5 hidden costs of marketing an exhibition

Marketing plays a key role when exhibiting and like other aspects of the big event, it carries hidden costs. It also requires meticulous planning and defined goals so that ultimately, you can achieve the best possible return on investment.

Hidden Costs of Marketing

Marketing has the power to engage your current supporters while reaching out to a new audience. While they receive your marketing efforts for free, it will cost you in both money and time.

Get it right and you could achieve outstanding results. Get it wrong, and your hopes of a generous return could quickly turn into an expensive nightmare.

This list looks at 5 hidden costs that are often underestimated or completely overlooked when it comes to marketing an exhibition

Traditional advertising

Outsourcing your marketing efforts means that you’ll know how much you’re spending.

Sort of.

At the very least you’ll know what you’ve paid for and the publications that will be targeted. But what about that last minute opportunity to feature in a top trade publication – is there room in the budget for that?

And what about bringing advertising in-house. How much time is it costing your business by internal staff selling in a press release? What impact is this time having on your company’s bottom line?

Digital advertising

As with traditional advertising, outsourcing will likely mean that you know what you’re spending. But again, what happens when you bring the work in-house?

How long will it take to write an email campaign and then create it? Who will track and analyse the results? Who will compile the results for the weekly meeting?

The time that goes into making a campaign work is often underestimated…

Paid social media ads

Unlike your newspaper ad that will remain in the same space for all to see, your paid social media ad won’t. Whilst you pick how long you want the ad to run for, how much money you put into this avenue ultimately determines where your ad is placed and at what time.

Always have money in the pot to fund your paid ads. You never know when they might need a boost!

Printed items

Never assume that you’ll pay the same or similar price for your brochures or business cards as you did for the last exhibition. Setting aside the same budget is setting yourself up to fail. Print prices change all the time.

Not only should you check how much 300 copies of your 8-page will cost, but you should always have extra money in the budget for last minute changes or an additional 100 copies for the print run.


It’s easy to get carried away with promotional items like branded pens and notepads and which prizes to choose for the sweepstake but, what does it all mean? How are these things relevant to your brand and what is their purpose?

As well as ordering enough ‘standard’ goodies for everybody or ‘premium’ gifts for promising potential customers, extra costs for shipping and branding the items will usually increase your final figure with a generous nudge.

Have we missed any hidden costs off of the list? Let us know…

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