8 Line Items of a Trade Show Budget

Budget Guidelines for Trade Show Marketing

B'techa didn't know - Trade shows are the second largest expenditure of corporate marketing dollars in the US. Only the field salesperson costs a company more.

How much of that money is wasted? Oodles - if you don't know what you're doing and how to track it.

Clients often ask, "How much does it cost to do a trade show?" It can be a little or a lot. Remember - a tabletop show at a Chamber of Commerce networking event will cost you significantly less than a 10-day international event, but these EIGHT major components are good guidelines in budgeting.

1. The Rent on your Space - The only constant in trade shows is the real estate -that piece of gray concrete you rent. Some shows are priced by a flat fee. Most are priced according to a square foot (sq. meter) standard for the show. Generally, it's 10sq ft or 3sq meters (about 100 sq. feet). Prices will range from $10-$100/sq ft, or $1,000 to $10,000 per space. Check your calculations carefully.

2. On-floor Expenses - Anything that requires labor or utilities for your exhibit. This includes all labor (i.e. - I&D installation and dismantling - to setup and tear-down your exhibit) and utilities - electricity, gas, water, compressed air, etc.

3. Your Exhibit, Graphics and Accessories - All of the physical parts of your exhibit, including design fees and production, and crating.

4. Freight and Drayage - These can be confusing terms, so here is the easy way to remember. Freight is how your exhibit gets from anywhere (your office, warehouse or another show) to the current show's loading dock. You can put it in a car, send it by plane, ship, bus or truck. Drayage, on the other hand, has a very specific meaning. It is only the movement of your exhibit from the loading dock to your exhibit space and back to the loading dock. Then "freight" takes it from the loading dock to its next destination. Drayage can be the most expensive word you don't know.

5. The Cost of Your Time - If you weren't at the show, what would you be doing? Consider there are now three workloads you carry when you exhibit

* the work you are doing at the show (booth duty, seminars, networking, meeting with clients, etc.)

* the work you have at your office - if you're not there, who is doing your work?

* the Internet work - I'm seeing more people spending hours after the show making doing business via email and cell phones..

6. The Costs of Travel and Entertainment - From the time you leave until the time you return, you're spending money. Keep careful track of T&E expenses for you and your staff.

7. Promotions and Advertising BEFORE the Show - The really smart exhibitors know that trade shows are not isolated marketing events, but part of a continuum of sales and marketing. For example, your ad in the trade publication for the three months prior to the show may be part of your general advertising budget or a special ad just to announce your attendance at the show. In this category include premiums, show specials, ad specialities (giveaways), dealer incentives and other promotions.

8. Promotions and Advertising AFTER the Show - Here's a scary thought. EIGHTY PERCENT (80%) of leads aren't followed up. Forget the advertising and promotions, just send a simple Thank You note within a week of the show. Follow-up with phones calls, appointments and whatever else in normal in your sales cycle.

All of these eight items cost you money, but the most expensive is #8 - if you don't consider your sales cycle and follow-up properly - then #1 through #7 are wasted.

Julia O'Connor - Speaker, Author, Consultant - writes about practical aspects of trade shows. As president of Trade Show Training, inc,, now celebrating its 10th year, she works with companies in a variety of industries to improve their bottom line and marketing opportunities at trade shows.

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