Four Simple Ways to Cut Your Trade Show Marketing Budget in Half


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Many times when a trade show is planned for there isn’t someone who watches the budget and tracks where the money goes. But, if you do want to know where your trade show marketing dollar goes and want to do better, this article is for you.

You should track each expense and when you show is over hold a quick review to discover how much you spent. You might be surprised at how things add up.

Here are four simple ways to make your trade show marketing budget count. If you can reduce your show spending a losing show might suddenly be worthwhile.

1. Track your deadlines and discounts.

Look at your show agreement and see where you get discounts for making early commitments. A better way to look at this is the premium you pay for not being well planned. You’ll see a deadline and a price before the date and an increased price after the date. You’ll see yet a higher premium for getting a service on the day of the show.

Keep good records of the discount deadlines and don’t’ miss any. That will ensure you minimize your surcharges.

Keep special track of your shipping costs and ensure you have time to ship ground and still make your setup deadline.

Good planning will really be worth your while and can save you easily 25%

2. Review your booth size.

As your company grows its trade show strategy you may be tempted to move up to a larger booth. You may even be tempted to take the show discount (see point number 1) and take a bigger space next year. Event managers will encourage you to do this but beware!

Take a look at your show results. Then consider what happens if you had two times more space. Would you get twice the traffic to the booth? Would there two times as many qualified prospects than if you had a 10 x 10 space? If the bigger booth doesn’t deliver a bigger result, you could skip the expense and focus on the marketing program instead.

3. Be ruthless on your giveaway budget.

Show giveaways can really eat up a show budget is short order. Often you will be focused on the item selection and not the role the item plays in your sales process.

Consider the difference in cost between a thousand items you give freely to people passing by your booth and the cost of an item given to your top one hundred prospects.

By focusing in on giving quality to your prospects your will remove the risk of overspending on your giveaway budget.

Make it pay.

4. Skip the expensive brochure or handout.

One common error is to simply bring along a large quantity of your current color brochure stock. There will be no loss of people willing to take a $4.00 brochure from your hand as they walk by.

You see, they are being polite. What happens if you meet a thousand polite people?

Keep your corporate brochure at home and work with a small product brochure or a custom postcard with a show special and a reason for them to keep it after the show. (Custom access to a website or a product discount works pretty well)

You’ll spend less and get better results.

Bonus tip. Review your shows.

If you attend more than one show in a year, list your shows, (with your results) and look really hard at the lowest performer.

It’s possible that the show may not be as relevant but you stay in regardless. If you are not getting the results from the show, you can let it go. You’re not giving anything up.

Spend your time to replace this show with another, more targeted, higher performing show or just use this trade show marketing money on another marketing project.

None of these concepts are revolutionary or will change the face of trade show marketing. You will however do better by demanding a better accounting of your trade show dollar.

Mitch Tarr is a Vancouver BC based trade show consultant who helps companies focus on getting more leads and better sales from trade show marketing programs.

Go to to sign up for a FREE Report on the SIX Big Trade Show Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.


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