Figuring out what to budget for trade shows as part of your overall marketing is as much an art as it is a science. The artistic side relates to the communication of a message that hundreds or thousands of attendees will understand and act on. The scientific side focuses on ROI, how many prospects must you reach to realize a payoff for your effort.
My rule of thumb for trade show and event budgeting is that for an
overall marketing budget of 5%, 20% of this should go toward trade
shows. Every company is different, however if you depend on
relationships, market awareness, and can communicate your message in
a visual way, then trade shows are a terrific investment. Where you
invest, what shows have your target audience in attendance and how
often you attend is going to be unique to your company.
Not surprisingly there are many hidden and not so hidden costs to
attending a trade show. Transportation, for example, depending on
the size of your trade show display and the amount of trade
show "stuff" you take can $250 to over $1000. In some cases it is
required or financially smart to join the association or group that
is sponsoring the trade show. This again can be from a few hundred
to over $500. Below is a simple budget that can give you an overall
picture of your next trade show and what the cost categories will be.