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Trade Show Marketing 101: 7 Smart Ways To Cut Costs

June 30, 2015

Trade show costs can easily spiral out of control. If you are not keeping an eye on your budget and closely tracking expenses, expect to spend a lot more money than you planned.
That is a common problem for exhibitors who struggle to squeeze a positive ROI from event marketing. Their limited cash flow leaks from a hundred small holes. Plugging those holes can help turn an unprofitable show into a major success.
The key is to cut back in the right places. Here is a good rule to follow: do not aggressively prune areas that have direct exposure to attendees. If your brochures are worn and tattered, invest in a new batch. If your graphics are dated, spend money to have new ones designed. Your belt-tightening measures should have zero effect on how attendees perceive your brand.
Want to know where to start trimming the fat? Here are 7 simple ways to reduce your event marketing costs.
#1 – Take Advantage Of Bulk Discounts
If you intend to give away a large volume of promotional items, buy them at one time. The vendor should offer you a discount for the bulk purchase. Depending on the size of your order, you may be able to nail down a discount of 20% or more.
Do not just consider the items you will hand out at your next event. Think about all of the shows you will attend as an exhibitor throughout the year.
#2 – Compare Quotes From Multiple Vendors
If you are a long-time exhibitor, you probably have a short list of vendors you prefer to work with. Maybe you have worked with them for years and feel a sense of loyalty. Perhaps you trust their ability to deliver on time. Or maybe you have just grown comfortable with giving them your business.
The downside to sticking with the same vendors is that you lose track of whether their prices are truly competitive. Bottom line: you may be paying a lot more than necessary.
Solicit bids from multiple vendors. Do not be surprised if you are quoted prices that are well below what you are currently paying.
#3 – Trim Your Booth Staff
Ask yourself whether you really need to bring 20 of your staffers to the next show. You might only need half that many to work your trade show display rentals. Remember, every additional person you bring translates into higher hotel bills, food expenses and per diems.
Do not be afraid to trim your booth staff. Just make sure the people you bring are productive and that you have enough coverage throughout the event.
#4 – Create Graphics That Can Be Used More Than Once
It is tempting to design graphics that reflect the event you are working. For example, if you plan to exhibit at the upcoming CES convention, your booth might carry messaging specific to that show. The problem is, graphics with event-specific messages can only be used once. You will have to spend money on a new set of graphics for your next event.
Conserve your cash by designing graphics that can be used over and over. Limit them to your company name, logo, tagline and maybe a high-res image.
#5 – Collaborate With Other Departments
If your organization has multiple departments that are planning to exhibit at the next event, consider joining forces with them. Rather than each department having separate trade show display rentals, invest in a single exhibit that consolidates your company's brand. Doing so will make a lasting impression on attendees.
#6 – Be A Minimalist
Storing materials imposes a cost. The more you store, the more you pay.
A lot of companies store every exhibiting-related item they have ever owned. They are afraid to get rid of them. Sometimes, that tendency is borne out of a fear that they will need a certain component at some point in the future. Other times, it is just “out of sight, out of mind.” It is often easier to put everything into storage than to figure out what can be safely discarded.
You can save a lot of money by being a minimalist. If you have not used certain trade show materials in awhile, get rid of them. Throw them out, donate them or sell them to other exhibitors.
#7 – Consider Trade Show Display Rentals
One of the easiest ways to protect your trade show budget is to rent an exhibit rather than buy one. Doing so slashes your storage costs, reduces your maintenance expenses and gives you more flexibility in regard to your design. And of course, the upfront cost is much lower.
To recap, there are many ways to cut your exhibiting costs without harming your brand or sacrificing the quality and appearance of your booth. The seven ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg. By trimming back in select areas, you will have more cash available to spend where it will generate the highest return.
Skyline Canada is a full-service trade show services provider. We offer a wide range of engaging and affordable exhibit systems, including trade show display rentals that can accommodate your budget. Contact one of our experienced specialists to learn how we can make your next show a success.

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