Alexis Exhibits

Tradeshows on a Shoestring Budget

Attending and exhibiting at a tradeshow can lead to excellent bottom-line benefits for your company: exposure to a highly targeted audience; opportunity to pitch your company’s marketing message; generation of sales leads; and the opportunity to learn more about your industry through panel discussion, speeches, and seminars.

The reality, though, is that in many companies, marketing budget dollars must be spent carefully and each expense may be scrutinized closely. No need to remove tradeshows completely from your marketing plan, however. Take a critical look at your tradeshow expenses and you might find some creative ways to carve some costs out of your overall tradeshow budget.

Here are a few areas where you might be able to cut costs:

Transportation. This can typically account for a significant portion of your tradeshow budget so it’s the first place you should look at to trim down on expenses. The biggest thing to keep in mind: plan early! Most companies will know six months to a year out that they are going to be exhibiting at a particular show, so plan ahead and make your airline reservations early. Airlines penalize last-minute business travelers with high-priced tickets. Fly everyone in the day before the show and fly them out the last day of the show to save on extra food and lodging costs.

Also, keep in mind other modes of transportation if the event isn’t that far away. Renting a van to take a large group of people or partner with another exhibitor in your area and charter a bus, which can significantly cut down on travel expenses.

Hotel. Typically larger conferences will offer attendees and exhibitors rooms at hotels within a close proximity to the event at a discounted rate. Take advantage of this savings. Booking an economy hotel farther away might seem like a smart strategy, but once you add up taxi fares, it might not make sense. Double up employees in each room to instantly cut hotel costs in half.

Also, if you’re attending multiple events throughout the year, look at hotel chains that offer special discounts for multiple hotel stays or those that offer special member programs that offer additional discounts, such as free nights after a certain amount of stays. Also, book at hotels that offer free breakfast. It might sound silly, but feeding a large group of people breakfast every day will add up to hundreds of dollars after a multi-day stay, and possibly bloat your budget.

Booth rentals. You can instantly shave hundreds off your budget by renting your tradeshow booth. This can be especially helpful for companies that want to exhibit but need to cut tradeshow costs in the short-term as well as for those companies that don’t attend shows frequently. Make sure you read your rental agreement carefully and understand the terms of it. Find out what accessories will come with the booth and what you’re responsible for bringing. Be creative and enhance your rental booth with banner stands, literature racks, lighting and other extras that can increase traffic to your booth.

Shipping. Exhibition halls often add significant costs to receiving and storing your freight and associated material for your company. Instead, ship things such as literature and giveaways directly to your hotel. Mark shipped boxes with a shipping label that reads, “Hold at front desk for (your name)’s arrival.” Hotels do not charge for accepting and holding shipments for guests.

Trade Show Strategies: 5 Ways to Cut Cost and Make a Big Impression

It’s just smart business to look for ways to get more from your trade show budget. Since your competitors are probably getting creative with their budget too, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of the situation with some out of the box thinking.

There are lots of ways to save money on your trade show budget – from managing travel and entertainment expenses to strategies for consolidating shipments to the show – but I’ll leave all of that to you. My focus is on ways to save money on your trade show booth without giving up any marketing impact. Here are a few tips on how your trade show booth can be high-impact for less money.

  1. Reduce transportation costs with a new lower-weight booth
    Trade show design has really changed in recent years. High energy and transportation costs pushed design houses to rethink their approaches. New booths are constructed from light-weight, high strength materials, are less expensive to ship and also have a sleeker, more contemporary look.
  2. Design for easy assembly
    As designers began to work with new materials and modular components, hard-to-assemble booths built with rigid infill panels and wooden construction have gone the way of the dinosaur. Find a design firm with a proven track record of creating booths that have big graphic impact but do not require a cast of thousands to set up.
  3. Rent – don’t buy
    Many large trade show design firms rent trade show components and booths. If your company only has one or two trade show events each year, or you need to get a larger booth just for one annual trade show, renting can be a great option.
  4. Buy a Used Trade Show Booth and Accessories
    Some companies trade in or sell off trade show displays frequently in order to update their display to match their latest ad campaign. A smart buyer can pick up a like-new display for a fraction of the original price. If you take this route, be sure to buy from a provider who refurbishes and customizes displays.
  5. Update your current Trade Show Display
    If your company already has trade show booths, take an objective look to see if they can be updated to fit your current needs for an affordable price. Be careful about investing in an outdated booth that is very costly to transport, assemble and operate because it can represent a false savings. However, sometimes the most cost-effective path is to update graphics, fabric and add new components to an existing booth.

