Your guide to a budget-friendly exhibition stand

You’ve probably already realised the business benefits of putting on a stand at a trade show or exhibition; the opportunity to engage with and show off your work to your target audience and network with others in your industry. However, it can also be an expensive endeavour, so let us guide you towards some budget-friendly ways to exhibit at a show, without compromising on the quality. 

Define your goals and create a budget

The costs involved in having a stand at an exhibition can quickly escalate, and so a budget is crucial. The planning process is important in determining your budget so make sure yours is as comprehensive as possible. Start by clearly defining your goals for the exhibition, and then you can work out your budget in line with those goals. Categorise your expenses into essentials – which might include the exhibition stand, venue rental, permits, basic marketing, and the non-essentials, things that would be nice to have but not vital.

Your exhibition stand or booth will likely be the most significant expense at around 40% of your budget. This depends on the specification of the stand, its design and construction, and any associated costs. You’ll then need to consider the expenditures related to the venue, staff and their travel and accommodation, which will account for up to 20% of the budget. Other costs will include marketing materials, permits, insurance and so on.

Plan efficiently and comprehensively

The better and earlier you plan, the less likely you are to encounter any unnecessary expenses and the more likely you can take advantage of early-bird discounts on services. We recommend at least 9 months to plan before an event date.

Create a detailed timeline that outlines all tasks leading up to the exhibition—from securing permits to liaising with your exhibition stand provider, organising marketing material and social media publicising to setting up the display; make sure you’ve covered everything. That way, additional, unexpected costs don’t creep in and blow your budget. Let us know if you need any help with planning.

Make the most of partnerships and sponsorships

Are partnerships something you might consider? Collaborating with local businesses, sponsors, or similar organisations means that you can share costs and resources. Look for partnerships that share your audience demographics and complement your exhibition theme. You could forge relationships with local businesses and vendors for services at a reduced cost in exchange for exposure at the event or future business. For example, a local ice cream company can supply visitors to your stand with refreshments in exchange for a mention in your promotional materials.

Sponsorships from companies that support your business values and stand theme can significantly offset costs and are a great way of gaining financial support, services or products. In return you can offer visibility through your promotional materials, social media mentions, or complimentary tickets. 

Optimise digital marketing

Maximise digital marketing to promote the event and reach a wider audience at a minimal cost. By leveraging social media platforms or email campaigns to share details of the upcoming event or offer incentives for people to visit you at the event, you can reach a wider audience and create interest in your exhibition stand at little cost.  

Embrace sustainability

Adopting sustainable practices for your exhibition stand can also result in cost savings. It may not seem like much, but when you use energy-efficient lighting and reuse materials as much as possible, you are not only reducing operational expenses, but also saving on waste disposal costs.

By reducing waste and conserving resources where you can, you not only mitigate your environmental impact (there is a lot of waste is generated at exhibitions), but also better position your business as a sustainable one, thereby contributing to its long-term viability.

Keep it simple

We always say that less is more. So, if you prioritise essential elements of your exhibition stand that enhance the exhibition experience, enriched by quality lighting and signage, rather than overspending on elaborate and unnecessary decorations, you’ll have a more impactful design that aligns with your brand and is kind to your budget. 

Evaluate, learn and adapt 

Effective budgeting is an ongoing process of learning and adaptation, so once the event is over, evaluate its success based on your initial goals and budget. Maximise lessons learned by collecting data and listing what went well and what didn’t, and analyse attendance numbers, sales figures, and feedback from attendees and participants. Use insights gained to refine your approach for future exhibitions, identifying areas for improvement and potentially saving on costs. Planning an exhibition on a budget can prompt innovation, pushing you to explore unconventional avenues and get creative with your limited resources. 

Working with a tight budget to plan an exhibition requires creativity, resourcefulness, and strategic thinking. But what can help is a strategy where you’re setting clear goals to ensure that every pound spent is a wise investment, leveraging partnerships, and focusing only on the essential elements, without compromising on the quality or impact of the event.

It’s not necessarily about spending less but spending smart to create a memorable event that resonates with your audience without overspending.