Tag Archives: Economic Downturn


This month we look at practical tips on cutting or conserving your trade show and special events budget:

Click here to review last month’s article: “7 Reasons Why Trade Shows Are (Even More) Important in A Down Economy”.

1. Be more selective. Focus on shows and events that bring in your best prospects, not necessarily the most prospects. Drop those with the least impact or which no longer match your goals.

2. Look for and negotiate better rates for exhibiting at shows. Show promoters need to keep their numbers up and they want to keep you happy and on board.

3. If you cannot negotiate a lower rate for a show, negotiate for add-ons at no or lowered cost. For instance, ask for reduced or waived charges for pre-show mailing or emailing lists, and use them to your advantage in inviting both clients and prospects. This is a win-win for you and the show. (Please, see bonus item #11 below)

4. Consider renting a booth if you’re new to trade shows and exhibit in 3 or less a year.

5. Consider buying accessories instead of renting, if you exhibit often. You can get tiled or rolled carpet, for the price of one or two carpet rentals. We can even get them for you with a logo.

6. Downsize with highly portable tension fabric displays.
Create dramatic impact in reduced sized booth space, with:

. Drastically reduced weight (lowering shipping/drayage costs)
. Greater flexibility in design (so they can be adapted with specific messages for different shows at least cost),
. Increased ease of use in setting up (potentially eliminating or reducing I&D costs)

These products have doubled in sales over the last year as a result.

Some examples of fabric display options

7. Reduce shipping of marketing materials. Remember most of it gets thrown out. Use literature racks like the Zedup so you can offer single page marketing slicks to casual visitors in the front-facing pockets, and stash more expensive packets in the back to be given only to your best prospects. Or you might not bring packets at all, and offer to mail instead.

8. Plan ahead and eliminate rush fees. Everything costs more, the closer you get to the show date. Be sure to check your show manual early, create a schedule and stick to it. Cost over-runs will no doubt be looked at more closely than ever.

9. Look at reducing staff related expenses – for example, setting up per diem spending limits. In an era of possible layoffs, staff will be amenable to not looking like they are spendthrifts. On the other hand, be careful of going too far and destroying morale.

10. Your prospects and clients may well focus on attending smaller, more local shows and conferences. You can too.

11. Bonus! Remember those pre-show mailing/emailing lists? Offer a white paper or case study or other valuable item to those who attend – and then offer the same thing after the show to those who were unable to participate. You will be able to connect with additional qualified prospects who could not get approval to attend the event, and they will appreciate your gesture.



To Exhibit or Not To Exhibit?

Sometimes, people reconsider exhibiting at trade shows during economic downturns, either to ‘cut costs’ or out of concern that ‘fewer people are attending, so it won’t be worth our while’.

Let’s start by remembering the fundamental reasons why trade shows and events are key to marketing and sales:

Trade shows and events provide concentrated face-to-face interactions with a large pool of likely prospects and existing customers at one time.

This has been documented to speed up time-to-purchase, as well as decrease the number and cost of sales touch-points needed to close the sale.

Our #1 reason to exhibit is taking advantage of the lower total cost per sale that trade shows and events offer.

But what about concerns that the number of attendees will drop?

Stop to think a moment, and ask yourself who is not coming – and who still is?  This will give you the next 2 reasons why trade shows are often even more effective during slowdowns:

#2 If budgets are cut, there will be a lot fewer tire kickers in your booth to waste your time.  Those who make it through budget and travel hoops to attend are more likely to be  qualified prospects that have come to the show with genuine needs, looking for new ideas and proven solutions.

#3 You will have more time to spend with visitors to your booth and be able to present better-targeted information. This means fewer, but better interactions with your prospects.

How else can trade shows be even more important in a downturn?

#4 Your prospects and clients may take note of who seems to need to retrench when times get tough, and who looks like they’re in it for the long haul.

#5 When other companies are cutting back, you can increase your relative exposure – and mindshare – to build market share.

#6 If you pay attention to your lead nurturing process, you can go beyond ‘low hanging fruit’ and plant the seeds for future purchases. Nurturing relationships when times are tough creates a foundation for expansion when things improve.

And the most important reason to stick with exhibiting at trade shows during a downturn?

#7 Chances are, your prospects are being asked to slow down their spending and justify every purchase. They will have to take more time to research more carefully.

Your best strategy to deal with the reality of a lengthening sales cycle is to respond with the in-depth information and personal experience that signal a safe decision.

Trade shows provide a cost-effective way to provide targeted data, demonstrations, case studies, testimonials, and other person-to-person reassurance necessary to turn a prospect into a customer in this kind of a sales climate.

Next month, in part 2 of this series, we will tackle strategies to minimize costs while maximizing results in exhibiting at trade shows during a down economy.