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5 Tips to avoid your next trade show exhibit being a complete disaster

Booth Exhibits Tips And Tricks

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Trade shows are experiential marketing at its pique; they are quite an endeavor and demand a blend of creativity, strategy, and meticulous planning, all of which pushes marketing teams into a very creative space. But there’s one critical aspect that can make or break your success – the budget.

A Busy Exhibition Show

Whether you’re a seasoned exhibitor or a wide-eyed newcomer, avoiding common budgeting mistakes is the key to unlocking a cost-effective successful booth experience. In this article, we’ll delve into the thrilling world of trade show budgets; together, we’ll uncover the biggest pitfalls we see all of the time.

Get ready for eye-opening insights, actionable tips, and a touch of insider wisdom to navigate the financial labyrinth of booth setup. Paying attention to these trade show exhibit tips will help make your booth shine, mesmerize your audience, and achieve a dazzling return on investment (ROI). So, tighten your seatbelts, and let’s embark on this captivating journey together.

Underestimating trade show costs


One of the most significant mistakes is underestimating the overall costs of setting up and running a trade show booth. A booth design is easily one of your biggest assets; it drives the attention, it drives the footfall, and it’s the very first stage of your lead generation cycle. But underestimating the cost of a booth design can spell total disaster, and it all comes down to poor planning!

Expenses To Expect

In our experience, some often-overlooked expenses include:

  • booth space rental

  • booth design and construction materials

  • shipping and other logistics

  • promotional materials

  • travel and accommodation

  • special booth features

  • marketing collateral

  • staff training

Calculate Your Budget Wisely

These expenses are just the beginning, but failing to account for them accurately can lead to overspending or running out of funds. This, in turn, can can cause stress and disorganization for the exhibit team, thereby detracting from their ability to engage with prospects and maximize the event’s potential. In fact, bad planning means it is entirely possible to start losing funds before the trade show even opens, so it’s highly important to budget accordingly!

Poor planning and timeline management


A lack of proper planning and timeline management often results in rushed decisions and higher costs. It’s essential to create detailed timeline early, and account for all necessary tasks like booth design, production, shipping, and marketing preparations. Rushing these processes often leads to mistakes, additional fees for expedited services, or missed opportunities for cost-saving measures. These problems are bad enough on their own, but continued negligence will compound them and put your business at risk.

A Simple Timeline Always Goes A Long Way In Exhibition Planning

Neglecting hidden or incidental expenses are another relevant issue here. When budgeting, it’s crucial to consider not only the apparent expenses but also the hidden or incidental costs. These may include electrical and internet connections, extra labor for booth setup and dismantling, insurance, permits, storage fees, and any additional services required during the event. Don’t forget internet connection services either, as relying on potentially unreliable venue WiFi can give a negative impression to attendees and hurt the quality of your trade show display. Believe us, we’ve been there!

Failure to factor in all the different show expenses can result in unexpected budget shortfalls, and will certainly hamper you ability to generate qualified leads. Try to always spend time detailing your budget and understanding all the details of your exhibition timeline, as this will help prevent any unforeseen disasters on your important exhibition day.

Overcommitting on booth size or features


Fancy Expensive Screens Aren't The Be All And End All Of Exhibitions, Use Them Only If You Really Need Them

Choosing oversized trade show displays or adding excessive features to your booth without careful consideration are another costly mistake we see often at trade shows events. Larger booth spaces come with higher rental costs, increased setup and dismantling efforts, and increased expenses for booth design and decorations. It’s always a better strategy to take a smaller space and build your booth over two floors, than overcommit on floor space and end up wasting precious resources.

Similarly, incorporating extravagant features like interactive displays or high-tech elements may significantly increase costs without always providing proportional returns on investment. Careful consideration of your goals and target audience is essential to avoid overspending on unnecessary booth features.

There’s no point budgeting for a large or extravagant trade show booth if you aren’t expecting to generate many leads at a specific exhibition. Knowing your audience is vital, and prior research on who exactly attends which kinds of exhibition events can optimize your performance and save you money in the long run.

Inadequate marketing and promotional planning

Budgeting solely for the physical booth setup and neglecting associated marketing and promotional activities can undermine the overall success of your participation in the trade show. You can overcome this issue by allocating a portion of your budget for pre-show marketing, such as advertising on social media outlets, email marketing, promotional literature, and public relations. This will draw attention to your presence at the trade show and encourage visitors to stop by for a chat on exhibition day.

A Prize Draw Is An Excellent Way Of Attracting Visitors To Your Exhibit

Additionally, plan for promotional items, a prize draw, contests, or demonstrations during the event to attract even more potential customers to your booth. These items and events need to be planned properly, taking into account how busy the venue is and the direction of foot traffic. At the same time, you should also take into account neighboring exhibitors on the trade show floor who may plan on offering the similar promotions; these other exhibitors will likely draw people away from your booth if it doesn’t seem unique enough.

Overall, neglecting these aspects entirely can limit your booth’s visibility and effectiveness, which will harm your ability to convert leads. On the other hand, putting the appropriate prior effort into marketing your presence will ensure you attract all the booth visitors you plan on interacting with.

Failing to evaluate and measure ROI


Ultimately, without setting clear goals and establishing metrics to measure return on investment (ROI), it becomes challenging to assess the success and effectiveness of your trade show participation. It’s crucial to define your objectives beforehand and then determine how you will go about evaluating your show outcomes afterwards. This allows you to make improvements to your exhibits year-on-year and become a veteran exhibitor at every event.

Countless Exhibitors Have Failed Due To The Poor Measurement Of Their Roi

Certainly, by monitoring metrics such as leads generated, sales closed, brand exposure, and customer feedback, you can make informed decisions for future budgeting and booth improvements. Speaking about this topic with your marketing team can also yield exceptional results at future exhibits and improving company performance as a whole.

So, try to view every new trade show you attend as an opportunity to improve upon your performance at the last. That way, you can stay ahead of your investments and ensure your company receives consistent returns from each trade show it exhibits at.

Final thoughts


Trade show exhibition booths are technically complex, but running them doesn’t have to be. A poorly executed booth can damage the company’s brand image and reputation, as attendees may perceive the company as unprofessional or unprepared, but our five top tips above should help when thinking about exhibiting at a trade show. By keeping track of your costs, planning appropriately, marketing effectively, designing optimally, and noting gaps in your performance, you can ensure your company enjoys a positive trade show experience that leaves a lasting impression on attendees.

From CEOs to marketing managers and exhibition stand attendants, there should always be room for everyone to contribute to a robust trade show exhibition plan. At Booth Exhibits™, we’d also love to pitch in and help you plan a world-class exhibition that doesn’t break the bank. We’ve even developed a handy online price calculator to that effect, give it a go today!

Frequently asked questions

Note all your potential costs, plan your budget and stand well in advance, choose an appropriate stand that fits your budget, market your stand effectively, and assess where you can improve in future.

Plan your budget and stand with your whole marketing team, including the assigned booth staff, while doing appropriate research on the event and venue.

A good trade show display is unique, eye-catching, well-staffed, well-planned and relevant to your brand’s identity.

Use an appropriate color palette, select a stand design that is visually appealing yet practical, and ensure your booth and products are different from neighboring exhibitors.

Patrick Wells
Founder & CEO, Booth Exhibits™
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