Smart Money: Is It Time to Upgrade to a Custom Modular Display?

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“How will I know when it’s time to upgrade my trade show display? And how can I justify the expense?” Here at EXHIB-IT!, we get these questions a lot. Whether you’re in sales or the marketing department, chances are you’re under pressure to spend less and sell more. Here, we share some insider tips to help you determine when is the right time to trade in your old exhibit for a new custom modular display.

Trade show marketing is just one of many line items in your company’s annual marketing plan and budget. And with trade show ROI being notoriously difficult to calculate, companies will often allocate more money for marketing strategies that offer a simpler ROI assessment, such as direct mail, pay-per-click advertising, and email marketing.

With so many marketing initiatives competing head-to-head for a slice of the budget, how can you be sure it’s the right time to upgrade to a custom modular display?

Timing Is Everything

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Sometimes, making the decision to upgrade to a custom modular display is easy based on the timing of other changes taking place within the organization. For example:

Has your company’s branding, slogan, or primary target messaging changed? Or is an entirely new product or service line being introduced?

If so, your display graphics will have to be updated to match. Rather than merely re-doing your existing table cover, banner stand and backwall, for just a few dollars more you could have a flexible, modular display that offers a stronger brand image and the ability to outfit a variety of booth sizes — from 10’x10’ to 10’x30’.

Is your company expanding into new markets or territories?

This kind of expansion usually requires that you book booths at different kinds of trade shows to introduce yourself to the market. However, more shows per year equals more wear and tear on your old display assets, and eventually, just like a car, your display will start showing its age. With a custom modular display, the exhibit pieces are separate, so you’ll always have interchangeable “spare parts” to use in case one piece becomes damaged during shipping or setup.

Do you have a need to attend overlapping events?

In those rare circumstances when you might actually want to have a corporate presence at two different trade shows on the same weekend, or back-to-back events in different cities, a modular display kit can be broken up into two separate fully-functional sets — one for each venue.

Budgeting for a Custom Modular Display

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Even if the timing seems right for a trade show display upgrade, the VP of sales and marketing may still need some convincing. Here are some helpful facts and ballpark figures to help you make your case:

Initial Investment

Depending on what size you’re looking at (10’x10’, 10’x20’ or 10’x30’), purchasing and designing a brand new custom modular display can cost as little as $8,000 or as much as $70,000. When shipped and stored properly, however, these displays can be used for upwards of 10 years and still look fantastic, so when you spread the initial investment cost across the total life use of the product, it’s much more economical.

Shipping and Drayage

Modular displays weigh about 60% less than custom displays, so shipping costs are less. Small traveling cases can usually be purchased to protect items from damage during transport. And depending on the size and weight, you may even be able to fit your display items into the back of an SUV or check them as baggage with the airline. Again, depending on the size of the display, shipping and drayage will vary, but generally speaking, they can run as little as $450 and as high as $2600 per event.

Storage Costs

Obviously, if you can store your display components on-site at your office, you won’t have to rent space at a commercial trade show marketing warehouse.  However, often times the cost of renting space is outweighed by the convenience, as some trade show marketing companies offer additional services, such as the ability to ship your display right from their facility. Depending on how many pieces in your display and whether it’s being stored in cases or crates, storage costs can be as little as $130 per year or all the way up to $1500.

The Real Value: More for Your Money

Copyright © Nomadic Display

As we mentioned in a previous blog, the real value of custom modular trade show displays revolves around their ability to fill the space — whatever size that happens to be. For example, let’s say you purchase a display with a four-panel back wall for use in a 10’x20’ booth at a big national trade show. Then, a month later, you decide to set up a 10’x10’ booth at a local job fair. You don’t have to buy separate display components to fit the smaller booth. Just remove one of the extra back wall panels, or place it out near the aisle for more attention, or simply don’t take it to the show at all. It’s like getting two or three exhibits for the price of one!

In addition, custom modular displays offer:

  • Seamless tech integration: Many modular display packages now come standard with built-in A/V workstations, sturdy mounts for widescreen TVs, and other high-tech/high-touch features.
  • Ease of assembly: Modular displays do not require an approved labor source and can be easily assembled by your sales team in a matter of minutes.
  • All-inclusive kits: With the exception of conference tables and chairs, most modular display packages come with everything you need to put together a well-outfitted, well-branded trade show booth.


Ready to get started? Browse our complete line of custom modular displays and simply choose the best layout to make your brand look amazing.

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