What You Should Know about Exhibit Planning
- Start the planning process early and assign someone to handle the schedule
- Create a budget that reflects the true costs of exhibiting
- Select the right size exhibit for your budget and marketing goals
- Trade shows can be expensive, but it’s not difficult to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI)
“Build it and they will come”– This phrase should be your mantra when designing your trade show booth. With a carefully designed booth, you stand a much better chance of attracting potential clients, making sales, gathering contacts, and generally spreading the word about your company. Think of your booth as a microcosm of your business.
Planning and Budgeting
It is best to plan early. Assign one person to be in charge of timetables and scheduling. Assign another person to draw up the budget and to define the marketing goals. This person will have to account for the cost of renting or buying a booth, the cost of accessories such as literature racks, as well as travel expenses. Travel expenses will vary depending upon the location and duration of your stay. If you decide to rent, you should expect to budget:
- 25% on renting your booth space
- 20% on design and graphics
- 15% on electrical, cleaning, and drayage
- 10% on shipping materials to and from the trade show
- 10% on press kits and preshow promotions
- 20% on staffing, travel, and other miscellaneous expenses
If you decide to purchase an exhibit, you will want to work with a professional exhibit designer. Most exhibit distributors have a designer on staff or rely on their exhibit manufacturer to supply design and rendering services. You will need to follow the rules and regulations on booth design for your particular show as well as observing basics such as fire, electrical, and safety codes and providing wheelchair accessibility. Rely on your exhibit designer who understands these requirements.
When considering the dimensions of your booth, you will want to take into account the number of booth staffers, as well as account for kiosks, counters, conference rooms, and the storage of materials. Be sure your design allows for free flow of attendee traffic in and around your booth. Remove any obstacles at the designing stage. Kali Pearson, writing in Profit Magazine, reminds exhibitors to “Keep your traffic objective in mind. For instance, if you are there to demonstrate a new product, erect walls that force passers-by to cluster at the front of your booth.” Keep your booth from getting too busy and complex, so people are not confused or overwhelmed by your booth. As a rule of thumb, your exhibit space should resemble a well-organized party and not a crowded disco.
A 10 x 10 booth is sufficient for a small business. At 100 square feet, you can accommodate at least four people at once, two staffers and two attendees. Consider a 10 x 20 for a medium business, and islands for a larger business. The size of the booth, however, depends on your goals and products. At a trade show, size matters, but it should complement, not dictate, your exhibit marketing goals.
Think of your both as a three dimensional advertisement for your company. You should include your company’s colors wherever possible, unless you are using a theme that necessitates certain colors. It is also a good idea to display the company logo as prominently as possible. You will want to coordinate the flooring with the rest of your booth, either by renting carpet from the show decorator or purchasing more upscale solutions such as hardwood flooring, raised flooring, or cushion flooring.
In order to both conserve space and add an exciting look to your booth, display your literature in a literature rack. Audio/Video presentations have become commonplace and affordable for any size exhibit. These allow show attendees to participate in the booth experience and learn more about your company. Large screen monitors are perfect for product demos, interactive videos, or entertaining promotions. Like a moth to a light bulb, show attendees are instantly drawn to professionally produced videos.
For more information, be sure to consult with an exhibit designer or trade show professional. Participating in trade shows can be expensive but it is not difficult to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI) with the right planning and expertise.