If you’ve ever had trouble convincing management that exhibiting at a few trade shows this year is really worth it, you know that it’s the ROI they’re thinking about. Those of us on the marketing team see other big picture benefits, like increased brand recognition and valuable networking opportunities – but the people at the top have budgets and sales targets on the brain.

Really, getting the most bang for your buck at an event or trade show should be a concern for everyone involved. Here are 5 tips for cutting costs and increasing profits from the show – the formula for optimized ROI.

  1. Share a booth with partners. As long as it’s a good fit that makes sense, partnering with another exhibitor on one booth will hugely cut down on costs: you’ll pay less in exhibitor fees, cut transport costs, and reduce the spend on display visuals. And you’ll still be able to bring home valuable leads that turn into sales – at a lower cost per lead.
  1. Compare visuals and booth elements that give a similar visual impact. A fabric pop up, for example, functions great as a backdrop for your event booth, but typically costs less than most backwalls and tension displays. Need to show a video demonstration or loop a presentation? An iPad can do that for a lot less money than a mounted flatscreen TV.
  1. Choose branded designs that make it clear what you do, from a glance. At any trade show, you’ll spend valuable time talking to visitors who will never have a need for your products or services. Cut down on that wasted time by making sure your custom visuals say or show a little about what you’re offering. A big logo backdrop might look great, but adding a line of text underneath, or a product image, will entice relevant leads and wave on visitors who don’t need your services.
  1. Make sure that the right people know you’ll be attending, and where to find you. Look through the exhibitor list and invite your current contacts, and new people you’d like to meet with, to stop by your booth. Or offer to stop by their booth with coffee at a certain time, or have lunch during the show. Prioritizing leads you’re confident are valuable is a smart practice for ROI, since you’ll spend a lot of time at the show with unqualified leads who might not be valuable at all.
  1. Raise your profile with more than just an exhibitor booth. Don’t limit your exposure to those walking by – can you sponsor an event within the show? Can you speak at a session or workshop? Research the opportunities available at shows before you commit to them.

These tips will prime your trade show ROI for maximum results. You’ll still have to do the legwork at the show, and really nail the follow-up process after, but optimizing your exhibit and strategy will offer your business the best opportunity for profit and success the next time you set up at a trade show.