Last Updated on Mar 5, 2020 by James W


From rental fees to giveaway bags, preparing a budget for your business’s first trade show can seem like an impossible task. With hundreds of expenses to consider, even the most stringent budget can seem insufficient for a large industry event.

Like any other form of marketing, successful trade show marketing is about getting a positive return on your investment. In this guide, you’ll learn how to budget for a trade show while keeping your business’s key marketing goals in mind.

Prepare a flexible budget

Nothing is worse than arriving at a trade show and realizing that your budget just isn’t enough to get maximum results. While expenses like floor space and banners can be worked out in advance, on-the-day expenses are often difficult to predict.

Make sure your budget is firm enough to prevent your team from overspending, but flexible enough to give them some room to adjust their spending based on the event and its sales results.

Adjust and review based on results

When you’re exhibiting at a trade show for the first time, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of staff that you’ll need. Keep an emergency budget ready in case you’re overwhelmed with prospects, and use it to call in additional staff for day two.

Don’t be afraid to test the waters

It’s easy to accidentally overspend on your first trade show. If you’re exhibiting at a certain event for the first time, don’t feel like you need to have the biggest booth or the most expensive banner – start small and test the waters with a lighter budget.

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Create incentives for your sales team

When you’re investing a large amount of your marketing budget in booth space and marketing materials, your sales team needs to be highly motivated. Consider setting up a rewarding commission structure to encourage your most effective sales reps.

Even a modest prize – a bottle of champagne for the event’s sales champion – can be enough to keep your sales team competitive and focused on closing as many deals as possible during the event.

Don’t neglect the cost of your exhibition

Renting floor space and preparing an exhibition is not cheap. First-time trade show marketers should be prepared to spend at least 30 per cent of their budget on floor space and an additional 15 per cent to hire exhibition stands.

Keep an emergency ‘closing’ fund

Trade shows don’t begin and end at the convention center – after the event, most of the exhibitors will meet up for dinner, drinks, and conversation. If you don’t have a budget prepared for entertaining, you could miss out on lucrative business deals.

Keep a reasonable portion of your budget available for sales reps to spend after the doors close and the trade show ends for the evening. Some of the best sales won’t be made on the show floor, but in nearby bars and restaurants.


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