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How to Maximize Your Tradeshow Value and Minimize Costs

graphic showing value and dollar sign on a scale

There’s a reason trade shows have been around for decades. They provide an opportunity for businesses to showcase their products and services and network with potential customers and partners. But tradeshow value is only there if it’s worth the investment of time and money!

Check out this survey Exhibitor conducted with 300+ companies on how their exhibiting dollar is spent. Here are the results:

Graphic Design and Production – 6%
Shipping – 9%
Booth Space – 32%
Virtual Exhibits and Events – 3%
Show Services – 7%
Other (Social Media and Content Creation) – 5%
Marketing Promotion – 13%
Travel & Lodging – 14%
Exhibit Design & Construction – 10%
Digital, Social Media Marketing – 10%

These stats illustrate the percentage of money that has to go toward a booth space. There is no doubt that trade shows provide an invaluable opportunity to build relationships with potential customers and partners. But if it’s not done strategically, you are losing all sorts of money and not getting the most tradeshow value.

Where the money is spent?

Trade show organization has an ever-increasing price tag for things like drayage (aka the process of transporting goods over short distances) and electrical, which puts some exhibitors in a tough spot. It’s hard to invest in the show if you don’t think your exhibit ROI will be equal to the cost! These exhibits are going to go extinct if there’s not a valuable opportunity for businesses to meet and mingle. We took a deep dive into how to fight for exhibitors, and how to increase tradeshow value despite the rising costs.

Here are some tips from an exhibitor advocate to help you get the most tradeshow value and make sure your next event will be a success:

Know your exhibitor needs and advocate for them.

What do you need for your exhibit? When it comes to planning an event, finding the right venue is essential. It’s important to get the best value for your money and ensure that the venue meets all of your needs. If you don’t know what those are, no one else does either! Get clear on your goals so that you can realize them.

Speak up to your show management association.

Yes, it’s time to let your voice be heard. Don’t be afraid to speak up, make your needs known, and ask crucial questions. The show management association is supposed to be there to support you and your show, so make sure there is open communication. And in most cases that conversation starts with you. The squeaky wheel gets the oil!

Maximize tradeshow value in less conventional cities with smaller convention centers.

Cities with smaller convention centers might not seem like they’re worth your time, but they can actually be quite beneficial if you’re just starting out. Why? They’re smaller, they don’t have as many vendors and exhibitors as the bigger ones do. That means less competition for your booth space and more opportunities to meet new people who may become clients down the road.

They also tend to be cheaper, so if you’re just starting out and don’t have much money to spend on your booth, then these types of shows are a great way to get started without breaking the bank.

Take advantage of an exhibitor advisory council.

Now, more than ever, it is so important that sponsors and exhibitors feel supported and heard. By including sponsors and exhibitors in the event planning process in this way, they are actively engaged in shaping the future of the event and have more ownership of the event. They benefit from participating as well – being involved in the EAB helps them better plan, budget, and take advantage of opportunities the show offers.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate for a better deal.

Negotiating can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this. Many businesses big and small go to trade shows to do business, which means that the pressure is on to get the best possible deals. Know your worth! Before you go into any negotiation, it’s also important to know your budget. This way, you’ll have a clear idea of what you’re willing to accept. And if you are hoping to save some cash, you never know until you ask!

How do we keep trade shows thriving?

While trade shows are still an important part of the marketing mix, they are facing cost increases making it difficult for exhibitors to justify investing in the show due to their limited budgets. This has led to a decrease in value for trade shows when the ROI for participating is not equal to the cost.

Let’s fix it!

All stakeholders must come to the table and figure out how to reduce costs and increase value for exhibitors. This will help them make a better decision when deciding whether or not they should exhibit at a particular event. The value of trade shows needs to shift from focusing on booth size and location to focusing on engagement, experience, and the ROI attendees can take away from the show.

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