Save Money Exhibiting at A Trade Show

Save Money Exhibiting at A Trade Show

10 Ways to Save Money Exhibiting at A Trade Show

Do you want to save money exhibiting at a trade show – and still stand out among the sea of endless tables?

Of course, you do – and you can! All it takes is a little creativity.

When you go to the grocery store, you want to save money right? We all do! So you do what everyone else does. You compare prices, think about your purchase and even make a list, but that does not mean you are going to buy the cheapest product simply because it is inexpensive. When you do that, you just get crappy products no one will eat.  No. What you do is compare the value of the product to its cost.

The same is true when you try to save money at your next trade show.

You can’t simply base your purchasing decisions on price alone. You have to compare the value of what you are getting for the price you pay. And this may mean you need to invest a little more in your branding, your giveaways and in the location of your booth (high traffic areas).

I understand, really, I do. Saving money is crucial when you participate in your first trade show.  We have all been here before. Still, you need to be careful when crunching the numbers as decisions based on price alone may mean a sacrifice in success (targeted leads, more sales). Having said that, as an experienced trade show attendee, I do have a few ideas that can save you a ton of money at your next trade show.

1. Begin Long Before The Trade Show Starts

One effective way to save money exhibiting at a trade show is to find out the specifics of the trade show you are registering for. If necessary, get in touch with the organizers and learn about the space, the traffic and the layout of the business. This way you will be better prepared to place your booth in a favorable light without having to spend a great deal of money.

Make sure you find out the basics like the size of the display table you’ll be using, whether you have wall space for signs if there are electrical outlets available and other stuff like this. Once you have the specifics you can decide on how to make your products and services stand out.


2. Set Goals

Think about what you want to achieve from the trade show before you start thinking of how you want to save money exhibiting at a trade show. I know you want to save money but you need to understand what you want to get out of it. Determine whether you simply want to create brand awareness, find leads or actually sell something at the show. You should take time out to do some deep thinking and answer these questions:

  • Are you trying to get 10 new leads or 1000?
  • Do you want to sell certain products?
  • Are you simply trying to network with other businesses?

When you want to save money, these are the answers you need to compare to your savings and to the amount of money you budget for displays, giveaways, and advertising. Besides, setting your goals also helps you stay focused and allows you to compare your return on investment at the end of the show.

3. See What You Are Up Against

If you really want to save money exhibiting at a trade show, you should analyze the competition long before your show date. This way you can see what you are up against. There are a few simple things you can do to maximize the leads you get, and these ideas often come from what you see at other trade shows.  For example, you can use a display box on the table, and ask visitors to deposit their business cards or a filled out from here. In exchange, you enter their name for a drawing to win a prize. You can give away candy or even hold a contest. Look at what other businesses do at other trade shows for ideas.  The following are a few simple and inexpensive ideas:

  • Use the display box to hold a drawing for custom t-shirts or two – prizes can be interesting but inexpensive, even one of your discounted services may serve as a prize. Be sure to display the prize(s) you are offering right next to the box as this creates a great motivator.
  • Make a prize wheel that people can spin when they come to your booth. Use small product or sample services as the prize.
  • Play a trivia contest


4. Arrange Your Display Table Properly

A great way to save money exhibiting at a trade show is to know how to arrange your display table correctly. Learning to arrange your display table correctly can save you money as you won’t need to buy expensive display accessories. Arrange your trade show display table in levels. Place large items higher up at the rear and short products in front at a lower level.  Have an ample number of business cards available to give away.

Saving Money

Develop a video or slideshow presentation to display on TV monitors in your booth. Save money exhibiting at a trade show by creating the videos yourself. You can use simple programs like Camtasia or even Movie Maker to create your own video presentations. To better display your videos you can use special monitors or stands but if you are on a tight budget you might even use your laptop set higher on your display. Even a tablet set into a special stand can work.

Just remember it should be attractive and get people who are walking by to stop and take a look at your booth. At most trade shows, company executives do a lot of talking about their company but they don’t really show people what the company can do for them. An interesting video or slideshow can get the job done and can also impress your audience.

5. Give Away Something Unusual

Free corporate pens and mugs are too normal. You can stand out by giving away something a little more interesting – and when it carries your branding, people will take note. Cool giveaways don’t have to break the bank. Think of something like inexpensive like door hangers, cool balloons or even socks. There are a ton of options out there – and many of them are inexpensive.

save money exhibiting at a trade show
Save Money Exhibiting at A Trade Show with Cool Door Hangers

Most people who attend trade shows are expecting to take home something so another cool giveaway is the reusable bag, especially if it is made of recyclable material. Use large bags as these will be the ones that carry people’s stuff out of the show and everyone will notice them.

