A trade show booth can be a great way to increase exposure for your business and take it to the next level. Yet, the cost of acquiring a space, building a display, gathering marketing materials, and paying a staff to assist you can be a considerable investment, especially for a small business that is starting out. That being said, stretching your trade show budget by cutting costs and making well-informed decisions can go a long way in helping you have the best experience possible without breaking the bank.

Here are a few tips we’ve gathered over the years to help you save money during the planning and execution of your first trade show.

1. Attend Local Shows

Consider attending local trade shows and shows that don’t require as many travel expenses (flights, accommodations, transport to and from the trade show, food, etc.). Local shows also mean you can reduce shipping and storage costs for your booth and materials.

2. Attend Smaller Shows

Smaller trade shows are usually less expensive to attend because they don’t charge premiums on booth space. Many smaller trade shows have the added benefit of being more targeted, meaning the attendees are there for specific reasons. Just be sure the trade show fits your brand’s offerings.

3. Use Your Best Employees

If you’d like to save money on staffing your trade show booth, you might want to think about using your own employees. Instead of hiring entirely new staff to work your booth, you could hire an individual trainer to teach your current employees how to work the booth and interact with show attendees. Consider their personalities when deciding who you want to represent your company. It’s important to make sure attendees are greeted warmly and feel comfortable at your booth, while also ensuring your staff can generate buzz and create excitement around your booth, products, and services.

If you can, keep your staff small. Doing so will reduce travel expenses,, accomodations, food, and badge fees.

4. Fill Your Booth With Your Products

While a fancy booth with an expensive display and marketing materials can be a great way to get attention, they can also be expensive. If you feel like your booth is lacking pizzazz, try making your products the centerpiece for your booth. The use of tiered shelving and strategic lighting can enhance the look of these items, giving them a decorative quality which can help fill empty space.

Leveraging your company’s assets can go a long way in making your booth look and feel pleasing for visitors. After all, it’s the small details that make up the big picture! Since these items are samples of your inventory they have a negligible comparative cost. Furthermore, you get the added benefit of showcasing your products and their features, which can help increase interest with potential customers.

5. Plan Ahead and Book Early

Starting your planning early on has a variety of benefits. Not only can you stay ahead of schedule and sidestep missed deadline fees due to unforeseen circumstances, but you can also book hotels and flights when they’re at their cheapest. Many trade shows also offer early-bird forms, which give you reduced fees for signing up early.

Bonus tip: depending on the size of the staff you’ll be bringing to the show, it might be more cost-efficient to rent a house via Airbnb for the duration of your stay. You can also hold events at the house after each day’s events to further network and build your contact list.

6. Eliminate Waste

Reduce shipping and drayage fees by finding ways to combine shipping, maximize cargo space, and pack light.

Know what services will be absolutely necessary to the functioning of your booth, and cut out the ones you don’t need.

If you’re using lead retrieval software, try and find one that works offline so your booth can function without having to pay for internet service. When choosing which software to use,  look for one that fits your needs and doesn’t provide extras that you won’t even use. Remember, investing in the most basic software can sometimes cost you more time and money in the long run.

If the trade show allows it, cleaning your own booth can save you a good chunk of change by eliminating cleaning service fees.

Focus, Focus, Focus

Success at a trade show isn’t about spending the most money on the most glamorous displays. Rather you have to focus your efforts – concentrate on the customers and focus on the products and services that you offer. This can be enhanced through video and images, and then encouraged by having a friendly, engaging staff on hand.

As an experienced exhibit provider, we have the ability to create booths to match any budget. We also have the knowledge, resources, and contacts to help you cut costs and make sure your trade show goes off without a hitch (and without blowing your budget)!