trade show budget cost

Trade Show Budget – where do you fit in?

One of the biggest questions we receive from executives is ‘where do we fit in?”

Depending on your organization, the planning and budget requirements of a trade show could be owned by product managers, marketing directors, or general cross-departmental teams.

Unfortunately this means that many decision makers are perplexed by how much they should spend, where they should spend it, and what the expectations should be.

MarketingSherpa produced this great graphic detailing how companies think about marketing budget.
It helps put things in perspective:

trade show budget cost

An important part of this shows that many decision makers spend almost the same amount on trade shows as they do the entire web site or online business component.

For TradeShowSocialMedia: it is important to highlight because we service 8 of the 12 top cost areas through our multi-disciplinary teams. This allows us to maximize areas of opportunities that cross-over web design, trade show, and social media elements: while keeping an eye on marketing automation and lead processes.

Two important parts that didn’t get on the list

#1 Technology –  your ROI friend

Through-out hundreds of trade shows and all sorts of industries, we’ve noted a severe lack of investment in technology that has a focused return-on-investment. Many companies invest tens of thousands in trade show displays, yet fail to fill them with functional technology that aids business goals. (a common quote of our team is “it sure looks pretty, but what does it do?” )

#2 Training – the only thing you can’t forget

You can spend all the budget in the world on pretty floor displays.

All of that money will be flushed down the tube if you don’t take the time to strategically and tactically train your event staff.

This means that you need to have

  • valid strategies in place to convert specific attendees to specific goals
  • that you have designated a sales/conversion process to nurture your leads
  • that you have designated employees with designated follow-up requirements
  • that you have a method for tracking and analyzing what leads are important

Don’t forget, Trade Shows are complex recipes

One of the most critical ideas to keep in mind is that trade shows are multi-disciplinary. You can’t have a successful event experience with your trade show budget if you focus on one or two elements at the cost of the others.

Rather than think of the trade show budget comparison as something to compare against, use it as a simple checklist and ask yourself the question of “do we have this covered?”

If you don’t have an area covered properly, think about whether or not you can handle it in-house or need external support. By identifying these areas you can create a holistic event strategy and develop multiple areas of ROI.

While comparing what others are doing may provide some strategic insight, making sure you don’t ignore one of these categories accidentally will help you avoid dropping the ball at an event.

Do you have any helpful tips for spending your trade show budget?
Do you fall into some of the same budget ranges or are you different?

3 replies
  1. Jason Adler
    Jason Adler says:

    I think you’ve addressed some pretty good points here.

    I find that one of the biggest budget issues that seem to go uncategorized is training, staffing, and travel/shipping costs. So many professionals forget to allocate dollars for ‘doing business as usual’ and those types of everyday costs can quickly add up into tens of thousands of dollars.

    When I look at the list above, I think the most important part that isn’t listed is coordination and strategy time. Even if you only have three or for elements above, the time required to properly connect the dots is crucial to making everything work.

    Reply
    • Editor
      Editor says:

      Thanks for the convo.

      I think that is a driving force in the event business: the transition of doing things under traditional models of business and comparing them to the cost effectiveness of newer techniques.

      A lot of times we see event organizers and booth staff try to compare apples to oranges, but they fail to realize the cost around shipping, storage, care taking, training, etc. When considering these factors you need to think about things like adoption and usability (if your audience doesn’t know how to use a tool, it can cost a tremendous amount of time/effort to train them.)

      Reply

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