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What to Know as an Exhibit Buyer

If you’re newer to the exhibit world, choosing and buying an exhibit can be intimidating. But, if you know what to expect, it can help ease the process a bit and help you meet your marketing objectives.


The best place to start is the beginning… how to get started.


First thing to know is there are different types of exhibits and different types of exhibiting. The best fit for your brand will depend on how you plan to use the exhibit, the image you want to portray, and the budget you have to work with.


After you have your budget in place, you’ll move on to deciding where to purchase from. More than likely, you’ll be buying from a local exhibit design and build company, like us here at Breakthrough Productions. Companies in our industry that build and design exhibits have been around for decades and have a deep understanding of exhibits and trade shows.


With years of experience in not only design, but marketing, graphics, and trade show tactics, having an exhibit consultant at one of these companies can make the decision between different types of exhibits easier. Their knowledge will help you avoid the pitfalls that inexperienced trade show marketers won’t know to be on the look out for.


Expect sticker shock

Be prepared for sticker shock when exhibit shopping. Many first-time buyers can be shocked by the price of even a 10 ft. portable exhibit. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind that exhibit manufacturing is a low volume, highly specialized operation.


On average, a leading portable exhibit will cost between $20 to $150 per square foot (PSF). A leading modular could cost between $50 and $300 PSF. And a custom from a leading custom house could cost between $100 and $300 PSF.


The more customized the exhibit system, the more expensive. To avoid a huge sticker shock, renting booths and exhibits is also an option. At Breakthrough, we offer several different exhibit models to choose from where you can make small alterations to keep the image of your brand.


Where to buy

If you plan to exhibit more than once or twice and renting isn’t the best option for you, then chances are you’ll be working closely with an experienced exhibit consultant for several years. It’s important to look at different design and builders throughout the industry to find the right fit for you.



Most exhibit consultants or distributors work with exhibit system manufacturers. Some distributors are exclusive to a system manufacturer, but most carry multiple exhibit systems. The distributors range from sales-only operations to complex operations that provide value-added services such as design, graphics, rental, and storage. Generally, the manufacturer supplies the distributor with exhibit system literature and assists the distributer with design support.


Custom fabricated exhibits are sold direct since custom fabrication houses design and manufacture the exhibit. Storage and graphic production are common with custom exhibit fabrication houses. However, some offer a range of other value-added services such as orchestrating the installation and dismantling.


Most distributers’ websites will allow you to order exhibits from their websites. Here at Breakthrough design and consultations are usually free. Lead times for us at Breakthrough can range from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the final design.


Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is the easiest way to save you stress and possibly money. Most importantly, planning ahead will help you avoid making hasty decisions. You can ensure that your decisions are the best for your brand and the event. Planning ahead also provides time adjust anything that you see fit and make last minute refinements.


Define an exhibit marketing strategy

Your exhibit marketing strategy should include our purpose, goals, and final objective. We suggest drafting this before you are influenced by budget parameters. Your exhibit strategy should be consistent with you general marketing strategy. By creating an exhibit marketing strategy, you may find what type of exhibit is best suited for your brand or company. For example, if your company plans to attend numerous shows back-to-back using a 10 x 10 space, you may want to look into portable or modular exhibits.


For more information about choosing and buying an exhibit, you can contact here at Breakthrough Productions. We’d love to work with you to design and build your ideal exhibit or booth.

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