8 Ways to Get More Bang Out of Your Trade Show Marketing Bucks

Here’s a fact about trade shows: they’re a terrific way to get your company’s offering in front of prospects and connect with qualified leads.

Here’s another fact: they ain’t cheap to attend.image of woman stretching a dollar bill

Between the hotels rooms, travel expenses, booth fees and exhibit costs, you sometimes have to wonder whether you’re getting enough of a return on your investment.

If you know your business can benefit from trade show marketing but are having a hard time justifying the expense, here are 8 ways you can cut costs and get more bang for your marketing bucks:

1. Use Social Media to Save on Advertising

If you’re not leveraging the power of social media you’re leaving money on the table.

Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook offer cheap, if not completely free, ways to announce your next exhibit and connect with other professionals who may also be attending the event.

2. Market through the Event Itself

Typically, most trade shows offer free press release distribution and you should take advantage of this.

Many shows will also list a complimentary description of exhibitors on their website.

These are two great and free ways to get your name out there before the event.

3. Bring Your Own Supplies

You may think it’s just easier to rent supplies and add-ons at the trade show, but they usually charge you through the teeth for things like tape, scissors, and (normally inexpensive) office supplies.

You can actually save quite a bit of money by running to Wal-Mart or Kmart to pick these items up.

Then you can keep them and bring them to future shows with you. (You do have a trade show emergency kit, don’t you?!)

4. Go Paperless

If you like the idea of printing and handing out brochures, you’ll love the idea of flushing money down the toilet.

Here’s the truth: most of your brochures are going to wind up directly in the trash can without being read.

Can you think of a bigger waste of your budget?

A smarter, cheaper and more Eco-friendly idea is to go paperless and ask leads for their email address so you can send them relevant product information after the show.

This does two things:

  1. you don’t have to worry about attendees losing your contact info because you now have theirs, and
  2. you now have the perfect excuse to follow-up with them after the event.

5. Don’t Just Give Away Your Giveaways

Do you know what one of the biggest budget suckers is?

All of those freebies and giveaways you giveaway, which is why you may have noticed some fellow exhibitors are no longer giving away giveaways.

These items don’t generally excite the attendees and they end up getting tossed or relegated to that utility drawer in the kitchen where they’ll never see the light of day again.

If you are different and actually have a really great giveaway and you want to keep giving it away, that’s fine, but we would suggest you don’t just giveaway your giveaway to every warm body that walks by your booth.

Custom eSmart Inline Convertible to (2) 10x10s. Features Vinyl Woven Panels, Lockable Storage, Puck Lighting, Monitor Mounts, and Modified ECO-31C Counter

Custom Eco-Friendly eSmart Inline, converts to (2) 10x10s. Features Vinyl Woven Panels, Lockable Storage, Puck Lighting, Monitor Mounts, and Modified ECO-31C Counter

Instead, save them for leads that are actually qualified and have shown real interest.

You might also want to trade in the whole idea of the more common giveaways and instead raffle off an item of higher value.

Giving away an iPad will be much more memorable and actually cost less than the 10,000 stress balls you normally order.

6. Exhibit at Fewer Shows

There’s no better way to get more bang for your trade show marketing bucks than if you only exhibit at the right shows.

Attending fewer shows not only cuts your booth space rental costs, it also lowers your shipping, travel and promotional costs as well.

How do you determine which shows are right for your company?

6.5 Measure your results.

  1. Which shows did not meet your objectives or had a low turnout?
  2. Which shows were a terrible match between audience members and your target market?
  3. Which shows gave you the greatest ROI?
  4. Which shows are close and which are too far away?

Stop throwing money away on under-performing shows and only spend your money on the ones that are giving you results. Thoroughly track and analyze your results.

You can then take these savings and put them toward the shows that are producing leads and sales.

7. Get More Value from Your Booth Staffing

Booth staffing is one of the greatest expenses and there are ways you can lower these costs.

The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is to bring fewer people with you to staff the booth.

Choose only those people who really want to be at the event and who actually add value.

Second, do your best to plan as far in advance as you can. This will help you get better deals on hotels and airfare.

8. Save on Shipping

You no doubt often have to ship a lot of “stuff” to get your booth prepared ahead of time, but there are ways you can cut down on your shipping costs.

The earlier you ship the more able you’ll be to go ground instead of last-minute airfreight which will save you a ton. (This may seem obvious, but we unfortunately see LOTS of exhibitors ordering displays and accessories at the last minute, and paying for expedited shipping – which is 2X – 5X the cost of ground shipping.)

Don't wait until the last minute to ship your trade show supplies! Click To Tweet

When planning on which shows to attend, try to stagger them just right so you can ship from one show to the next instead of having to ship everything back to your facility and then out to the next event.

Consider demoing fewer products. Not only will this cut down on shipping costs but it will also make the products you are demoing more memorable.

And finally, you may find that some of your shows are close enough that you can drive there and haul your display and products. You’ll save on plane fare and shipping at the same time.


There’s simply no denying that trade shows are a great way to market your business and reach a large group of potential buyers all at one time.

There’s also no denying that exhibiting costs can add up quickly. If you take an honest and realistic look at your current operating costs, see where you can make some trims, and plan ahead as much as possible, you should absolutely be able to ensure successful trade shows while getting a solid return on your investment.

Another element that helps guarantee success is a great trade show exhibit. If your booth is lacking in its ability to attract attention and communicate your message, let American Image Displays help you select a fantastic trade show booth design that helps you make a terrific impression on the show floor.

For more information, call us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected].

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