Saturday, February 23, 2013

How to Plan a Tradeshow - Creating a Budget

Now that you've selected which tradeshow you are exhibiting at, you need to make, and track diligently, a budget. There many things you need to budget for, which are listed below. Price shopping is also a must-do so that you are sure you are getting the best price possible. I always create my budget before I make the commitment to exhibit at a show. I pick out the show that I think would be beneficial and then I figure out how much it will cost me, the potential sales that I will make, and the leads I'll get. I also have a cool equation that calculates how many leads we "should" come back with depending on how many staff we send. I don't do that all of the time because we don't usually overstaff, and when we do it ends up being very beneficial for us. That is something you will have to keep a mental note of so that you don't over or under staff the booth.

There are tons and tons of tradeshow budget templates in excel format if you search "tradeshow budget template" on google. I have one that I created myself and is editable for each tradeshow that I go to, and tracks costs on a per person basis. All of the shows that my company attends is a little bit different and don't always have the same categories. Many require travel, which when planning a show 6 months out, will have very different costs at that time vs. when the travel is actually booked.

I budgeted out the travel back in November for a tradeshow that is coming up in March and back then, flights were close to $400 round trip. When I booked my flight last week, the cost was only $250ish roundtrip, so I ended up not spending the full amount and that extra $150 can be allocated elsewhere, like shipping where I underestimated. This might be a no brainer but always be aware that travel costs can rise for no reason, and at the last minute. I ALWAYS have a category for "Unforseen/Misc" expenses that I keep a reasonable amount allocated for, just in case some costs are higher than anticipated. This category helps keep shows within budget.

At my company it is stressed to us that under no circumstances can we exceed our budget. Our budget gets approved by our COO and our CEO, and they do keep track of the budgets. Last year I did very well with my planning and didn't go over my budget for any shows. This year I'm a bit worried because we are attending to more shows, and new shows. I have a budget for each one that were estimates done at the beginning of the year. Now that I am in planning mode and booking our space, travel, lodging, etc. I am realizing that our budgets are not high enough to cover everything. I've had to get creative about staggering staffing and figuring out our promotional items in order to stay within budget. Poor planning on my part for those new shows, but next year the budgets should be right on!

Anyway, to get back to the spreadsheet, here is a list of categories that you need to do a budget for, track the actual costs of, and calculate the variance to make sure you are staying within the budget:

Exhibit Costs
Booth Space
Exhibitor Badges (usually included with the booth space)
Electricity for booth
Internet, cable, or telephone service
Furniture for the booth (some shows do not include a table and chairs with the booth cost. It may be cheaper and better quality for you to purchase your own table and chairs that can be shipped or transported easily)
Carpeting (padding is always an extra cost and not included with the carpeting price)
Accessories for booth such as flowers, TV, audio, garbage can (yes you have to pay for that too), cleaning services, computer equipment rental (I suggest bringing your own), etc.
Insurance for booth (this one isn't always required)
Labor costs for setting up and tearing down the booth (sometimes you are required to use the company that is contracted by the show/location)
Booth graphics design
Booth graphics production
Storage costs if you preship

Shipping Costs
Shipping costs for booth and promotion items to and from the show (do you have to use the show carrier? If not, price shop this one)

Promotional Costs
Advertising (on show website, in program, etc.)
Hospitality Events
Direct Mailers/Mass Emails
Pre-show and Post-show advertising
Promotional Items (I use a company called BNoticed)
Business Cards (you should already have these!)
Mailing Rental (definitely do this, it helps with the preshow advertising and allows you to create a hot, warm, cold prospect list)
Presentation Production (slideshow played on a tv or computer, live presentation given by staff)
Dinners with Prospects/Current Clients
Candy/Snacks/Water/Coffee at booth

Lead Gathering
Lead Forms - Production and Printing
Card Reader Rental (I suggest purchasing a card scanner instead of renting the card reader)
Card Scanner (optional - I got this one and it works great. Definitely takes a lot of time and effort out of maintaining a database. It reads the typed text on business cards when it scans. You can sort the contacts by name, company, etc. You can create custom categories and edit the information that is scanned in. It also shows you if you have duplicate names and lets you "verify" the contacts so you can easily see which business cards you have reviewed for accuracy. If you handwrite anything on the business card, the scanner won't pick that up, but you can type it in when you are reviewing the information later)

Personnel Costs
Attire (make sure you have a dress code and get matching shirts for your booth staff. I use BNoticed for shirts too, but for embroidery the best quantity to order is 12, which can be a lot if you only need a couple of shirts)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Awesome Blog Posts Week of 2/11-2/17

Hello there! This week I found some great blog posts that I hope you all enjoy :)

This post is about balancing blogging life with real life. It hit a note with me since this semester is especially busy, and I made a promise to myself to keep my blog updated regularly. It's so easy to neglect my blob when I'm doing real life things, and likewise, when I'm blogging, I tend to forget that I have homework, work, and AMA activities!

