Calculating your tradeshow ROI is pretty straightforward. Know how much you spent to do the show. Know how much you made off the show. Do the math.
There are any number of ways to increase the ROI, but it mainly comes down to controlling the main two numbers as much as you can: how much you spend and how much you make.
Whole books have been written about how to put on a great tradeshow exhibit, train your booth staff, use social media to beckon attendees and more. But for the purposes of this article let’s focus on keeping your costs down.
Let’s start with booking your space. By booking early, show organizers will give you a discount. So book early. Book the booth space. Book the electricity, rental carpet, internet, cleaning, whatever. Several months before the event, check the show website and put critical dates in to your calendar. By knowing when the various services are to be booked to get the early discount, you can save a substantial amount of dough.
Bring your own. Exhibiting pros know that when you’re onsite, some of the most expensive things are the cheap things that you should have in your tradeshow survival kit. Extension cords, scissors, felt pens, business cards, phone chargers, extra cables, and so on.
Plan to ship to the advance warehouse. While this is generally a money-saving exercise, it’s not always the case so you may have to do the math. But by shipping to the advance warehouse you’ll often get discounted rates.
Ship only what you need. Here’s where you may have to work with your exhibit house. Many exhibits these days are designed and built to be reconfigured into more than one size. But to make it effective, make sure you ship only what’s going to be set up at the specific show. Your warehouse can help coordinate the proper items. Nothing is more frustrating than setting up at a show knowing that there’s an extra crate that got shipped and you won’t be using what’s inside. Another note on shipping: be scrupulous about how to use the space in your crates. Many times a client will ask us to build some extra compartments into custom-jigged crates so they can ship extra products or samples.
Get rid of items in storage you no longer use. Yes, it may be great to think that you’ll reuse that exhibit from 2011 someday. But probably not. No reason to pay for storage for something that you’ll never use again.
Print only the graphics you need. Tradeshow graphics have a short life. If they last more than one show, it’s because they’re generic or the marketing team is lazy. Or maybe there’s nothing new to promote. In any event, you can save money on graphics a number of ways. Plan on having some of your exhibit graphics designed to be reused for at least a few shows. To save more money, have banner stands or other graphics produced at the show’s city to save shipping costs.