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What’s Your Budget? The #1 Item Exhibit Designers Need from Clients

By February 14, 2023May 9th, 2024No Comments

What’s Your Budget? The #1 Item Exhibit Designers Need from Clients

Let me set the scene for you.

I’m having a conversation with a potential new client. This client needs an exhibit for an upcoming trade show. Well, they’ve come to the right place! At Pure Creative, we specialize in all things innovative experiences. Check.

The client has been open with my team and me. They’ve given us almost enough information to start creating a concept for them. Check.

Only one crucial item remains the budget.

Hesitation fills the air. An awkward five seconds of silence go by as if this client’s budget is the key to Atlantis. We’ve been transported to a poker game, and I’ve asked a competitor to share their cards with me. Uh oh.

I’ve encountered this reaction more times than I can remember. The budget is one of the most essential pieces of the puzzle, yet numerous potential clients feel the need to hold on to it for dear life. Most of the time, we finally receive a response: “We don’t have a budget.”

Woah…hold up. No budget?

Everybody has a budget for any item they purchase, whether they realize it or not. A certain number or range exists in our minds when we go to buy a car or plan our weekly grocery haul. Like any significant investment, budgeting for a trade show exhibit should be given ample time and consideration.

Sometimes, we hear the following:

“If I give you my budget, it will restrict your creativity.”

“Giving a budget allows exhibit companies to screw me.”

Fear not, potential clients! As a designer with over 25 years of experience in this industry, the most helpful item you can provide to a design team is a budget or range. First, not knowing what you want to spend makes your designer confused and frustrated in determining which direction he/she can go. The cost of design, value engineering, and estimating can be excessive and expensive for exhibit companies. By not providing a budget, time that can be utilized for designing and building goes wasted. Coming under or slightly over your budget allows for smaller tolerances and revisions without compromising the design concept you love, as opposed to coming in with a design that, for example, costs $100K when you only have $45K to spend. In this scenario, valuable time and resources ended up wasted. A budget also allows creativity to flourish. If working with a low budget, we can still develop a fabulous display using different resources more aligned with the budget.

Take, for example, another recent situation. My team and I met with a client who wanted a high-end custom exhibit for a 20×50 space. When we asked for a budget, we got the old “we don’t have one.” Based on all the criteria they gave us, we told them that the exhibit would be around $300K, and they said, “If we like it, we will find the extra money.” A couple of weeks later, we came up with a beautiful solution that everyone loved and was estimated at just under the $300k mark. The client adored this booth but finally told us their budget is $150k. It felt like we wasted our time and resources on the concept, and then we had to lower the client’s expectations to fit the lower cost.

When major surgery is done on a concept, and the budget needs to drop by 50%, the design will be compromised and not look like the original.

Providing your trade show exhibit agency/partner a budget number or a budget range saves time and money and helps everyone involved, especially you. If you’re worried about unethical practices with your exhibit contractor, we suggest reaching out to peers and gathering reviews on exhibit design firms before taking a meeting. At Pure Creative, our experienced team strives to make the process seamless for you. Reach out to us today to start your next project.