Whether you are in an enterprise company or you are chief marketer and refuse transportation manager of your own business, budgeting is tough. In many ways is attempting to predict the future. Few do this well, but it's helpful to get a picture of the year ahead will look like to see what is possible.
PART I - Execution
For some the "budget" is set and it is more in the execution and leveraging of this resource that will make the diffence in a so-so year and a "clark griswald yearend bonus for a swimming pool" type of year. If your budget dollars, the shows / conferences you are attending are fixed and your message(s) is clear then here are few ideas to help on the execution side:
- Now - Now is the time if allowed to lock in discounts and other incentives offered by the trade show companies. From booth space (the earlier you book your space to drayage (physically getting your display to your booth space) Generally, early means the better your location on the exhibit floor. This also applies to transportation, hotels, hospitality and any events you may be creating for clients and prospects during the show. Even costs like expedicted shipping to the show can add $500 to a $2500 to costs based on the size of your display and accessories. Being early has the potential to stretch your budget by as much as 30-40% depending on the show, city and audience you are trying to reach.
- Train - Begin early training booth staff on message, how to handle different situations and what is expected of them during the show. These can be monthly lunch and learn opportunities. Pizza and positioning for example. The better you are all on the same page the greater impact of exhibiting at your show and leveraging your budget. Practice, practice and more practice. Also, be ready for unexpected things to happen as they will. Creatively consider these and brainstorm with your team as to how you will address or fix these. You could even be like our friends at NASA and stage your show at your office and have your "show people" do a walk through. It can be time well spent especially for folks new to exhibiting. Training will help you behave more like a team at the trade show and likely you will be happier with the results.
- Feedback - As you go through the year make sure you have a feedback loop or system in place to make sure you are not making the same mistakes at every show hurting the effectiveness of the entire year and maybe shortening the lifespan of your trade show budget. Potentially even in to next year and coming years. If you want the feedback to be transparent just have a place on your facebook, linkedin or other social media platform for posting comments. Or if you want the reviews to be more private then set up and email account free or as part of your corporate account to email feedback to a manager or someone who can act on the information. You can set up a free google gmail account (eg. firstname.lastname@example.org) and all comments can go to this account. The key is making sure you make the changes to improve trade show performance at the next show.
These are a few ideas to execute well this year, expecially if your trade show budget is approved and you just want to make the most of the resources you have. Happy exhibiting!