Take the Pain Out of Your 2013 Trade Show Budget

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Photo: stock.xchng / catalin82

Photo: stock.xchng / catalin82

Budgets. It’s one of those things that ranks right up there with a root canal when it comes to sending shivers up your spine, right?

The truth is that it doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, with a few simple steps taken and time spent at the beginning of the year, you’ll be on the path to truly maximizing your exhibit investments.

While smart budgeting doesn’t mean you simply throw numbers together, it doesn’t demand that you have to worry about every penny spent either. Remember a budget isn’t set in stone. It simply serves as a guideline that can be adjusted as your exhibit plan progresses throughout the year.

Why is having an exhibit marketing budget so important? First of all, it helps keep you on track and also shows you where the money is going. (That’s good news for you … and for those within your company who write the checks!)

So how do you begin setting a trade show budget? Even if you’ve never created one before, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. One common school of thought is to take whatever you’re paying for booth space and triple it to get your estimated total budget. Another guideline is the CEIR report, “How the Exhibit Dollar is Spent,” which gives a breakdown of typical budgets. (Learn more in this previous post.) Note that neither of these methods are foolproof and there are numerous ways to save without sacrificing results. In fact, we’ll cover dozens of those suggestions in the Exhibit Marketers Café in January!

Remember everything in budgeting is a trade-off. When unexpected expenses happen in one category, you must know where else you can adjust to accommodate … and where you’re not willing to cut corners. You may need to go line-by-line to discover what are your biggest ROI factors, which deserve a larger chunk of your budget. And be sure to compare your projected numbers to what you actually spend to learn from experience and make next year’s budgeting even easier.

© 2002-2012 Marlys K. Arnold (from the December 2012 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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