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There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction. - John F. Kennedy
How much should I spend on a tradeshow display?
That’s a question we hear frequently. Or, sometimes we hear – “How can I spend as little as possible on my display.” Those questions are hard to answer because they are the wrong questions to ask.
The underlying concern that often drives those questions is a fear of spending too much on a trade show display. We think the real danger is spending too little!
At Agility, we believe that your trade show display should be one small, but integral, part of your long-term marketing strategy and its cost should not be evaluated in isolation. The real question to ask yourself is what is the return on investment (ROI) of your tradeshow strategy as a whole. Your display will be part of the cost side of that question, but it will be less than airfare, travel expenses, drayage, exhibit space, staffing, meals and entertainment, and the opportunity costs of participating in a show.
The last thing you want to do is to invest heavily in a trade show and try to contain costs by designing an exhibit or booth that doesn’t garner the attention and interest that will contribute to that ROI. And, it really is all about the ROI.
One way to address the question of how to maximize your ROI is to spend time before the show identifying specific, quantifiable outcome targets. Months before the show, your sales team and marketing team should begin crafting the messaging for the show and how success will be measured. The number of business cards collected is an imperfect metric for assessing the success of a show. The real goal of the show is new business.
In a Multi Briefs article, Lee Ali reported the following sobering percentages about companies exhibiting at trade shows.
What we’re advocating is that there should be a well-designed game plan with everyone on your team knowing their exact role. Write down those expectations and how they will be measured. One critical aspect of this phase is to have a strict policy that all your staff memorialize each day’s activities in detail. These day sheets should be compiled after the show and evaluated for what worked and what didn’t. Based on that, the strategy for the next show can be fine-tuned. It’s the basic quality improvement cycle of Plan > Act > Evaluate > Repeat.
When it comes to asking how much to spend on that display or booth, always remember that spending too little may adversely impact the overall ROI of the show. Of course, you don’t want to spend too much either! That’s why Agility is here to help you identify a range of options to help make your show a true success.