Determining Your Real Exhibit CostsBy: Andy Marken
Some people have put together formulas on the cost-per-person per show. Others try to trace actual sales to contacts made at the show. Others use a mixture plus a strong dose of gut-feel. The latter is probably most typical.
Rather than looking at your trade show efforts as an expense, view them in terms of investments just as you do media advertising, sales literature, direct mail, and publicity. Many people address trade shows with "what's the smallest amount of space we can use this time?" instead of "what is the most effective method of presenting our message?"
Almost anyone (except heavy equipment or mainframe manufacturers) would be able to get by with a 10x10 (sometimes 8x10) booth. But would it be the right platform for your products, your company, and your message?
Once you have determined the amount of floor space required, determine how to use the space to its fullest. The variations are numerous and they ultimately affect the cost.
To determine your exhibit budget, what kind of selling will you be doing in the booth? Will you be handing out only literature? Will you be carrying on demonstrations? Will you be conducting semi-private meetings? Will you be spending considerable time with a few groups at the show?
What kind of graphics do you have planned? Signage? A-V presentation? What mood do you want to establish?
Once you have the floor plan, selling message, product requirements, and graphic needs spelled out; you can begin to compile your budget.
Depending upon your preference, you can work with your agency, exhibit designer/contractor or directly with an exhibit builder.
As a rule of thumb, you will probably get two years of show life out of your booth. This is assuming you participate in four to six shows a year, have the exhibit well-crated and shipped the best way possible and provide adequate instructions for setup and dismantling.
For a booth of moderate quality (not outstanding, but tasteful) expect to spend $2,000-$4,000 a linear foot (booth, graphics, special effects, etc.). Good crating will cost 25-30% of your booth cost. Since booths and crates take a terrific beating in transit and during setup, skimping here can be false savings.
To avoid overtime charges and yet get the product you want, expect to spend three-plus months from initiation to completion.
The above planning and budgeting considerations are based on original booth. However, options are available:
Whichever way you go, consider the image you are projecting and the image of your competition at the show. Couple this with the task you want to perform at the show and you can arrive at a realistic budget.
© Copyright 2001, G.A.Marken, Marken Communications
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.