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Seven Ways to Deal With Trade Show Budget Cuts

tradeshowtools“I have good news and bad news,” your marketing VP tells you.


The good news: The company’s launching a new digital media campaign. The bad news: The money’s coming out of your trade show budget. But you have five big shows coming up this year, so how are you supposed to get results while spending less money than last year? Here are a few ideas.


  1. Re-evaluate your show roster. Last year, was there a small show that didn’t deliver a good ROI on your spend? Or did you attend a large show where your booth was shoved in a back corner and failed to draw people in? Maybe you should cut them from your calendar in the coming year.


  1. Downsize your booth. Booth space is the single biggest expense for most companies, accounting for 35 percent of the average company’s trade show budget. Shrinking your space can be a major money saver. Not sure how to adapt your 20’x20’ trade show exhibit for a 10’x20’ space? FrontLine Exhibits can help you figure out logistics and rent smaller backwalls or other elements, if needed.


  1. Hit the advance warehouse deadline. Typically, most large shows let you ship your trade show exhibit to the warehouse until a date that’s one to two weeks before the show. You can save 20 to 30 percent if you make sure your display arrives by that advance deadline. Avoid last-minute show-site shipping at all costs.


  1. Don’t ship the TV! We’ll tell you a secret: Shipping a flatscreen TV to trade shows often costs more than the TV itself. You have to buy a special case to ensure it arrives intact (and shipping a TV in the box it came in just doesn’t work). Instead, buy the screen you need at your destination city. Some of our clients raffle it off as a booth prize, a move that’s popular with prospects and saves them money on shipping it home.


  1. Leave someone at home. Cutting your trade show team by just one person can result in savings of $1,000-plus, depending on the cost of airfare, hotels and meals at your destination city.


  1. Rent your trade show display. Renting is a surefire way to trim your trade show budget: You can save two-thirds of the hardware cost compared to purchasing it. With our customized graphics, rented displays look identical, in most cases, to those purchased outright. Learn more about the pros and cons of trade show display rentals.


  1. Switch to digital brochures. How much can you save if you skip printing and shipping your company’s literature for this year’s trade shows? And how much more of an impact will you have if you can avoid handing prospects a piece of paper that will end up in the trash can at the end of the aisle? Take a thoughtful approach to digital marketing materials. Let prospects interact with them on a touchscreen or iPad, choosing what’s most relevant to them. Then, you can email them a customized selection of PDFs a few days later, avoiding the post-show barrage.

Trade Shows: B2B’s Black Friday



We’re coming off of retail’s hottest annual weekend. “Black Friday” has seeped deep into Thanksgiving Thursday and extends an arm all the way into “Cyber Monday” spurring economic growth. This weekend uses a combination of unbeatable deals and a proximity to upcoming holidays to drive sales.  In the business-to-business sales world such a weekend event doesn’t exist. Or does it?

Retail’s craziest weekend has a lot of the traits that make trade shows so important in the b2b world. There is a predetermined date range, usually one that falls annually. A consumer base that is well aware of the buying opportunity. And of course, competition vying for dollars in a tight window. So what do we make of these parallels?

Let’s analyze how retail, both online and brick-and-mortar, market themselves for this period. Just using trends from what I see from hundreds of brands over this weekend, I think we have an idea for what must be working.



Announce Participation

In advance of this weekend, my inbox is flooded with emails just letting me know to be on the lookout for their participation in the retail mega-weekend. Using email campaigns and personal invitations lets attendees, and specifically your prospects, know that you will be at the show.



Increase Frequency

From about a month out through the weekend itself, I receive increasing communication like the above participation announcements along with other emails. Saturating me with the brand via email, text, web ads and even push notifications on my phone. The key here with b2b is to find the line that will get you top of mind without annoying your prospects. Utilize less abrasive, but still highly visible tactics like physical advertisements at the show venue, sponsored hotels and even airports and taxis.



Utilize a Loss Leader

Brick-and-mortar’s favorite option is to offer an unbelievable, one-time deal to get customers in their store. This may be sold at a loss just to capitalize on priming purchasing in that store. Is there something you could offer a show-only deal on to get attendees into your space and purchasing? Consider products or services that can be leveraged into additional, full margin sales on the spot.



Ride Momentum

Retailers know that this weekend is just the beginning of the holiday shopping push by consumers and will a lot of times extend deals and maintain communication frequency. Your show attendees might not have purchased anything at the show, but leverage post show momentum to capture revenue shortly after by strategic follow up.



Do I envision a day when a b2b trade show opens the door to a stampede of aggressive purchasers literally fighting over who can spend their money on your products? No (as intriguing as that may be), but I think the tactics used in retail consumer marketing to create that buzz can be utilized in b2b to effectively drive revenue.

Analyze your clientele, find out their consumer spending habits, find out what works on them during the holiday sales rush. Chances are, it will work on them in the trade show realm as well.

How to Win at a Healthcare Trade Show With a Smaller Budget


When you walk into the exhibit hall at a healthcare or medical show, you realize right away: There’s a lot of money in this room. Trade show displays at healthcare shows tend to be enormous and elaborate. Meanwhile, your smaller booth is tucked away in one of fifty rows, dwarfed by the major industry players.

Clients often ask us: How can I stand out at medical and other pharma trade shows when I don’t have a six-figure trade show marketing budget? It seems impossible, but it’s not. Here’s what we tell them.


1. Be colorful and bright. 


The visual language of healthcare trade show marketing is colorful, crisp, bright and bold. You may be tempted to swim against the tide and opt instead for a more classic or subdued exhibit design, but we don’t recommend it. You’ll just look like you don’t belong. FrontLine Exhibits’ in-house designer can help you create a custom booth that fits the pharma trade show look and perfectly represents your brand. You don’t need a 30- by 70-foot booth to make a confident statement!


2. Win before the show opens.


“No one knows how big or how small you are when you’re reaching out before the show,” Chase Howells, FrontLine Exhibits’ Senior Account Manager, tells clients. In pre-show marketing, the playing field is level — and that’s when you can score. At least two months before the show, send out mailers. Six weeks beforehand, send out a personalized email campaign. And three weeks before the show, set appointments with your top prospects.


3. Send a surprise. 


When’s the last time you got something fun in the mail? We don’t mean that pack of bamboo toothbrushes you ordered from Amazon, or the BOGO coupon for your neighborhood burger joint, but a genuine surprise. If you want to delight your prospects before the show, mail them something cool that will entice them to come visit your booth. If you want to guarantee they see it, send it via FedEx and make them feel even more special.