Since I've been on a knitting spree the past couple of months I really enjoy seeing other knitting projects. It's a gorgeous infinity scarf and the way she embellishes them is just beautiful! I'm so inspired :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How To Plan a Tradeshow - Picking a Show

I'm going to write a multi-part Tradeshow Planning series based on my experiences. I plan all of the tradeshows for my group at work and that means tradeshows in States in the Western US. Mostly we exhibit at tradeshows in California, Arizona, and Washington. Last year we had one in Portland Oregon which was a blast! This year we have added shows to our list since we have a larger budget, and I got to choose which shows we attend out of a large group of potential shows. As you will see, budget is key in planning. But first, you must choose a show to attend!

You have probably already done this part, but if not, you must Identify your Target Market. Who are you selling to? Are you selling a product or a service? Do you want to sell to prospects who are in the area in which you live or are you willing to travel a distance? If you are willing to travel, your options for tradeshows widen. If you don't have much of a budget, I would suggest choosing a show that is nearby to cut down on travel expenses.

Budgeting will come in later, but you should still be keeping that in mind when picking a show to attend. Some shows cost a lot to exhibit at, and some very little. You must be concious of how much you are willing to spend and if you are willing to use it all for one show that could bring in a lot of prospects and leads, but they may not be the quality leads you are looking for, or if you would rather spread out the funds and attend several, smaller, shows that may not bring in as many leads, but those leads might be better quality, resulting in more sales.

An example is from a show that I've attended called Blizzcon (very fun). The exhibitors all are related to computers and gaming, and anything to do with Blizzard games. The exhibitors know that there are upwards of 20,000 people who attend this event, some people come with zero intention to purchase products, and others who are taking advantage of the sales. Even though the cost to exhibit is very very high, they know that they are going to recoup that cost with the sales that are made at the show, and the sales that are made after the show as a result of brand recognition and a trust that is formed during the show. We'll get into that later as well.

Once you have idenfied your target market you can research tradeshows that are geared towards that market, but are for your service or product. Look for trade organizations that represent the services and products you are selling to see if they have annual tradeshows. Contact your customers and find out if they attend any tradeshows and which ones they like the best. Customer opinions are a great way to go, they feel like they are extra special that you are asking for their opinion and if they see you at the show they recommend, you can almost guarantee a sale!

You want to pick a show that has a high volume of relevant prospects and one that has a good reputation. Those two usually go hand in hand! Most tradeshow organizers will have information on past shows like how many attendees per day were there, how many exhibitors, who the exhibitors were, etc. And depending on the show, you can find reviews of them online from both attendees and exhibitors. Definitely try to get that kind of information to determine if any direct competition went, and to get an idea of the types of exhibitors that could show up again when you go.

Once you have compared the costs, attendance, competition, and time, your choice will no doubt be a great one! Next up, creating your budget!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Overwhelmingly Busy!

This semester is looking like it will be my busiest yet! I'm working 40 hours per week, going to school 20 hours per week, am the executive vice president of the student chapter of the American Marketing Association, I'm the chair of the research project that we just started and have a whole 8 weeks to complete and present, trying to keep my blog updated with good content, and I'm planning a wedding for July! I don't know what I was thinking taking all of this on!!!

I have some blog posts planned, and hope to get them out soon, probably one per week but I'd like to do more. One good thing about my classes is that they are allowing us to bring in our tablets and use with the e-books for the class. So smarty pants me takes my tablet and does some work and blogging while I'm in class. Especially during my personal finance class. The first few chapters have been snooze fests...common sense that my mom and dad taught me about money management. Pay off your credit cards, don't buy things you don't need, pay your bills on time, etc. etc. etc. My business communications class will be very interesting I think. So far it's been a bit bland and also common sense about using correct grammar in emails and professional writings. The most recent class we had was about how to read non-verbal communication. I really enjoyed that part of it. Maybe I'l blog about that.

