August 4, 2015
Tradeshows on a Budget
As a small non-profit organization, it seems like everything is competing for a piece of our budget. When it comes to promoting Rockville as a great place to do business, there are a lot of ways we could use our limited dollars to achieve that goal.
So when it comes to fairly expensive tradeshow opportunities, are they worth the cost? My short answer to that is “it depends”!
There are a number of factors that will help decide if you should or should not invest in attending a tradeshow:
- Does the event target a growth industry in your community?
- Can you partner with other entities to help increase your visibility and/or decrease your costs?
- Will there be enough attendees to make it worth the time and effort to plan and attend?
- Is it worth your time out of the office to physically attend the show?
If the answer is “yes” to these (and probably other) questions, then it’s worth the money, time and effort. Tradeshows offer access to dozens, hundreds, or thousands of potential clients in one location. If you market yourself well, and are willing to put in the time talking to and meeting a LOT of new people and promoting your region, then the rewards could very well be great for your community.
Back to the issue of cost, what do you do about a “giveaway” item? Some folks do nothing – others spend thousands of dollars. I generally like to have some type of unique giveaway (this year, we gave away ear buds with a carrying case) that will draw people to your booth and at least gives you an opportunity to talk to them – without costing an arm and a leg! But it’s definitely a useful tool for starting a conversation with complete strangers.
Partnering with others is also a great way to save on cost. If you can’t afford your own booth space, look for others who will be there and see if you can attend to help them staff the booth (i.e., if you work for a City, see if your County or State will have a presence). That way you’ll only have travel & lodging costs, but can still promote your specific area. Or see if there are private sector entities who would benefit from being at the show and would be willing to share costs with you.
In the end, if a tradeshow makes sense for you, carefully consider the best and most cost-effective way of attending to make sure that you come home with a positive return on your investment!
–Laurie M. Boyer, CEcD