by Caitlin Samples | September 01, 2017
Exhibiting at trade shows is one way for associations to market their offerings to potential members. Another way is to host the shows, which can help their supplier community connect with the right buyers. But trade show booths can be a costly endeavor. Themes, logos and site locations change, requiring newly branded materials, all of which can add up in the cost department. The following tips will help exhibitors save time and money on booth design and fabrication without relinquishing any pizzazz. 

Flexible Materials
Invest in a booth that can be reconfigured to fit multiple spaces. No two trade show floor layouts are ever exactly the same, so make sure you buy or build a booth that can be adjusted for size, and use materials that can be added and taken away from a space without making the booth look unfinished or too cluttered. 

Strategic Branding
Brand your booth with organizational messaging. If you stick with such signage -- rather than branding your booth with the destination, show or current company theme -- you can easily repurpose the booth design for future shows. 
Resist the temptation to put a date or year on the messaging or booth. By avoiding time-sensitive information in materials and keeping branding generic whenever possible, you can use banners, name tags, lectern boards and staff uniforms from one event to the next. You can always add the date and the year's theme to auxiliary materials that are less expensive. 

Technological Alternatives
Be current on technological advances and how they can apply to your booth. For example, buy or rent a monitor or an iPad to display material that might change with different events. The resulting reduction in the amount of printing and paper used will have a positive effect on your bottom line -- not to mention the ecological health of the planet.    

Starting Early 
Start planning -- and communicating -- early. Try asking vendors for a discount if you can give them all your information ahead of the scheduled deadline. The vendor community, awash in last-minute planning, would likely jump at the chance to work with a sensible timeline and offer a reasonable discount in return. 

A Fair Trade
Try sharing publicity and marketing tools with your suppliers. If you're working with new suppliers, ask them about providing their product or service for free or at a reduced cost in return for marketing exposure, which can take the form of your distributing their business cards or posting vendor signage at the trade show booth.

All-Purpose Products
Invest in promotional items that are unique as well as relevant. Search for things that you can give away at all trade shows, no matter what the season, date or theme. Promotional products can be an effective way to advertise, but only if you take the time to pick the right items to represent your company. 

Caitlin Samples is exhibit sales operations manager at Hargrove, a nationally renowned general services contractor for trade shows, events and exhibits.