6. Food Is Always a Big Hit and Offer A Great Way to Save Money Exhibiting at A Trade Show

Another way to save money exhibiting at a tradeshow is to offer a little something to eat.  FOOD makes a great inexpensive giveaway. Not a bowl of mints! Try something like a plate of good cookies. You´ll be a big hit. How about some nuts or chips or even small candy bars? If you can, package your food in a way that will allow you to have your company contact information on it. Bottles of water are also good giveaways. Even if your food isn’t packaged professionally you need to attach a card or some form of your branding. This helps remind them of where they got this cool food item.

7. Save Money Exhibiting at A Trade Show But Also Be Fun

Let’s face it, most industry events can be boring. If you want to stand out, then you need to do something different. You cant just stand about. You need to help people see you and the best way to do this is by having fun. Best of all, this is one of the cheapest ways to save money exhibiting at a tradeshow. Your competition is probably bored already as this is not their first trade show. So get into the entertainment mood. Throw a booth party, make friends, and enjoy the show. Nothing beats being young at heart! Don’t forget that big smile also

8. Publicity

Advertise your attendance at the trade show through direct email. Send a notice out to your entire customer base and you can do it by email. You can also hand out flyers asking current customers to come to visit you. You might even consider doing a little advertising on Facebook. It really isn’t all that expensive. If you plan to hold a contest or give something away be sure to let your customers know and place that information on your publicity. Let everyone know where your booth will be located so they can find you easily.

9. Train Your Staff

Attendees walk the trade show floor and often look bored, ready to go home, and if you take a moment to really look at them you might see them checking their watch rather frequently. Don’t be scared off. They are using their peripheral vision to check out the booths.  They are carefully avoiding direct eye contact with the exhibitors just so they don’t get drawn into the tough sales push. Generally, when an attendee is approached by a sales rep with an aggressive attitude, they leave. But ignoring them is not the solution either. The secret art of networking lies in opening up the conversation using a non-threatening approach.

You might start with something like ‘ I really like your (shoes, hair, outfit). Isn’t the show great?’ Most people will stop and start talking to you. If you have a well-trained staff you don’t need an elaborate booth to grab attention. Nor do you have to pay those high booth design costs. In fact, your current staff or business partners can work this angle and save some money.

Just make sure that your staff isn’t too pushy or overbearing with visitors. They need to be informed about your products and services, but be careful of driving potential buyers away with aggressive selling.

Be sure to ask for feedback from visitors to your booth.

10. Have An Assistant

If the trade show will be on for an extended length of time, be sure to have assistance to help with your booth. This gives you a chance to network with other tradeshow booths and lets you take breaks. If you don’t have the option of having an assistant, be sure to let attendees know you will be out for a while. Just put up a note and tell them when you will be back. My personal opinion is that you really should not leave a booth unattended.  However, if you really need to save money exhibiting at a tradeshow ask your friends and family members for help here. Maybe you can offer them a trade for products or services, or you might just invite them out to dinner after the show.

Here are a few more great tips on how to draw people to your exhibit and the best part of this video is that it doesn’t cost you anything. Here you can save money exhibiting at a trade show simply by changing your team’s presentation method.

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After the Fact – Evaluate Your Success

Start with a post-show debrief. Figure out what worked well and what could be improved.

When you measure the success of your marketing efforts, look beyond the money you want to save exhibiting at the tradeshow. Remember, you need to compare the value to the cost. So it is important to compare your leads, sales and analyze the type of engagement you got.  If you caught people’s interest without having to spend a fortune doing it, you are well on your way to success.  For some specific metrics, you should look at how many Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn followers you gained from the show, how many tweets you sent with the official hashtag, and how many social conversations you engaged in related to the show. Make sure to take advantage of any momentum and follow up! If you use social media channels to engage and attract feedback, make sure you continue the conversation after the show finishes. This is where the real savings exists.

In The End:

Document everything. It is essential to document your goals, marketing collateral, correspondence and results from start to finish. For successful campaigns, you’ll want to optimize your strategy and messaging for the coming year. For disappointing campaigns, you will want to have a reference of what to tweak or avoid altogether.


Here are a few more ideas to make your trade show display a success!

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