8 Cheap Ways To Attend Awesome Trade Shows

CES tradeshow

Photo: Dave Taylor via Flickr

This article originally appeared on Open Forum.Attending trade shows can be valuable for businesses, but also costly.

Good news: there are ways to cut expenses even if you’re setting up a full-fledged exhibit booth. According to Ruth P. Stevens, president of eMarketing Strategy, the key lies in your planning.

Here are some way to get the most bank for your buck at trade shows, whether you’re presenting or just attending.

1. Make sure you're attending the right show

2. If you're setting up an exhibit booth, think used or small

3. Consider using a pop-up booth

To cut shipping and installation costs, buy booths that can be folded up easily into a carryon bag or mailed via UPS ground delivery. That way, not only do you eliminate the expensive charges for shipping the material, but you also avoid having to pay workers to unpack the stuff at the trade show location.

Case in point: Jim Dowd, co-owner of Beehive Kitchenware, which makes handmade home, kitchen and baby items, uses a booth with such features as hanging curtains instead of a regular wall and furniture that can be broken down easily into three pieces.

4. Your station could piggyback on someone else's exhibit

Large vendors often allow their business partners to station themselves in a corner of their booth.

Or, share the real estate with a company selling a complementary product.

5. Keep your eyes peeled for subsidies

If you're in the right industry, you might be able to get a helping hand. Take Rebeca Krones, owner of Tropical Traders Specialty Foods in Oakland, Calif.

She participates in the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association's Branded Program, which, according to Krones, pays half of all trade show marketing and booth costs for products with 50 per cent or more U.S.-grown ingredients.

6. Host an event nearby

7. Get a speaking gig

If you can sign on as a speaker, you won't even have to pay an attendance fee. You'll have to contact the show organisers in advance with a proposal for your speech.

To increase the chances of being accepted, says Stevens, you need original material -- and to make it clear you're doing more than simply promoting your company. One approach: include a client in the presentation.

8. Don't provide traditional giveaways

Now here's what to do after the trade show:

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