Budgets. It’s one of those things that ranks right up there with a root canal when it comes to sending shivers up your spine, right? The truth is that it doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, with a few simple steps taken and time spent at the beginning of the year, you’ll be on the path to truly maximizing your trade show exhibit investments.
While smart budgeting doesn’t mean you simply throw numbers together, it doesn’t demand that you have to worry about every penny spent either. Remember a budget isn’t set in stone. It simply serves as a guideline that can be adjusted as your exhibit plan progresses throughout the year. Why is having an exhibit marketing budget so important? First of all, it helps keep you on track and also shows you where the money is going. (That’s good news for you … and for those within your company who write the checks!)
So how do you begin setting a trade show budget? Even if you’ve never created one before, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. One common school of thought is to take whatever you’re paying for booth space and triple it to get your estimated total budget. Another guideline is the CEIR report, “How the Exhibit Dollar is Spent,” which gives a breakdown of typical budgets. Note that neither of these methods are foolproof and there are numerous ways to save without sacrificing results. In fact, we’ll cover dozens of those suggestions in the Exhibit Marketers Café in January!
Remember everything in budgeting is a trade-off. When unexpected expenses happen in one category, you must know where else you can adjust to accommodate … and where you’re not willing to cut corners. You may need to go line-by-line to discover what are your biggest ROI factors, which deserve a larger chunk of your budget. And be sure to compare your projected numbers to what you actually spend to learn from experience and make next year’s budgeting even easier.
With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. She travels the country consulting and training both exhibitors and show managers, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image (2002), host of the Trade Show Insights blog-cast and creator of the ExhibitorEd Success System and the Exhibit Marketers Café. To request an “Extra Shot of Exhibit Success” go to www.ExhibitMarketersCafe.com.
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