5 Ways to Maximise Your Event with a Small Budget

Published by Aimee Boschier | 08/10/2019

Man putting coins into ceramic piggy bank

One part of the exhibition process is establishing how much budget you have to spend, and as we are aware, exhibitions aren’t cheap! So, it is worth identifying how you can still create impact, when you have a small budget. And yes, it is possible! We go through 5 different ways you can maximise the effectiveness of your event, even when you don’t have the cash to splash!

1. Plan in Advance

Person making planning notesThere’s a reason why we’re encouraged to plan in advance – it keeps us in control of our situation and gives us time to consider all angles. So advanced planning means you can bag yourself the best stand space!  A lot of trade shows run on a first come first serve basis, so it’s ideal to get ahead of the competition. And it will give you time to promote and book meetings with either current customers, or potential clients.

Furthermore, it will give you the opportunity to look at what areas will see the most traffic and footfall, where the entrance to the event is, and what your surroundings are:

  • Entrances and Exits – A hit or miss area; visitors may just walk past to get to another area or to leave.
  • Cafes and Networking Areas – Heavy traffic areas but be prepared to work hard to get the passing visitor attention.
  • Near Competitors’ Spaces – Whilst it may seem like a dangerous choice, you may benefit from the footfall your competitors’ get, especially if you’re offering something unique or different!
  • Near Walls, Pillars etc. – Anything that will block visibility of your stand will decrease the footfall. However, if this is all you have left, design a display that will work around the obstruction.

What’s more, sometimes organisers will offer early bird discount prices, so book in advance to take advantage. Or play the waiting game and choose to book very late to bag yourself a space at a bargain price (organisers don’t want to have empty booth space on their show floor).

Remember to think about your display too. If your supplier offers a prebuild, although at a cost, it may save you money and stress in the long run. It will help you identify any problems with your display in advance, before you get to the event. Otherwise, anything that requires rectifying on site is likely to cost you much more.

2. Choosing Location

Someone holding a mapIdentifying your event, and its location will determine how much budget you should set aside for travel costs. Not just for your staff, but for your display too! If your event is far away, ensure you have enough budget to accommodate your event team – and think about how they’re going to get there. Use comparison sites to ensure you are getting the best prices for accommodation and travel. If you’re looking to maximise your budget, why not attend and exhibit events that are closer to home?

Next, your display. How are you going to get your display to its location? Transport is just one of the many reasons that more people are now opting for a modular solution. Easy to pack down and can easily fit into the back of a car. A simple and easy solution that can be transported with ease.

Also, decide whether you’ll need to hire labour to build your display, or if you can do it yourself. Self-build solutions, such as the T3 modular display system, are a good option and will help you to control your budget.

3. Marketing Your Event


digital marketing

There is lots to take advantage of with marketing your event that won’t cost you big bucks. Most events provide opportunity for exhibitors to upload profile information, web links, social accounts and images or video for visitors to check out prior to the event. This is either free or included in your exhibitor package costs. Make sure you take full advantage of it.

Additionally, social media is an ideal way to create some noise around your participation. And, it’s free! Make sure you use the relevant event hashtags as well as your industry hashtags and include information about the show, dates and your stand location. Create a content plan for pre-show and for live updates whilst at the show, including good reasons why visitors should stop by your stand.

Furthermore, why not send personalised emails to your client and prospect databases? Emailing is a cost-effective channel to reach your interested audience and, depending on your list size, can be free. Again, provide good reasons why your audience should come to visit you and if appropriate to your event, encourage them to pre-book appointments with you at the show.

4. Opting for Modular

Person building a modular displayOver recent years, modular displays have become increasingly popular within exhibitions. There are many reasons for this, including sustainability, ease of use, convenience of transportation and more. Perhaps one of the key reasons is the level of design capability now achievable with modular systems.

They are also a great cost-effective option, especially if you’re sticking to a strict budget. Since 1998, the cost of an exhibition stand design and construction has shrunk dramatically, dropping from 23% to 11%. And mainly due to the rise in affordable exhibit systems(1).

One of the great benefits of modular displays is that they don’t have to be throwaways. With a well-chosen modular exhibition stand, you can reuse your display as many times as you’d like. There is even the option to reconfigure your framework to fit different locations and different applications! Opting for a modular solution means you can use exactly the same kit at multiple exhibitions in different sized spaces, you may simply need to pay for new graphics.

However, if purchasing a display is still a bit of steep cost, why not rent? At half the price it will save you money and storage! Great if you’re using the display for one show and don’t need the stand again.

5. Designing Your Display

Person drawing a display design

You’ve got your space and some ideas for your display, but an important way to maximise your event when you haven’t got the biggest budget is to eliminate anything that won’t be necessary. Think about must-have rather than nice-to-have! Remember, whatever you decide to take with you needs to be transported to the venue. Ask yourself, how will it help you achieve your objectives and help you succeed at your exhibition.

When it comes to designing your display, there are lots of ways to create maximum impact without over-spending. You need a balance between the functional requirements of your display space and having enough space to talk to visitors!

  • Small space? Opt for a lightbox to illuminate your brand message
  • Use counters to space save – store personal belongings underneath a counter to save space on your stand and to reduce cost on cloakrooms at events
  • Use shelving to showcase products – without taking up any additional stand space
  • Use creative lighting – even on the simplest of stand designs, it’s worth the money to incorporate lighting to highlight your product or service.
  • Leave the promo items at home – if it’s a choice between a display design that gets you noticed and talking to people or giving out pens and stress balls, then the must-haves and nice-to-haves really do come into play.

These are just some of our ideas, but there are lots more design features that will take a display to the next level. (See more here).

A final thought – don’t underestimate the importance of preparing your stand staff team ahead of your event. Small budget doesn’t have to mean small result. Take the time to get your team on board with what needs to be achieved. Next time you might be able to get the pens and stress balls too!

Hopefully these tips can set you on your way to having a great event, even with a smaller budget. Remember to follow up with your leads and track your event’s performance to understand the impact your show has had.

If you need further advice, give our team a call. Let’s see what we can do for you. 

1. https://www.exhibitoronline.com/topics/article.asp?ID=2207


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