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Bigger Isn’t Always Better

When it comes to trade shows and events, bigger isn’t always better. Sure a large 10,000 sq ft. exhibit is pretty impressive, but do you really require that much space to make your brand stand out and reach your event marketing goals? Here are a few reasons why a smaller space can make the same or better impact.


Spend more on marketing: When you don’t use your entire marketing budget on your booth space and exhibit expenses, you have more opportunity to reach and market effectively to your target audience. Think of pre-show mailers, email campaigns, at show promotions, hospitality events or more. These marketing initiatives can take your message and brand beyond the show and help turn more prospects into customers.

Empty space: Large exhibit space can often be intimidating. I have walked the halls of some of the largest convention centers and have seen some pretty massive exhibits. What I have also seen was wasted space, empty areas, no customers and no staff. I felt a bit lost and had to search out for employees working the exhibit to find someone, anyone to talk to. It seemed like a lot of empty, useless space on the show floor that had no reason of being there. Why pay for empty carpet you won’t use?

Face-to-face intimacy: When you exhibit at a show your key goal is to generate quality leads from target consumers. Sometimes smaller space allows for a more intimate conversation, better interaction and private demonstration of what you have to show. Large group demos are often good to tell a lot of people at once what you are selling, but at the same time, how many of those people do you approach or approach you after to discuss it further? Sometimes a smaller audience is better.

Projected amount of attendees: I have made the mistake of upgrading my booth space thinking the event will be as successful as the year before. I locked in my booth early to pay reduced fees and get the space I wanted. I knew the location of the next years venue so I assumed it would be a good turn out, I was wrong. I ended up paying for a larger space with not the same amount of success. I should have done my research on their estimated attendees rate and purchased my space accordingly. There is no reason to increase square footage if the same or fewer attendees are going to show up.

So when you are designing your next exhibit or choosing your exhibit space, factor in the other ways you can generate success and market your brand without paying out your nose on floor space. Some of these other efforts can pay off more in the long run and allow you a more intimate engagement with your audience.



Read the What Attendees Tells Us About Best Practices white paper to learn what it is attendees actually want to see when visiting your trade show booth. Learn what causes attendees to visit a booth and how you can better your trade show exhibiting experience. Click here for your free copy.

About the Author

Gretchen Makela was the Director of Marketing for Skyline TradeTec, located in Lombard, Illinois.

3 responses to “Bigger Isn’t Always Better

  1. Very well said Gretchen. “The best marketing does not feel like marketing.” The best brands devote a lot of resources find out what interests us before they get in touch with us. Easier said than done. Right?
    Not really. You can do it easily if you are exhibiting at trade shows. Spin your face -to-face interaction into real information gathering. Get to know what interests them and what irks them. This might be also a great way to see what kind of message sticks with your target audience. Ater all, it the people who gives new meaning to your brand.

    “Unique in-the-moment feedback helps you create more relevant outbound marketing content.” Why, because 30-50% of the leads that enter the sales cycle are not ready to buy but are qualified and represent future opportunities. Gleanster Research

    Keep turning the wheels of marketing. “Don’t just launch a value proposition and expect it to never change. As with any successful long term initiatives, the customer strategy must adapt and evolve. Customers’ needs and expectations change, and the business context is dynamic. To stay relevant and competitive, the company must refresh its core value proposition, its loyalty bonds mix, and its core capabilities. After all, wheels are useless unless they continue to carry you forward.”

  2. Very well said! I’ve also fallen victim of overestimating the number of attendees. If you absolutely can’t find any information from previous years’ shows, one little trick I’ve learned is to do a quick Flickr or Google image search of the event. If nothing turns up, see if you can find out if a custom hashtag was used and do a quick check of Twitter or Instagram. You can more often than not get a decent idea of how busy the show was.


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