Keep an eye out for a post about creating a slamming resume, creating business cards, SEO optimization, and other marketing hot topics. The AMA group is planning to hold some seminars/classes to help others create resumes, business cards, websites, etc. and I'll be blogging about our journey!

I'm super excited to be part of the AMA, not only because it's great for my resume, but also because I will learn valuable skills in working with groups of individuals who come from all walks of life. Plus I think I'll make some great friends this semester!

Today the AMA hosted a free webinar about content marketing. It was very interesting and informative. I'd like to create a post about that, though I don't think I'm an expert in it quite yet. The short and quick definition of content marketing is creating content that is relevant to your target market, and will generate activities producing revenue from customers (such as purchasing a product or service). One thing I'm not too fond of with the AMA webinars I've watched are the sales pitches from the speakers. I understand that they have a product or service they want to promote, and hosting webinars is a great way to get the word out there, but sometimes the sales-y part is just too much! I don't mind a little bit, heck I even expect it. But pushy sales just gets me. Today's webinar was actually pretty good, and not pushy on sales at all. They even saved the sales pitch for the end of the webinar instead of opening up with it, which I really appreciated ha!

Anyway, just a quick update for all you bloggy buddies. I hope I can still have time on the weekends to knit :( I just created a new pattern and am about halfway finished with the cowl too! I'm looking forward to finishing it and sharing it with you all. Sorry for the jarbled thoughts being thrown out there. Blogging is my outlet to get it all down and reference back to when I'm stuck or can't remember what ideas I had!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Awesome Posts of the Week 2/4-2/10

Welcome back blogger pals! As always I hope you get as much enjoyment out of these posts as I did :) This week I found a ton of new blogs that are super-freaking-awesome and so most of these posts are from those wonderful ladies.

I was doing my normal saturday blog hopping looking for new friends and I found Postcards from Rachel who, by the way, is an outstanding blogger and has such interesting posts and very unique photos from her travels! Anyway, this post of her Westie is so cute :) I've wanted a Westie (and a cavalier king charles spaniel) since I can remember, so when I saw her cute pup I had to share!

In Designer Jeans planned a baby (girl) shower for her sister and it turned out great! I love posts like these because they are so inspirational and it's so fun to see how someone put so much time and effort into something and it ended up turning out better than they had ever thought :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hot Pink Knit Cowl

This week I've finished a cowl similar to the multi-colored one I posted about here. I modified the pattern a bit like I mentioned before by not using any purl stitches. I actually like it a lot better! The purl stitches did give the other cowl a nice texture and look, but the knit stitches make it look very clean. I love it! The color is also awesome. Can never go wrong with hot pink in my opinion :)

It is getting more difficult to knit things as quickly as I would like since school is back in session. I work 40 hours a week, then go to class at night until 9 or 9:20 for 3 of the nights in the week. The other two nights I'm doing homework or working out, or both!! My weekends are spent frantically trying to get the laundry and housework done, plus getting my homework finished and studying, and in the case of this past weekend, working! The working part doesn't happen very often, so that's no big thing. I did miss out on the farmer's market again this weekend though. Next weekend I will definitely be jogging over and hopefully getting some great, organic, fruits and veggies. Come to think of it, I should blog about it!

Anywho, here is my latest cowl (which you can find in my Etsy store)!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Awesome Posts of the Week 1/28-2/3

irish italian blessing made this great tutorial on creating shapes with text in microsoft word!

real mom reviews great post on money saving tricks. i am going to try these out for sure!

the secret life of samara     this post about hairdressers has been my experience in my search for someone local...hits the nail on the head!

ktj weighing in i live this post about working out with a trainer for the first time. i felt like the laziest, weakest, and unfit person ever. today marks my 7 month journey and i can say it gets better and having a trainer is the best!

Giveaway!!! $75 Pottery Barn Giftcard!

Giveaway: $75 Pottery Barn Gift Card Giveaway

Hosted and Sponsored by: Everything Mommyhood

A special thanks to the co-hosts for making this giveaway possible

One lucky winner will receive a $75 gift card to Pottery Barn.
Can be redeemed at any of Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, PBteen, Williams-Sonoma, Williams-Sonoma Home or West Elm stores, online or by phone.

This giveaway is open to US residents only.
Giveaway is 2/1 12:01am EST - 2/28 11:59pm EST

Enter below via the Rafflecopter at Everything Mommyhood!