Exhibiting at conferences, trade shows or consumer exhibitions requires significant investments of both time and money to achieve your goals. This blog will guide you through building confidence and knowledge of the best ways to prepare a budget and avoid common exhibiting mistakes.
Preparing a budget for an exhibition can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. There are many different factors to consider, but understanding what all the factors are and why they are all important will help you prepare well. For further information, consider our Exhibition Budgeting Template, which details all of the exhibition factors and allows you to enter data and prepare a savable budget.
One of the first things you will organise when you decide to exhibit is your floor space. There will be many different options to purchase floor space, and you'll need to decide how much floor space you will require. Many exhibition organisers provide you with information about what is included in the cost of the floor space, so you can assess what is the best option for you, and your budget. Which exhibition you are attending will also be a factor in how much floor space you should buy. In some exhibitions there are majority 3x3m spaces, in other exhibitions there are a majority of custom exhibition stands over a wide variety of sizes.
This will be a big decision, do you rent a shell-scheme stand from the exhibition organiser, or do you purchase a custom exhibition stand? There are benefits and negatives to both, and to be able to budget the best option for you, you really should consider you goals and weight these against your ideal budget. If your budget is incredibly limited, you are better off hiring a shell-scheme stand from an exhibition organiser, and organising any additional items yourself. Much like other DIY projects, there are cheaper ways to organise an exhibition stand if you are running low on money. Just remember this costs you time, and it can be a frustrating process. If you can afford other options, it is best to pro and con list for each option that you have. The price of each option is going to fall on one side of that list, and the rest of the list will dictate whether the price is something you can justify.
These are some of the costs that you can organise yourself. Your lighting options, your graphics, furniture or AV hire, as well as cleaning the stand or any stand installation costs. These are things that you could organise to stay within your budget, or if you are unable to organise them yourself you need to be aware of the cost of these items. If you have the budget to organise an exhibition company to complete these services for you the whole process of exhibiting will be less stressful. Exhibition companies go through a process to ensure that everything is completed to a high standard, if your budget is tight and it doesn't allow for exhibition companies to complete the show services for you, you need to be prepared to work hard to achieve the same standard that an exhibition company would achieve.
This is a cost that you won't be able to avoid, and it is an important cost. If you are a smaller business it can be tempting to man the exhibition stand yourself, and not have any other staff helping you. If this is the case, be prepared to lose sales! You cannot be everywhere and attend to every customer who decides to come and visit your exhibition stand. You will need help, or you will lose sales. And that can make exhibiting very disheartening. Allow a reasonable amount in your budget for exhibition staff costs. They are a necessity to exhibiting successfully.
Marketing and Advertising
Advertising that you will be exhibiting is so important. It highlights to your target audience that they really should come see you and engage with your product offerings. If you don't advertise your exhibition appearance, how do you expect that potential customers will find you? Allowing room in your budget for marketing and advertising should be reflective of the usual cost of your marketing and advertising efforts. Your pre-show advertising efforts should include many different forms, depending on what you product is and who you target audience are. Email, traditional methods such as television or radio ads or social media campaigns are all great ways to let your audience know you are exhibiting. Some of these methods will cost very little, some will be more expensive. The results that you garner from exhibiting will indicate what future budgets on advertising and marketing should be, so ensure that you record your results.
There are other costs you should be aware of that can occur with exhibiting. If you have to travel for the exhibition there will be travel and accommodation costs, other business expenses such as food and other consumables. Client entertainment or networking opportunities could also present a miscellaneous cost. These are often necessary costs in the process of completing sales, and something to be aware of when creating an exhibition budget, to remove any shock that occur from these costs.
Being aware of all of these costs can give you an idea of how to prepare an exhibition marketing budget. This article provides an overview, and for more in depth discussion please view our Resources page where you can view more exhibition material to help you succeed.