America's Top Tradeshow Directory | Events In America
Facebook Linked In Twitter Videos

Industry Expertise

Share your ideas here about events and the events business.

If you're a thought-leader in the events industry – or you simply want to provide your point of view – you can share your knowledge on Events In America (EIA) by self-publishing articles, stories, ideas, images and blogs. We welcome all relevant content. If you'd like to publish, click the button below to begin the process. There is no cost for publishing your content. You may also upload a photo of yourself or of an event to illustrate a point.

Submit an Article

Share This Article

Views: 2828

Five Ways to Optimize Your 2017 Trade Show Budget

Karin Roberts

You are starting the marketing planning process for 2017. Your company is doing well but targets 5% growth in sales for the coming year, in light of a new product that will launch at the end of this year. 

So you sit down and map out all the trade show events where you will exhibit, sorting them by national and regional shows along with your target audience for each. You prepare this spreadsheet so that when your boss asks what you need to be effective in driving sales for your company in 2017, you can easily share your roadmap to success via trade shows. 

But what if he or she comes back with a challenge like, "That is an awesome plan, but we need to trim it down a bit." Now what do you do? Optimizing your trade show budget can be a tricky thing, especially with costs going up every year. Here are some ideas to help you maximize your efforts.

1. Prioritize the costs and benefits for each show.

Understand all the costs and benefits of each trade show event you are considering and prioritize them. In a 2015 study, Forrester Research estimated that trade show marketing constitutes 14% of the overall marketing budget. So pull out those old notes and review the costs and benefits of the show in prior years. Ask yourself what trends appear for each show. Are more of your ideal prospects attending - or less? 

2.  Evaluate overall show costs.

An overall rule of thumb is that your booth space will be about 1/3 of the total cost of the show. Make sure to take into account all the costs of the space, including the booth itself, drayage, shipping, setup, and staffing costs, travel and time. 

According to the Exhibitor Magazine Economic Forecast 2013, the average trade show budget will include: 

  •        Exhibit space - 36.5%
  •        Exhibit design/construction - 10.8% 
  •        Exhibit shipping - 10.3% 
  •        Show services - 12.2%
  •        Exhibit promotion - 6.1%
  •        Show travel/lodging - 13.5% 
  •        Graphic design/production - 6.0% 
  •        Other exhibit related items - 4.6% 

You should review each show to determine if your costs and budget are in line with these typical percentages. If not, it may be time to rethink your budget and ask yourself how to minimize some of these costs. Can you have fewer people manning the booth? Does it make sense to create a newer, lighter-weight booth to reduce your drayage and shipping costs? Can you update an existing booth by just adding new graphics? 

3. Calculate your return on investment (ROI). 

It is important to figure out your trade show costs versus the number of attendees at each show and the potential return on your investment in sales. The ROI can be calculated by taking the sales revenue generated from trade show leads and dividing it by the total cost of exhibiting at that show. 

Sometimes the ROI calculation is not that simple; as there are many ways to help your company grow their business by 5%, if that is your directive. ROI in actual sales is the easiest way to show results to your corporate team, but if your objective of the show is not to generate leads per se, the returns are harder to calculate. 

Other business goals of a trade show event may include: 

  •        Creating awareness and building your brand 
  •        Enhancing existing client relationships 
  •        Announcing a new product launch 
  •        Learning more about your competition 

When dealing with less tangible returns, it is important to incorporate some hard facts along in the ROI report. For example, "Ted met with our best customer, who plans to increase their purchases during the year by 10%.” 

4. Know the show rules to save on shipping costs. 

It is possible to save hundreds of dollars at your events by understanding the tricks of the trade, most of which deal with the shipping, setup and freight. 

For each show, it is critical to download, read and highlight the show manual. Each show is different in the rules by which they operate. It is up to you to understand those rules and take advantage of potential cost savings. 

Some simple things you can do to minimize your shipping costs are to: 

  •  Ship to advance warehouse, which means that 30 days prior to the show, your booth graphics must be completed so that the booth can ship out on time. 
  •  Include products and supplies with your booth to decrease the number of separate items that must ship to the show location.
  • Take out things not needed for that show. If you don't need three counters for a particular show, don't ship all of them. 
  • Make your freight as lightweight as you can. Fabric graphics help keep the shipping weight down. 
  • Minimize your material handing (drayage fees). This is calculator can help you figure out your drayage costs. Play around with the numbers and you will be surprised at the difference in costs between advance warehouse and direct shipping. 