If you’re ready to save money on your trade show budget, Let’s Talk.

Chasing Tradeshow Cost Savings?

Many exhibitors are being forced to find ways to reduce the cost of participation in tradeshows. The most common way this task is approached is to look at each cost line item and see what can be done to save money.

The common first step is to contract for a smaller booth space. This not only saves on the cost of the space rental but also provides an across-the-board cost reduction. The downside of such a reduction? You may have to settle for a less than desirable booth location and you’ll also need to make sure your display properties will fit in the smaller format.

After booth space, the likely second step is to look at each cost category for the show and try to determine which costs can be reduced. This is a very time-consuming process, and usually entails trying to find out how much your exhibit weighs and how long it should take to set up. This information is not always easy to get your hands on, and when you do, there are always a slew of variables that can affect the final cost of the show.

In my opinion, however, the best first step to take is to contact your exhibit supplier (assuming they store and manage your display) and lay your cards on the table. Explain to them that you have been asked to cut 25% off the cost of last year’s show. Ask them to provide recommendations. Remember, they do this for a living! They are not likely to be overly excited about this mission, but they should support you through good times and bad.
If they can’t or won’t provide you with some good ideas, you should probably consider finding another supplier.

Thinking about changing exhibit companies? Let’s Talk.

Ten Tips for Better Trade Show Exhibits

Trade shows can be one of the most cost-effective ways for your company to reach qualified prospects. And with a little bit of planning you can dramatically improve your results.

  1. Start planning as soon as you know you will be attending the show. Make your booth space reservation as far in advance as possible so you can select the best location and size.
  2. The majority of trade show attendees plan their trade show exhibit visits before the show. 75% of buyers arrive with pre-set purchasing objectives. A pre-show marketing campaign is essential to making the most of your trade show exhibit investment.
  3. Most trade shows are covered by local and industry media. Before the show, invite local media contacts to visit your booth. Find out if there will be any trade press at the show and set up a time to meet.
  4. Promote the shows your company will be exhibiting at and your booth location on your company website, Twitter and Facebook pages.
  5. Avoid printing anything at the trade show or at a hotel business center. Ship copies from your office or a printer to the show.
  6. Put together a comprehensive inventory list before you ship your exhibit. This will make check in and out-bound shipping more efficient, and better ensure that any missing items are identified rapidly.
  7. Bring more sales collateral and business cards than you think you could possibly need. You cannot afford to run out and it is inexpensive to ship it back to your office.
  8. Bring backup copies of all multimedia presentations on CDs just in case you have an issue with your laptop. You can also store copies of presentations online so that you can access them and download if needed.
  9. Organize your trade show leads in the downtime during the show and start to follow-up even before you leave the exhibit floor. Send the contact information for prospects to your office from the show and have someone send out requested collateral material to these prospects so it is waiting for them when they return to their office.
  10. Put together a trade show exhibit emergency kit: packing tape, scissors, pens, epoxy putty, a small trash can, power strips, extension cords, USB flash drives, cutting tools, and a tool kit. Add in anything that you might need for small emergency booth repairs and replacement parts for anything that can wear out or burn out like light bulbs.

Trade show exhibits are a big investment. Just a little bit of planning and a few tips from the pros, and you are well on the way to having a less stressful and more successful trade show exhibit.

Trade Show Tips – How to Do More with Less

A reality of the past years of recession is that companies across all industries have had to tighten their belts when it comes to marketing initiatives. One of the biggest and most costly pieces of the marketing pie is trade show exhibition. Marketers and exhibit managers are then faced with a challenge. cutdollarsHow do they increase sales and bottom-line revenue without the resources to amp up their marketing efforts?

