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Trade Show Exhibiting in a Tight Economy

Trade Show Exhibiting in a Tight Economy

Is a tough economy causing concern about exhibiting costs and trade show exhibit budgets?

By Daniel Chaddock, President of E&E Exhibit Solutions

If tough economic times are taking a toll on your business, you’re not alone. Companies large and small are making cutbacks in their 2009 budgets – especially in areas like trade shows and events. But before you make far-reaching decisions about your marketing budget, consider the benefits of a trade show program. After all, participating in trade shows is vital for reaching a highly targeted market and generating new leads for your product or service.

In fact, when times are tough, trade shows can be even more important for exhibitors. Not only will some of your competitors skip the big show, but you’ll also find companies are more likely to send only their key decision-makers to the event – meaning your team will spend their time working with the most qualified leads.

Thankfully, there are many ways to keep exhibiting in your budget without breaking the bank. By remembering the basics, getting creative with your exhibit and trade show accessories and correctly managing your show time and staff, you can maximize the effectiveness of your trade show budget. Here’s how:

Make the Most of Your Space and Time:

  • Should you stay or should you go? If you are debating whether or not to attend a show, first consider reducing the size of your booth space. Show management wants you to exhibit and will most likely work with you on downsizing your space, which can significantly decrease show fees, as well as exhibit costs. And if you choose high-impact trade show exhibit designs, you can still make a splash.
  • Ask your exhibit house for help. If you’ve trimmed staff to save budget, your exhibit house can help you with planning and forms during crunch time. While they often charge a minimal fee for this service, this help can be vital.
  • Get a pre- and post-show plan in place. Whether it’s pre-show advertising letting your targets know where to find you at the show or post-show follow-up with new leads, developing a comprehensive marketing plan for before and after a show will help increase your ROI.
  • Always keep your ROI in mind. By keeping your eye on the goal, you can ensure your marketing dollars are maximizing your results.

Be Efficient with Your Exhibit:

  • Try a rental trade show exhibit. Rental exhibits offer a reduced cost of ownership, eliminating the cost of storage, maintenance and handling. They also allow you to update the look of your exhibit at each trade show you attend.
  • If you need a custom exhibit, shop smart. Think of innovative ways to repurpose your booth to capitalize on your investment. For example, a custom portable exhibit can reduce ownership and operational costs while allowing for structural changes and scalability. With a 20×20 custom portable island that breaks down into a 10×20 or 10×10 exhibit, you have the flexibility to choose your booth size and configuration for each show. Also, custom exhibit extras like multimedia kiosks can reinforce your branding in your lobby, office or showroom.
  • Update your existing display. If a whole new booth isn’t in the cards this year, rejuvenate your look by adding a few simple elements rather than buying an entirely new portable display booth. One sleek, well-placed trade show accessory, such as flat-panel monitors, counters, shelves and stand-off graphics can help refresh your look for a low price.

Remember the Nuts and Bolts:

  • Focus on one key marketing message. A clear, simple message that supports your objectives will help visitors know who you are and what you do.
  • Make sure your staff is competent and well trained. Getting your trade show display to the show is only half the battle. In addition, you are also responsible for preparing your booth staff, who sell your product on the show floor. Make sure your staff know your show objectives, are attentive to booth visitors, can qualify leads effectively and are fully trained on your product lines. A well-trained staff will help ensure you have a successful show.

Despite the tough economy, trade shows remain a valuable way to market your products and services. By efficiently utilizing show space and time and making smart decisions with your custom portable exhibits or exhibit rentals (in authorized states) you can trim your costs – without losing out on important trade shows this year.

Since 1994, Daniel Chaddock has consulted on effective custom exhibit designs and use of trade show displays for trade show marketing. He is currently President of E&E Exhibit Solutions, a trade show display company with expertise in custom portable exhibits and custom modular displays. You can reach Daniel via email to or contact us at 800.709.6935.

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“That was hands down the best event that we have ever done. I cannot tell you how many people told us that we had the best booth in the whole place.”

-Missy Lawler
Events Director and Hardware Sales Manager


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