When planning a foray into trade show marketing, drayage and donuts aren’t typically the first words you put on the whiteboard. And that’s for good reason; a great trade show exhibit is so much more than the sum of its parts. Before diving into the details, your primary goal should be conceiving an experience that tells your brand’s story in a way that’s immersive, interactive, and inspiring.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the details aren’t important. Many a marketer has gone over budget because they weren’t prepared for the specifics they found on the invoice. A great plan doesn’t start with the nitty gritty budget details, but it definitely includes them.
After nearly 30 years in this business, we know that trade show marketing success means aligning your budgetary expectations with reality. Read on to discover the simple metaphor that helps our clients wrap their minds around the complex cost structure of live marketing — from drayage to donuts and everything in between .
It’s Not a Booth; It’s a Show
We’ve heard it before — typically from executives looking at an exhibiting estimate.
“It’s just a booth. How could some plywood and a few brochures cost so much? I could build it myself for less!”
Beware of this line of thinking. Those who view a trade show booth as a “thing” to be built are missing the point of experiential: captivating moments of wonder that connect customer and brand.
They’re also missing the logistical masterclass that makes those moments possible. Any given trade show involves 500-plus companies, hundreds of tons of materials, three days of setup, and thousands of guests converging in a single space to enjoy it.
From the show runner who accepts your company’s registration to the folks who vacuum the floor, trade show marketing is a complex clockwork of interlocking elements — some physical, some intangible, all essential. Internet technicians, skilled laborers, electricians, forklift drivers, and countless others perform their roles in synchronized scurry — all to create that magical moment when guests step out of the everyday and into your brand’s story.
The first step in achieving trade show marketing success is realizing that a booth is not a booth. It’s a show. Once you understand that, you’re ready to conceive a show that knocks your customers’ socks off — and start planning all the details involved in making it happen.
Ready for more? Download “This is Not a Booth,” the first in our series of guides to all things trade show budgeting. From Installation & Dismantle to Internet and Inventory, we’re packing all the cost info trade show marketers need to know into one handy set of guides.