10 practical ways to save money and extend your show budget

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Posted by , 5th June 2018

10 ways to save money and extend your trade show budget. Ideas and advice from Exhibitors Only

More shows mean more sales

Some people say that exhibiting is expensive. You hear it often when talking to exhibitors.

It’s not just the cost of the stand space or the stand. Ancillary costs for electrics and wifi also play their part in taking chunks out of a show budget.

We would do more shows if we had the money..

Yes, that’s a refrain I’ve heard many times and sometimes well, I actually believe it.

But, it’s a bit of a defeatist comment. If you really wanted to, you probably could find some extra funds from somewhere. It’s just that you might have to get to be a bit creative in order to find them.

So, how can you exhibit when you have little money in your budget?

When you want to be out there doing more shows so that you can generate more new sales, why let a little thing like little or no money get in the way?

OK, maybe no money is a problem but a little money is something that we can work with.

Here are some ideas for you to consider and start using.

1. Rent a smaller space than usual – small can be beautiful

What’s the most important part about exhibiting? Actually being there. In other words, actually exhibiting.

If you are torn between not exhibiting because you can’t afford to take your usual stand size and actually going to a show but on a much smaller unit, swallow your pride and book a space. Otherwise, your stand size hangup may cost you sales, revenue towards your bonus. Perhaps even promotion!

You can exhibit very successfully on a small space. Just bring the same organising attention to this stand as you would any other.

2. Rent a very small space and use a pop-up display

So you can afford a small space but what about the stand? Bring a pop-up display with strong, clear graphics. The cost for this option is the low hundreds of ££’s. Not all organisers will allow you to do this (some may insist that you have a shell scheme stand to put your pop-up into). But many will.

3. Rent a very small space and just have a desk and pull-up banner

There are whole shows (see TechDay) where this is the standard display model – it’s a great way to encourage lower-cost exhibiting. Again, not all organisers will allow this without shell scheme being included. But do ask as having an extra exhibitor if they match the profile of the event, is better than not having an exhibitor in the show.

Enhance your display by adding a digital screen if your budget will stretch or bring your own screen if you have one.

4. Share a stand with a friendly company or another division of your own business 

When you don’t have much money, you need to be creative. Who could you share a stand with? Is there an exhibitor that works in an allied field to yours who would be willing to defray some of their costs in exchange for giving up part of their space? What other costs could you help each other with?

Or, if you work in a big business is there another division you could partner with?

5. Rent your display equipment rather than buy it 

You can rent stand structures, furniture, lighting rigs. You don’t have to buy these items each time you exhibit. If your company exhibits infrequently, renting is going to be less costly than creating a custom built option. If you exhibit 2-3 times per year, you still might want to rent the structure and pay a one-off cost for graphics which can be used at all of the events. This will save you money on storage costs between events.

10 ways to save money and extend your trade show budget: Advice and ideas from Exhibitors Only

A bright and attractive shell scheme stand (slightly modified) used by Hasbro at Toy Fair

6. Rent a shell scheme stand instead of commissioning a custom build stand 

Shell scheme offers a much lower cost entry into exhibiting plus it’s great when you are testing out new events and new markets. And with a little extra care and cash you can make a shell scheme really pop-out to visitors.

7.With a bigger stand space go floorspace only with minimal construction

Depending on what your company does, you could consider exhibiting on a space only site using minimal stand construction. This is typically how car companies display because the cars are the exhibits. Could you borrow some of this thinking and apply it to your business?

Bear in mind that if you are exhibiting behind another space only stand, it will be up to you to ensure that your neighbours back wall is decorated. Liaise with your neighbouring stand via the organiser of the show before the event so that you can organise something to cover your neighbours back wall.

10 ways to save money and extend your trade show budget: Advice and ideas from Exhibitors Only
8. Park a display vehicle and use that as your stand

This is an extension of idea No. 7. It doesn’t have to be purpose-built or adapted for shows like the school bus above used at bett. Got some nice cars in your business? Why not get them valeted and then wrapped in graphics that promote a competition, an offer and your business. Use the boot space to hold an exhibit or a digital screen display. 

9. Bring your own stand furniture

Another way to cut exhibit costs is to invest in your own stand furniture. This will save you money by reducing or removing furniture hire costs each time you exhibit. This will only be worthwhile if you do multiple events each year. And you will have to allow for transporting the furniture to site. Do the sums and see if the savings made would stack up (no pun intended) favourably enough for you to invest.

10. Do your own stand cleaning

Not all shows offer stand cleaning as part of their exhibiting package. To save money on stand cleaning fees and to keep your stand looking good throughout a show, invest in a carpet sweeper and perhaps some furniture spray and screen cleaning wipes. Stand cleaning in most venues consists only of vacuuming your carpet, so it’s always a good idea to pack some basic cleaning supplies of your own.

We will publish 10 more budget saving and stretching tips very soon. Meantime, it would be great to include some of your canny tips too. Add them and share them in the comments section below.

Posted in Stand Management  /  Trade show budgets  /  Trade show marketing  /  Trade show sales

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