A long-standing staple in the business community, trade shows wield an unquestionable amount of power even today. In the cut-throat and constantly shifting marketing landscape, tradeshows have maintained their reputation as a bona fide means to meet prospective clients, showcase your products, engage in relationship building and gauge the pulse of the overall market. Here’s proof: Exhibitors find 99% unique value in trade shows that other marketing platforms cannot deliver. (source: Spingo).
Often times, however, exhibitors, in the desperate bid to outperform their competitors and grab eyeballs, end up spending far more extravagantly than is required only to find themselves debating whether the whole endeavor was ultimately worth it in the first place.
Here’s the deal. Exhibiting at trade shows is non-negotiable, given the amazing opportunities they present for lead conversion and client acquisition. The key is to understand how you can extract the greatest value from trade shows while keeping your costs to a minimum. Yes, that’s very much possible and we have it all laid out for you.
Here are some cost-effective tips to improve your tradeshow game
Planning makes perfect
There’s no such thing as enough planning! Often times, exhibitors dive blindly into trade shows, without understanding what they’re hoping to gain from it or how they even plan to go about it. Such a haphazard approach leads to an underwhelming performance that also ends up costing far more than they’d anticipated. So start with a plan and don’t rest until you’ve addressed everything!
Here are a few things to consider during the preliminary stages of planning:
- Be clear about your objectives. What is your motivation behind participating in the tradeshow? Is your sole object to get new clients on board? Are you more focused on relationship-building? Are you there just to keep an eye on your competitors?
- Next, set down a budget in tandem with the goals you’ve underlined. Drafting a comprehensive budget during the planning stage is essential if you want to minimize costs without compromising on the quality of your strategy. Make the budget, leave some room for a wee bit of leeway, and then stick to it. This will keep your spending in check, allowing you to spend wisely- in the right places for the right things.
- Now get down to working on your plan of action.
Such a methodical and organized style of preparation won’t only allow you greater control over your performance, but will inherently increase your booth’s value and efficacy in converting leads.
Another oft-overlooked plus point of pre-event planning is that once you’ve got the budgeting out of the way well in advance, you can book your booth early, and cash in on early bird discounts. More importantly, early booking often grants the exhibitor the privilege of first come first serve, securing them the most optimal location and spaces in the arena and consequently enhancing their visibility for visitors.
Fancy isn’t Always Pricey
Invariably, exhibitors, in an attempt to make their booth striking end up spending a disproportionate amount on display and design. The truth is, you don’t have to invest in state of the art equipment to turn heads. You can do a great deal of cost-saving while at the same time retaining or even improving your performance.
Opt for lighter materials to slash some of your shipping costs. Using fabric displays instead of heavy signage is a popular cost-cutting measure. Ditch the heavy, expensive furniture for portable spaces such as pop-up displays. It’s also better to invest in digital graphics than using print material. The fact that they can be altered and reused makes them a more cost friendly option.
But will cost-friendly options diminish the appeal of your booth?
Not at all! Working around a cost-friendly budget means getting uber creative with the resources at your disposal. Playing around with props, and creating something unusual out of them easily does the trick.
Here’s an idea to get you started: You can keep a small booth presence on the floor, using it merely as a means for directing visitors to a more personalized and richer setting- a meeting room, a hall, or any attractive space nearby. Such an approach can save precious resources such as labor, hardware and other costs associated with having a booth. At the same time, this approach promises to be more engaging and can initiate a more interactive dialogue. Companies that have given this unconventional method a shot have reported excellent results; not only were they able to cut down their costs, they also got the change to meaningfully engage with the visitors away from the ruckus of trade shows.
To ensure an impressive turnout, promoting your booth is essential. No matter how great your product or how masterful your booth’s execution, none of it would matter if people don’t know about it. Interestingly, 70% of the attendees decide in advance whom to visit before reaching the event space. This goes to show just how important the power of prior promotions can be. You don’t need to invest in expensive promotional paraphernalia if you’ve already done ample pre-event promotions. Email the registered attendees and inform them about your event, emphasizing the value of your product stimulate their curiosity. Also, make personal calls to your existing clients.
Additionally, employ social media to generate some buzz about your event within the relevant sections. The efficacy of such channels is great, and they are a much cost-friendlier option than expensive promotional material and invitation letters.
The Dawn of the Virtual
While trade shows are still going strong, there is no denying that they’re adapting to the spirit of changing times. Virtual events have announced their arrival in style and have slowly been gaining steam. In fact, the virtual event market will grow from $14 Bln in 2018 to $18 Bln in 2023. While physical trade shows have numerous advantages, they can also be incredibly costly to execute, especially for small and medium companies. The nuisance of an event exploding with visitors, tediously threading through the cramped space and flustered by the seemingly endless booths around them can be frustrating, to say the least.
Virtual trade shows, on the other hand, offer a sensational alternative. The greatest benefit of having a virtual tradeshow is the major cost-cutting you can do by eliminating shipping, transportation, service, material and space costs. With cutting-edge technology and advanced features, virtual trade shows appear fascinatingly real, serving not just the same benefits and features as physical trade shows but going even a step further.
A wealth of appealing options is available to an exhibitor. They can customize their virtual booth, and supplement them with images, videos, documents, and brochures. To ensure the session is interactive, they can integrate webinars, speeches, and chats into their booth which can be vital for lead conversion. A virtual trade show serves the added benefit of reaching out to global leads. Visitors also have the option of making online payments and transactions. Once the event is over, exhibitors can access detailed reports that track the number of visitors, purchases to generate important insights about their ROI.
Virtual Fairs are increasingly gaining popularity, as more and more companies have been inclined to give them a shot and the results have been highly promising. They maximize the benefits of physical trade shows while at the same time minimizing their challenges and costs. No doubt, they’re not just here to stay, but are arguably set to dominate the future!
Clearly, adopting a cost-friendly route for tradeshows is very much possible. All you need to do is get inventive with limited resources and be open to the vast opportunities that the digital realm has in store for you. Careful planning and judicious strategizing can save you plenty of bucks while at the same time optimizing your tradeshow turnout. The best things in life aren’t always free, but they can definitely come with a friendly price tag!
executive team in the conference room