a budget. We’ve listed four tactics below, all of which you can put into action for your next trade show, convention or other event.

Make the most of free marketing platforms

Buying paid media for a trade show can be an expensive process. From online display ads to radio advertising, targeting people either online or offline can require an extensive budget that many small businesses simply don’t have.

A great, low-cost alternative to this is to use free marketing platforms to your advantage. Often, a strategically planned Facebook or Twitter campaign can generate just as much attention and results as far more expensive conventional advertising.

Before your first trade show, engage your audience by posting as much as possible to platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Use engaging content such as videos, photos and promotions to let people know where you’ll be and how to find you.

Rent your trade show exhibit instead of buying

Designing and building a custom trade show exhibit is something that every trade show-focused company should do when the time is right. However, if you’re just getting started, you can save a significant amount of money by renting your trade show booth instead of purchasing one.

Rental exhibits can be customized to suit your needs using banners and custom displays, giving you almost all of the customizability of a conventional trade show booth without the up-front cost of designing and building your own exhibit.

When you rent a trade show booth, you can also avoid the costly storage fees that can add up if you decide to store your booth between events. The end result is simple — much lower costs for your business with 99% of the impact on event day.

Focus on low-cost, high-impact freebies

One of the most common trade show mistakes is spending too much money on free giveaway items. These items all too often end up going unused, costing your business both in financial terms and in opportunity cost.

A better, lower-cost approach is to focus on giving away inexpensive items that your prospects are likely to actually use. Branded notepads, pens, coffee cups and other cheap items all serve a real purpose in an office setting, all while costing very little to manufacture.

While a flashy giveaway can attract lots of attention, it’s return on investment that you’re aiming for. As such, it’s best to ignore flashy giveaway items and focus on cheap, simple items that can sit on the desks, tables and countertops of your prospective customers for years to come.

Go paperless and send brochures via email

Ever seen a trash can at the end of a trade show? It isn’t a pretty sight. Hundreds of brochures, all carefully designed and flawlessly printed, often end up being thrown out en masse, largely by attendees that just weren’t that interested in the products and services being advertised.

For an exhibitor, this means money that’s wasted not just on producing brochures, but on giving out brochures to people that are unlikely to become customers. Add extra waste into the picture and it’s easy to see how conventional paper marketing materials can fall short.

A far better approach, particularly from an ROI perspective, is to collect email addresses from your prospects instead of handing out brochures. This way, you can follow up via email with a PDF file or link to your pricing page, all while starting an organic email conversation.

Need help with your first trade show?

From exhibit design and rental to installation and dismantling, we know trade show marketing from A to Z. Our team specializes in helping businesses of all sizes generate optimal ROI from trade shows, and we’re here to help you make your first trade show a measurable success.

Interested in learning more about how we can help you with your next trade show? Contact us now via phone or using our online contact form to talk to a member of our team and learn more about our services.

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