If you are new to the trade show circuit or if you have decided you need to scale back on your budget, you could be experiencing some difficulties. Trade shows are notoriously expensive affairs, and you probably go to multiple every year. Growing your business shouldn't break the bank, though. Here are a few ways to stretch your money and attend many trade shows on a budget.
Rent Instead of Buying
When you are looking at the price of displays, trucks, and other items that you need to run your trade show appearances, rent as often as you can. Renting is dead money in the sense that you will not get any return on investment, and you’ll also likely end up racking up higher expenses if you rent instead of buying, but you can disperse those costs. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on one piece of equipment all at one time, you can rent it for a few hundred dollars. That will not save you much money in the long run but it will keep you afloat until you can grow your business large enough to sustain buying these items.
Lightweight Promotional Materials
Freighting is one of the biggest expenses for a trade show. You have to pay someone to pick up and deliver your items to a range of locations. They will often charge by weight; that’s especially true if you're freighting by land or air. Freighting by weight means that heavier items will end up costing you a lot more, so if you rely on lightweight materials, you can save a lot of money.
Scale Back the Free Gifts
It is obviously a great marketing strategy to give away free gifts; they entice prospects to come over to your booth, and they provide you with promotional materials that guests will take away. However, they can be incredibly expensive for you. Not every customer prospect needs a free gift if you can help it.
You can also bifurcate the free gifts. You could offer the more expensive gifts to prospects who commit to buying or who sign up for your mailing list, for example. For the average passersby, you could offer something simpler such as pens or notepads.
Cookies and Coffee
The objective of offering free gifts is to entice prospects to come over to your station, however, you can do that at a much lower cost by offering refreshments. The convention halls are typically very large, and walking around them for hours can get tiring. You can often bring prospects your way by offering them bottled water, coffee, and cookies. The smell of coffee and cookies is often enough to bring someone to your station. Interestingly, even people who don’t drink coffee tend to express an affinity for the sound and smell of brewing coffee.
Share Your Booth
Lastly, you can save money by offering to share your booth space with a complementary local company. For example, a coffee company might share their space with a coffee filter producer or a teeth whitening operation.