As an exhibit manager, you have a fiscal responsibility to allocate your resources properly and report results accurately to management. Without money nothing will happen. W. Somerset Maugham wrote “Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the five.” The bottom line for your entire exhibit program depends on harnessing the right amount of fiscal resources. However, we are in an age when marketers simply do not have unlimited budgets. Here are seven tips that will help trim a few dollars from your budget.
First-time exhibitors may consider renting booth hardware before taking the plunge and committing to one system. Typical rental costs are about 20 percent of the retail value of the hardware, excluding signs and graphics. Another consideration is refurbishing an older booth rather than replacing it. If the structure is in good shape, then re-facing it can be cost effective. First time exhibitors might also consider purchasing a used booth.
Generally shows have an official freight forwarder. At first glance, it may seem more expensive, but the official freight forwarder will likely guarantee on-time delivery because it understands the show and often gets priority at the loading docks. Whenever possible, avoid last-minute shipments because charges can be exorbitant. If your event does not have a designated freight forwarder, consider forming a group with other exhibitors from your area to negotiate better rates collectively. The cost of drayage—moving goods from the show’s receiving dock to your show floor space—is a reality in many exhibit facilities. Depending on the location, you may be able to move some things yourself, such as a booth that comes in a case on wheels, but before you move anything, check the local labor rules.
In certain jurisdictions you can provide your own labor, while in others you cannot. Be sure to read the show rules carefully. On-site labor charges can be minimized by ensuring that your display needs as little work as possible on-site. A pre-show checkup will eliminate a lot of last-minute structural problems.
Planning early for the entire year is an easy way to stretch your promotion budget. It gives you the cost advantage of multiple-unit purchasing of advertising space, lower per-unit costs on premiums and printed material, as well as an opportunity to work collectively with other exhibitors. Ensure that your boothers limit the use of give-away items to only serious visitors. Brochures, premiums, and other trade show tools are wasted when exhibit staff would rather give them away than pack them up and ship them back.
Often exhibitors welcome the idea of cross-promotion. You can trade products in each other’s booth with a sign acknowledging where the attendee can learn more about a particular product. For example, if you sell computer hardware, find someone else at the show that sells computer furniture. You can also put links on each other’s web sites, conduct joint advertising programs, and participate in collective promotional techniques such as the use of a passport at the event.
5. The Media
If you cultivate your relationship carefully with members of the media, they can be terrific promotional partners. There is no guarantee that you will get what you want, but there is little cost and the potential reward, such as moving to the front of the line when it’s time for editorial coverage, is so high that it is worth the effort.
6. Show Services
The cost difference between ordering services within the show deadlines and at the last minute is substantial. Read your show manual carefully and ensure that you have ordered everything on time. Land-line telephones are expensive to install and often redundant since most of your staff have their own cell phones or PDAs. Unless you need the landline for an Internet connection, this is one expense you can avoid.
7. Booth Staff
In some locations you can hire professional booth staff from a local agency rather than bringing your own. Often the cost of travel, accommodation, and the time away from the office makes bringing staff uneconomical.
Small ideas like these can provide big results without having to break the bank to get them.
About the Author:
Barry Siskind, President and Founder of Internationals Training and Management Company. Barry is a consultant, speaker and internationally recognized expert in trade and consumer shows. Barry is an active member of the Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM), the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA) and International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).