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Trade Show Budget 101

September 25, 2018

First-time Exhibitors!

Thinking about expanding your marketing program into trade shows? One of the best avenues for marketing is face-to-face interaction to build brand awareness and credibility in your product or service. Trade shows are also an efficient and cost-saving alternative to traditional marketing.

Tradeshow planning hinges on making a good budget and planning accordingly with your costs in mind. Here are some key points to remember when planning a budget for a trade show.

Booth Size Expenses

Review booth space costs and needs of a booth to determine the tradeshow budget. The booth space typically eats most of the budget. The budget needs to be carefully developed so that you can get the most out of your space. Look at the show floor plan and select a booth size that fits those needs and objectives. Research industry standards for budget parameters for building a show booth.

According to the Center for Ind Research here are the most recent guidelines for ballpark budget estimates. Expect approximately $150-175* per square foot. For example, to purchase a 20x20 booth space would cost approximately $ 60K* – 70K*. However, rental may be a great way to enhance the look of your booth and reduce your overall costs. This could shave your budget by 1/3 of the costs.

Booth Features and Additional Expenses

Create a list of needs for important elements of your space. Do you need demo space?  Will you display AV / Monitors / or need private meeting areas, storage, other display elements? From there, the exhibit/graphics/ build will have 2nd higher elements. Consider the additional marketing needs as well such as banners, business cards, giveaways, any additional touches to make your booth fun for people to visit and create an impression.

Additionally, factor the size of your booth against additional costs such as hiring professional in install & dismantle personnel in case you have rigging for hanging signage, drayage (Material handling fees).  Freight charges, and all other show services:  cleaning, porter service, carpet, electrical, all add up to additional expenses too. Plan to have a slush fund built in as well.  It is very common for unexpected things to happen on the show floor.  For example – items that don’t arrive on time, and arrive late.  This pushes your install crew into overtime or a weekend.

Freight pick-up schedules that don’t happen and your freight gets bumped to the show contractors’ warehouse – fees compile daily until those items are confirmed to be released. Again, the expenses are somewhat out of your control, but always a good idea to have that amount already built into the budget for that reason.

Budgeting Favors the Prepared Exhibitor

Budgeting appropriately will save you and your trade show vendor time in creating a powerful marketing tool that will enhance your product and service and make an impact on the show floor. That return on investment could be lucrative in the long run by fostering a strong network of people you connect with during the show.

Trade how exhibit
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