5. Solidify your client relationships and market position.

Attendees to trade shows are serious about purchasing and solidifying relationships with their vendors. That means that trade shows are here to stay as an important marketing tool. According to Regalix Research on the State of B2B Marketing, trade shows were the most effective offline distribution channel for accomplishing marketing goals, with 84% of respondents putting events (exhibitions, conferences, trade shows, etc.) in the top spot for effectiveness. 

The key to success is matching your business objectives to your target market and show selections, while maximizing your budget. For more information on budgeting and ROI, download a free guide on “How to Profit from Trade Show Due Diligence and Planning." 

-- by Karin Roberts, The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group

__________________________________________________________ is a comprehensive directory of tradeshows, conferences, meetings and conventions in the USA and Canada. Search for free to find extensive details on thousands of upcoming shows. Add your event at no charge to get higher visibility, promotional value and leads from potential exhibitors and attendees. Click here to see an example of an event listing on Add your Partner page to our list of trusted industry suppliers and venue operators. Add your Event Planner page to our list of trusted event and meeting planners.

New: Now Get Exhibitor Lists from


Share This Article

Preferred Partners
Consider these Preferred Partners for your events:

AMP Audio Visual
SmartSource Rentals
Armodilo Display Solutions

Celebrity Talents to Enhance Your Event

Book Celebrity Talent
Book Celebrity Talent and Speakers
Celebrity Talents to Enhance Your Event

Booth and Exhibit Designers
Epic Displays
Watson Productions
ACI Design
Grapevine Visual Concepts
The TradeShow Network Marketing Group
EZ Backdrops, Inc
Signworld America
3DA Display
Diper Exhibitions
Infinity Exhibits

Dick's Last Resort San Antonio

Computer & Technology Rentals
SmartSource Rentals

Educational Content Development
Jason Kiesau

All Things Speaking
Dave Davlin

Event & Meeting Planners
Corporate Dimensions LTD

Event Labor
AF Services, Inc.

Event Management Software
ShowGo Software
Conferences i/o

Event Media
EMC Events, a division of EMC Outdoor
Conferences i/o

Event & Meeting Planners
Origin Event Planning
American Conference Marketing
Plan Ahead Events Nashville South
Liz King Events

Event Webcasting

Experiential & Event Marketing Agencies
Watson Productions
Headshot Photo Lounge, Event Photography, Hashtag printing
EMC Events, a division of EMC Outdoor

Furniture Rentals
Diper Exhibitions

Hotels & Conference Facilities
The Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village
Hilton Orange County / Costa Mesa
Hilton Minneapolis / St. Paul Airport Mall of America
Hilton Fort Worth
Marriott Plaza San Antonio
Hilton Boston Back Bay
Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan Midtown West
Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia
Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel
Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel
Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel
Sugar Land Marriott Town Square

Independent Sales Representation
RepHunter, Inc

Language Translation Services
International Simultaneous Interpreters

Marketing Services
Jim Nowakowski

Photography Services
Khaaliq Thomas Photography
Headshot Photo Lounge, Event Photography, Hashtag printing

Premium Items/Giveaways
Sweet Wrappings

Printing Services

Professional and Motivational Speakers
Dave Davlin
Speakers Bureau
SpeakerMatch - The World's Largest Speakers Bureau
Kathy Gruver, PhD
The Productivity Experts
Jim Nowakowski
John Mattone-Global, Inc.
Book Celebrity Talent and Speakers
David Morey - Speaker/Author/Strategist and Performer
All Things Speaking
Jason Kiesau
Enes Smith Presents - The Body Language of Like

Public Relations Agencies
ThePRFreelancer, Inc.

Security Services
AF Services, Inc.

Seminar Organizers/Producers
John Mattone-Global, Inc.


Trade Show Booth Traffic Builders
Sweet Wrappings
Corporate Dimensions LTD

Travel Services
Book Your Trip

Dick's Last Resort San Antonio

Video Production
AMP Audio Visual