By Robyn at WINH
It’s no secret that exhibiting can be expensive, but with a little strategic creativity, it won’t be hard to make a big impact at OTC (regardless of your budget)… here’s how:
1. Plan ahead to avoid unnecessary fees and enjoy available incentives.
Many event-related products/services offer multiple deadlines, at progressively increasing price points. If you can confirm your decisions “early,” you can enjoy substantial savings (avoiding the late fees or rush shipping charges assessed to other exhibitors who confirm “on time” or “late”).
Also, ask your vendors if you’re eligible for any special incentives. For example, many companies will provide a cost reduction when you pay in full, make a multi-show commitment, or refer a friend… this isn’t a guarantee for all vendors; but, as they say, “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”
2. Reallocate funds away from investments that won’t significantly impact your results.
You already know you shouldn’t invest in anything that can’t help you accomplish your event-specific goals, but what about the items that are more neutral? If they’re unlikely to make a significant impact on your exhibiting results, this is another category where you can save easily.
For example, items like trash cans and plants are what I’d call “luxury items” because they’re nice to have, but in most cases, wouldn’t be missed if they weren’t there. If you really want to streamline your budget, cut these out and reallocate the money saved to more meaningful needs.
3. Don’t scrimp on the necessities; splurge on items your audience will appreciate the most.
Switching gears a little… Now that you have some extra room in your budget (thanks to the first two steps), it’s time to shift your focus to smart purchases. In order to prioritize your spending, imagine you could only have one thing in your booth space and that thing would be responsible for your entire attendee experience/event ROI (return on investment). What should it be?
If I had to choose (without knowing anything about you), I’d say prioritize your team. Your audience needs them to be the right mix of knowledgeable and nice to enjoy their experience (and, ultimately, to help you achieve your exhibiting goals). Necessities, then, include travel, lodging, attire, and training, to name a few.
Spend a little more in these areas to help your team feel comfortable enough to do their best work in representing you… but don’t spend so much that it’s not about your audience anymore (after all, there’s a difference between comfort and luxury – once you cross that line, it’s much easier to forget the real purpose of participating: to serve your audience and accomplish your event-specific goals).
4. Respect your budget, especially when you have to tweak it.
If you haven’t done so already, sit down today to determine your budget for OTC. This should be a living document (which means you know it may need to change later on) with clear guidelines for your decision making process.
To ensure your guidelines respect the work put into determining your original budget, focus on two areas: your exhibiting priorities (so that you don’t gain irrelevant components at the expense of essentials) and your key stakeholders (so that any decisions made “stick”). Be as clear as you can in writing your guidelines, as any additional changes may need to be made quickly and/or at the last minute, but can still have the same impact as if they were made earlier with more time for processing.
5. Identify even more ways to prove the value of your participation in OTC.
Many exhibitors have the same big goals for trade shows: generate leads, raise awareness, strengthen relationships, etc. However, with the right strategic efforts, the value you obtain can be much greater and, if your ultimate goal is to generate a real return as a result of your participation, every little piece of value can add up quickly!
For example, here are a few other ways you can generate value:
- Media Coverage: Instead of buying more ad space to maintain your momentum in the coming months, what if you could get an equivalent amount of “earned” media coverage through your presence and engagement efforts at OTC?
- Team Building: Instead of taking your team to an escape room or fancy dinner, what if they could feel closer and more fulfilled (increasing employee satisfaction and retention) through their teamwork at OTC?
- Market Research: Instead of hiring a focus group to get to know your target audience better, what if you could learn about their needs and interests through casual conversation (or more structured surveying) during OTC?
- Content Creation: Instead of spending a few hours per week creating content, what if your team could get inspired by the OTC attendees and agenda to create plenty of content at OTC to share well after this event is over?
In the end, even if exhibiting at a trade show like OTC seems expensive, remember that it can pay for itself many times over, with the right strategic actions. Follow the steps above to maximize your exhibiting budget by reducing irrelevant and unnecessary expenses, increasing your value-oriented investments, and remembering your true purpose for participating every step of the way.