Ideas to stretch your trade show marketing budget

October 23, 2014

Many marketers are starting the process of figuring out their 2015 trade show marketing budget. Looking at last year and adding up all the costs involved in purchasing a booth,  shipping the exhibit, setting it up and comparing it to the leads they obtained.  Did your company grow in 2014?  If it did - your program was probably successful and your plan should stay intact.  If you do not feel you obtain the return on your investment of your trade show marketing program - then you might want to look at these ideas to stretch your budget next year:

  1. Shows attendingExpectations

    Take a look at all the shows you attended and determine if you need to attend them all.  What was the return on your investment per show.  Do you have the right attendees coming to the event that meet your criteria?   Should there be a focus on smaller more regional shows or stay with a couple of major National shows?  Bottom line – look at each show individually and pull up the information on what they are doing in 2015 and analyze it!

  2. Booth Space Budget

    What size space did you have at each event.  Should you downsize your space on some and increase it on others? Is the show keeping the price the same or is it changing?  Does the location of the show in 2015 make a difference - document where each show is being held in 2015 along with the booth space size to determine costs.  You might want to look up some of the rules too – each show is different depending on its venue.

  3. Promotional Materials

    How did you promote your event - before, during, and after the show.  Was it effective?  Instead of a direct mailing piece - focus on building your email list and sending out a cost effective email blast while posting your presence on your website, Facebook, and twitter.  If you handed out a promotional gadget - be sure to hand out something that is in the long run effective and not a throw away.  Maybe look at one item across all your shows so that you can purchase something in bulk to keep costs down.

  4. Generating Leads

    How are you collecting leads?  If you pay for a lead retrieval machine - are you using the leads when you get back to the office?  If not, maybe just collect business cards.  If you are doing a lot of shows – maybe a survey would be better and purchasing a couple iPads to input the data at each show.  These can then be used for other things in the office.

  5. Booth

    Is your booth expensive to ship and setup?  Is reconfigurability an issue?  You might want to invest in a new booth that meets your 2015 needs, one that is more lightweight and can be used in multiple size spaces.  Maybe your booth is fine -  but your messaging is dated and not effective.  Ask your exhibitor to refurbish your booth and then add some new graphics.  And if you are constantly renting a TV, maybe look at making a purchase of electronics for all your shows instead of paying rental fees.

  6. Staff

    Take a look at your staff expenses per show.  Did you have the right number of people managing the booth?  Again, look at the locations of each show and determine based on booth size and return how many people you want involved in that booth and plan ahead.  Book your flights and hotel rooms now or at least start watching them to try and get some decent deals.


Start planning for your 2015 trade show marketing budget NOW by analyzing your results from this year and documenting all the costs.  You should have a spreadsheet of each show with what your expenses were per show and you should be meeting with the sales team to understand which shows are effective for your business.  From there you  can start stretching your budget and making the most return for your company.

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