The Trade Show Budget

It can’t be said often enough: planning is the key to a successful trade show. No matter how good your product or service, if you don’t plan for all the variables, you’ll be hit with unexpected costs, loss of revenue, and the loss of motivation or budget to do the next show. Establishing a budget prior to the event can help ensure a lucrative exhibition.

One of the most expensive features of a trade show is the booth display. Rentals are always a possibility, and the cost to do so will vary with seasonal demand, size and layout of the booth, and “extra” design costs. If you own the components for your booth, you’re one step ahead. Knowing the materials you have, and may need to add, will make it easier to determine any outlays for updating your booth or adapting it to the exhibition’s standards. Updating a booth display is infinitely less expensive than redesigning an entire booth or renting each time you exhibit.

Since different shows charge varying amounts for booths based on size and location, always check with the event organizers well in advance to determine your cost. Bigger isn’t always better, but location is always paramount to a successful display. A smaller booth size in prime real estate is worth it when it comes to determining your space costs. If you’re forced into a less-than-ideal location, increasing your booth’s size may help gain the visibility you lose with a sub-prime location. Plan for both eventualities, but securing your spot early will give you a better idea of the flexibility you’ll have with the rest of your trade show budget.

Staff time spent preparing for the event should be considered part of the trade show budget. Training, loading, traveling and lodging, and staffing the event are all pieces of the exhibition puzzle. Leave one out and you blow your budget. Incorporating all these elements will also give you the truest cost of the show and help determine future participation.

Depending on your level of outreach, marketing could take a chunk out of your budget, but it doesn’t have to. Social media and email are relatively low-cost methods of reaching your target population before and after the event. A well-trained staff can maximize these media and keep the effects of the trade show coming in long after the event is over. Budget time as well as finances to make sure this crucial component happens. And while you might be tempted to forego the post-event marketing, don’t do it. Follow-up is key. Make sure you’ve budgeted enough resources to ensure your ability to do this.

You’ll never anticipate every expense, so budgeting for a little overflow is always a smart move. If you go a little over-budget in one area, this padding will have you covered and you’ll know to consider that in planning for the next exhibition. Budget your time, your people, and your resources well and you’ll have the best shot at a successful trade show.