Borne out of necessity and a lack of monetary influx into their existing budgets, many marketers and exhibit managers have found creative ways to do just that. And, it’s no magic trick. Simple cost cutting measures that help shift resources and reallocate money into areas of your company’s marketing efforts that can deliver the most benefits and payoff during economic downturns, such as trade shows.

Here are a few ways you can cut money out of your exhibit budget:

Buy, don’t rent. Renting accessories, equipment and individual components (display racks, folding chairs and tables, etc.) from an exhibit hall or show- appointed vendors adds significant expense to your overall exhibition budget. Save big bucks by shipping these items from your home office or storage warehouse. Even with shipping and drayage costs, you’ll still come out ahead for most items. This logic applies to your actual booth itself; if you exhibit at multiple shows per year, but don’t rent.

Cut travel expenses. Hotel costs for traveling staff members can very quickly add up and bloat your trade show budget. Learn to negotiate with hotels to get the best deals; also, bigger shows typically negotiate with local hotels to offer special “show” rates for exhibitors and attendees. Join hotel chains’ customer loyalty programs to get other free bonuses, such as free stays after a certain number of stays. Double up employees of the same sex in one room and look for hotels that offer free breakfast.

Lighten your load. Reduce your shipping and drayage costs by taking a close look at what you’ll really need on-site and in your booth. Focus on one product to highlight; don’t bring every product in your line. An overcrowded booth is a turnoff for attendees and makes it more difficult for visitors to focus on the one product you’re announcing or launching at the show. You might also be able to trim some off your drayage costs by shipping some things, such as brochures and other collateral material, directly to your hotel.

Order show services carefully. This is kind of like the hotel mini-bar. Seems so convenient, but when you check out and see that you shelled out $7.50 for that can of pretzels, you might think otherwise. Order the necessities (electricity, lighting, booth cleaning, etc.) by the earliest deadline and you might be eligible for a discount. Determine the actual wattage needs of your equipment and make sure that you don’t order more than you need and bring your own electrical power strips.

Want to see how we can help you take advantage of these cost-saving tips and more? We’ll do it right for you – Let’s Talk.

Ways to Slash Trade Show Costs

Trade shows are excellent forums to showcase new products and reach customers and prospects with your marketing message, but they are expensive. Cutting trade shows out of your marketing budget entirely, however, is pound-wise and penny foolish. cut-trade-show-costsLet’s take a look at some ways you can shave costs out of your trade show budget without sacrificing the impact of your exhibit.

Rent instead of own. Some companies get weighed down by the expense of owning their own exhibits; not just the initial expense but the costs associated with storing, shipping, prepping, maintaining, as well material handling expenses once it has been received at the show site.

Bring your own supplies. Renting supplies at a trade show can put a serious crimp in efforts to reduce costs. Though it might seem more cost-efficient to avoid the costs of shipping things such as tables, carpet, chairs, etc., the reality is that you can save by shipping and reusing your own.

Leverage tradeshow materials for other uses. Banners or posters used at trade shows make great visual advertisements in the front window of retail stores. Brochures not given out at shows can double for customer/prospect mailings.

Get handy. One way to save big is to bring your own tools and put your booth staff to work setting up everything that’s not mandated by trade show labor rules.

Negotiate booth rent. Exhibition companies have been hit pretty hard by the recession. What’s bad news for them could be good news for exhibitors. If you’ve exhibited at the same trade show for years, try and renegotiate your booth rent with the tradeshow organizer. Agreeing to sign a multi-year contract might help hasten a deal as organizers are looking to keep you as a long-term exhibitor.

Go smaller. Booth rent accounts for approximately 20% of your total trade show costs, so reducing the size of your booth can have an immediate and big impact on your bottom line.

Ship early. If you are shipping your exhibit or supplies to a show, be sure and plan to ship well ahead of time so you can send all items in the slowest, least expensive way possible. Also, check out whether you can ship some items locally instead of from your location.