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5 Ways to Make Your Exhibit Budget Go Further

What’s the #1 challenge facing exhibit managers today? According to the2015 Exhibit Managers Survey Report, soon to be released by MSM, it’s budget cuts—and by a wide margin. At the same time, CEIR’s The Marketing Spend Decisionreports that the overall number of exhibitscontinue to rise.

When you put these two findings together, one thing becomes clear: many exhibit managers are under increasing, sometimes intense, pressure to do more with less—a trend which shows no signs of abating.

At MSM, we view this as a strong signal that exhibit houses need to continue working to deliver ever-greater value to their customers. In the current environment, dollars simply have to go further. Waste and inefficiencies can’t be tolerated.

In this spirit, we offer five possible ways your exhibit house can rein in costs, so you can reinvest those savings back into your growing tradeshow program:

#1. Overall operational efficiency   
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows an organization to use integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions. It’s a tried and true way to get a handle on the cost of operations. So if your exhibit house doesn’t use ERP or an equivalent system, you might want to ask them why.

#2. Streamlined inventory
From the day they’re built, exhibit properties basically never stop moving. So if the inventory management system that tracks those movements isn’t operating with utmost efficiency, a lot of dollars will go up in smoke. Barcoding has been around for decades in retail to streamline inventory costs. We think it’s time for exhibit houses to invest in technology like this and pass the savings along to their customers.

#3. Fixed costs for in /out services
You build an exhibit and, for the next five years or so, it will be taken from inventory, shipped out to shows and then placed back in, over and over again. The labor involved to complete one of these cycles never really changes, so why should each bill be a different amount? We think providing in and out services as a fixed cost is an idea worth exploring. That way, you’ll never have to pay for the labor overages that inevitably creep in without this common-sense safeguard.

#4. Lower storage costs
When you’re charged by the cubic foot for storage (the industry standard), you receive an adjusted bill every single time a property is added to your inventory. Is there a better way? Perhaps charging by the square foot instead, then simply stack new properties on top of your old ones? This could not only provide a basis for new cost savings, it would definitely make inventory management simpler.

#5. Help with proving ROI
We’ve saved the most powerful idea for last. Because whenever you can present your marketing team with a quantitative payoff on the investment they’ve made in your tradeshow program, you’ve basically bullet-proofed your budget. Everyone knows this. But the complexity of making ROI calculations, and of presenting them persuasively to those who hold the purse strings, can be challenging. Fortunately, some exhibit houses offer assistance in nailing down ROI and will support you in making your case to your marketing peers.

We think these are all reasonable suggestions that any exhibit house can adopt. Taken together, they’ll help you put a greater number of dollars where they really belong—on showfloor, providing the amazing customer experiences we’re all in this business to deliver.