Bud­get­ing for Tradeshows and Events

Enterprise - - Contents -

At first glance, tradeshows can seem like an ex­pen­sive mar­ket­ing en­deavor. From cre­at­ing your ex­hi­bi­tion to man­ag­ing the lo­gis­tics of the event, even medium-sized tradeshows can mean thou­sands in ex­penses.

Like any form of mar­ket­ing, how­ever, tradeshow ex­penses shouldn’t be thought of as costs, but as an in­vest­ment: With the right ex­hibit and the right team, the ROI of a tradeshow can beat the ROI any other form of mar­ket­ing.

Es­sen­tial Costs of Ex­hibit­ing

Many tradeshow ex­penses are un­avoid­able. Whether you’re ex­hibit­ing at a small in­dus­try event or a mas­sive con­ven­tion, you’ll need to pay for the floor space your ex­hibit uses, the ex­hibit it­self, and your mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als.

The cost of rent­ing floor space and cre­at­ing your ex­hibit will take up ap­prox­i­mately 40% of your bud­get, ac­cord­ing to the Tradeshow In­sti­tute. That fig­ure makes the cost of your ex­hibit a good bench­mark for es­tab­lish­ing your tradeshow bud­get.

On av­er­age, 28% of the to­tal bud­get is spent on rent­ing floor space, and 12% is spent on de­sign­ing an ex­hibit. The cost of floor space varies based on the event and the space’s lo­ca­tion within the event.

Floor space costs are high per square foot, on av­er­age, although that num­ber will vary based on the event. You can of­ten rent floor space at a dis­count by pay­ing months in ad­vance. Call the event or­ga­nizer to ask about an ‘early bird’ dis­count.

The cost of out­fit­ting your tradeshow ex­hibit can also vary mas­sively based on your needs and whether you’re build­ing a booth to be used at mul­ti­ple shows or rent­ing a stand for just one ex­hi­bi­tion.

As a gen­eral rule, you should al­lo­cate about half as much of your floor space bud­get to de­vel­op­ing your ex­hi­bi­tion stand, ban­ners, and event fur­ni­ture. For an ex­hi­bi­tion that re­ally at­tracts at­ten­tion, you may want to in­crease your bud­get.

Travel and En­ter­tain­ment Costs

The sec­ond largest set of costs for tradeshow ex­hibitors is travel, ac­com­mo­da­tion, and on-lo­ca­tion en­ter­tain­ment. From ho­tel rooms to din­ners with prospects and cus­tomers, the costs of fully tak­ing part in a tradeshow can quickly add up.

On av­er­age, about 21% of tradeshow bud­get is spent on ac­com­mo­da­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Tradeshow In­sti­tute. Of course, that amount varies based on the tradeshow’s lo­ca­tion: Shows lo­cated close to your business will cost far less to travel to.

Is your business a grow­ing startup on a tight bud­get? Save money on travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion by book­ing as early as pos­si­ble, stay­ing in apart­ments booked on AirBnB.com in­stead of ho­tel rooms, and

car­pool­ing to tradeshows that are lo­cal.

The fi­nal fac­tor in this seg­ment of tradeshow ex­penses is en­ter­tain­ment. Many of the world’s largest tradeshows have a cul­ture of post-event din­ners, par­ties, and other net­work­ing events; aside from be­ing great fun, they pro­vide great op­por­tu­ni­ties to net­work with in­flu­encers and prospec­tive clients and cus­tomers.

If you think a par­tic­u­lar tradeshow has the po­ten­tial to help your business meet in­dus­try in­flu­encers, me­dia in­sid­ers, or sources of fund­ing, don’t be afraid to give your sales team an event bud­get for din­ners and drinks with business prospects.

Are you us­ing your next tradeshow as an op­por­tu­nity to meet peo­ple who could help your business grow? YFS Mag­a­zine has a great tradeshow net­work­ing guide for young pro­fes­sion­als and sales reps for help­ing close deals after the show ends.

Lo­gis­ti­cal and Prac­ti­cal Costs

Un­less your next tradeshow is lo­cated close to your place of business, you’ll need more than a mov­ing trailer to get your ex­hibit to the right lo­ca­tion. The greater the dis­tance to your tradeshow, the larger your lo­gis­ti­cal bud­get needs to be.

Most tradeshow ex­hibitors spend around 9% of their bud­get on trans­port­ing their ex­hibit to and from their lat­est tradeshow, ac­cord­ing to the Tradeshow In­sti­tute. Like all ex­penses, of course, trans­port costs can vary to a huge ex­tent.

Is your ex­hibit com­pli­cated, del­i­cate, and valu­able? If so, the cost of in­sur­ing your ban­ners, pro­mo­tional sig­nag,e and other items can in­crease your trans­porta­tion-re­lated costs. Events in far­away ci­ties also ob­vi­ously in­cur greater trans­port costs than those nearby.

Be­cause the costs of ex­hibit­ing at a tradeshow far from your place of business can be quite high, it’s of­ten best to start with a lo­cal tradeshow.

Lo­gis­tics ex­penses don’t stop once you reach the tradeshow venue. Re­mem­ber to bud­get for tradeshow ser­vices such as light­ing, car­pet rental, se­cu­rity badges, high-speed In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity, and elec­tri­cal wiring if your ex­hi­bi­tion re­quires them.

The cost of ser­vices on the day of the tradeshow can vary hugely based on your ex­hibit’s re­quire­ments and the event it­self. You should al­ways check the cost of those ser­vices with the event or­ga­nizer, but it’s best to set aside a min­i­mum of 10% of your bud­get for on-the-day lo­gis­ti­cal and in­fra­struc­ture ex­penses.

Pro­mo­tional and Sales Costs

Do you have thou­sands of brochures to give away? In­ter­ac­tive dis­plays for prospects to use? Branded gifts, ac­ces­sories, and business cards? Pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial can add a sig­nif­i­cant amount to your to­tal tradeshow bud­get, es­pe­cially if it’s unique.

Just as with the other ex­penses as­so­ci­ated with tradeshows, it’s best not to think of the pro­mo­tional items you give away as costs, but as in­vest­ments. An ef­fec­tive brochure or dis­count coupon can de­liver a large re­turn on in­vest­ment for your business.

In ad­di­tion to the cost of pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als, you need to keep in mid two sales costs when ex­hibit­ing at a tradeshow: the com­mis­sion paid to your sales reps, and the op­por­tu­nity cost of the show it­self (the cost of pos­si­ble business that you miss out on by spend­ing time away from the of­fice).

How Much Should You Bud­get for Your First Tradeshow?

From floor space to ex­hibit de­sign, lo­gis­tics to ac­com­mo­da­tion, the var­i­ous costs of a tradeshow can add up.

Just like any other form of mar­ket­ing, tradeshows are all about achiev­ing the right re­turn on in­vest­ment.

Beyond the great re­turn on in­vest­ment that tradeshows can make pos­si­ble, there’s also the pos­si­bil­ity to op­ti­mize your spend­ing over time. As you ex­hibit at a greater num­ber of shows, you’ll be­gin to dis­cover ways to re­duce cer­tain parts of your tradeshow bud­get and in­crease oth­ers to achieve an even bet­ter re­turn on in­vest­ment.

Is your business ready to ex­hibit at a tradeshow? If you want to gen­er­ate valu­able sales leads and in­crease your brand recog­ni­tion with the right au­di­ence, ex­hibit­ing at a tradeshow might be the best decision your business makes.

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