AND SOME FREE–ASSOCIATION
By Paul Bridson
TRADE SHOW marketing will normally justify its expense by generating qualified leads that turn into new sales. But as with anything, nobody wants to pay more than they have to. Here are some strategies can save money every time you exhibit.
Rent. In addition to providing design flexibility, renting lowers upfront costs versus owning your exhibit. You don’t need to pay for storage, maintenance, pull and prep or refurbishment when you rent. Many folks don't realize that your local design shop usually has great rental resources, so you can forget the blah rentals available through the show decorator!
Use your design house to supervise exhibit set up. Experienced supervisors lower labor costs by reducing setup time and eliminating onsite mistakes. An experienced supervisor knows how to work efficiently with show management and labor to get you set up and dismantled in record time and without the usual headaches.
Learn to manage labor. Labor costs can quickly swirl out of control. Allow ample time for exhibit properties to be delivered from dock to booth, and avoid the heartbreak of seeing 4 well-paid laborers cooling their heels waiting for the crates to arrive.
Take full advantage of early bird pricing. Show contractors offer deadline dates for discounted pricing on electrical, rigging, drayage and other booth services. Hitting these targets add up to savings on your budget.
Use lightweight materials in your booth design. Your designer should be able to provide you with weight estimates for properties you are considering. The shipping cost of a proposed booth design should be a prime consideration it your decision-making process. Ask about weight, crating and material handling before signing off on a design.
View your exhibit fully staged before the show. Your exhibit house should be prepared to set up your new property, complete with graphics and lighting BEFORE you ship. Adjusting graphics or hardware on the show floor is exponentially more costly than do so beforehand!
Make sure you run the numbers on electrical needs. Shorting your order and needing to correct it at the show can run your budget into the danger zone. This is simple math, and your exhibit house should be able to help you determine your amperage needs with great precision.
Avoid the small shipments trap. Planning ahead will allow you to bundle everything needed into one (or maybe two) shipments. remember that each shipment incurs substantial drayage charges. A box of velcro might easily end up costing you over $100, due to minimum fees.
Use shippers you trust and "get" the trade show business. Not every shipper understands the delicate dance that is the trade show marshalling yard. If your shipper is unfamiliar with procedure, you may well end up missing crucial deadlines, and incur significant additional expense. A carrier that knows the trade show business is a friend indeed.
Double check your billings at show end. It is not unusual to find mistakes on the general service contractor billings which must be settled prior to the end of the show. Carefully review every item on the bill and ask for backup on any questionable items. Once the show is over it is nearly impossible to dispute these charges.
Paul Bridson and Kelly Sargent
We've been helping companies achieve lofty goals for over twenty years now. Here's the benefit of our experience!