6 Steps Not to Overlook in Your Trade Show Planning

trade show planning

Planning a booth for a trade show is an exciting experience and opportunity for your business, but it can also be overwhelming with so much to plan and do. What is the number one thing to keep in mind? Start your trade show planning early!

Many trade show experts recommend starting your preparation a year before the show.

So what steps do you need to take to in order to get the most out of your trade show investment? Keep reading to learn how to make sure your show goes off without a hitch.

The 6 Steps You Must Do for Successful Trade Show Planning

Come to terms with your budget.

Your budget is the first place to start before you do anything. Before you purchase the biggest exhibit space the trade show offers, be sure to work with your accounting or procurement departments to understand how much money you can have to work with. When presenting your case for this trade show, be sure to estimate:

  • Cost for attending the show for all staff who will be present
  • Cost of travel expenses, transportation while at the event, lodging, meals, and incidentals
  • Cost of booth, show services, multimedia, rentals, and marketing materials

Be sure to request some wiggle-room in your budget just in case unforeseen circumstances crop up (e.g. flight fare increases, etc.).

Devise an event marketing strategy.

Why are you exhibiting at this trade show? How does this show in particular fit into your existing marketing strategy? What goals do you have? Are you looking to make sales, get a certain number of leads, introduce a new product or perhaps give your company more exposure? It’s important not only to determine why you are there, but also to figure out how you’re going to do it.

In your strategy, you should think through:

  • How will you promote attendance at this event? Email marketing and social media are great ways to spread the word to your contacts and friends.
  • If your goal is raising brand awareness, what tactics will you employ to get people excited about wanting to meet with you? Think about giveaways and contests that may be relevant to your target audience.
  • If your goal is lead generation, what compelling offers can you give to trade show attendees to want to contact your company after the event is over? You can host a free demo or offer a 10-minute consultation onsite. Ask the event organizer if they can share a list of attendees with you prior to the trade show. No matter what you do, getting contact information from the attendees is key to follow-up after the show.

Design a trade show booth presence that makes your company memorable.

You can’t be successful at a trade show without a great booth. Here are a few questions to think through:

  • Have you registered the space you need with the event sponsor? Do so as soon as possible to ensure you get the earliest picks on the best available space/location. Talk to the event host about specific exhibit requirements so there are no unpleasant surprises later on.
  • How much space is your booth allowed to take up? What is included in the space? Will there be outlets/hookups, WiFi, etc.?
  • What equipment will you need? Will you need a projector, sound equipment, a flat screen, etc.? Can the event host provide some of these? Will it be cheaper for you to bring your own equipment instead of renting it?
  • Will you buy an exhibit booth that you can use over and over again? Or will renting one be more cost effective this time around?
  • Do you need to hire additional help for setting up and taking down your booth? Would you like help with arranging labor, submitting the necessary forms, arranging and ordering onsite services, and handling the logistics? Outside trade show vendors may be able to assist.
  • Allow yourself twice as much time as you think you’ll need to decide what you want your exhibit booth to convey. How will you want to display your logo? What images and verbiage might you want to use? What is it you want attendees to take away from being in your booth? Give your exhibit designer plenty of time to work up the perfect concept and design for you.

Insider’s Tip: To get speedy turnaround time of your graphic materials, give your vendors only items that have been proofread and are (fingers-crossed) free of errors. Provide vendors with the highest resolution of files, photos, and logos. This will prevent unnecessary back-and-forth for your vendor to get started.

Prepare your staff for the big day.

Make sure that all staff in attendance are on the same page. Do they understand what the goals are for this event? Do they know what type of attendees you are looking to connect with? Do they all know “the company line?” How do you want them to introduce your company? Do you have a system for qualifying potential clients and capturing thorough lead information?

Book your travel arrangements.

Booking flights and hotel rooms last minute generally results in paying more than you should had you booked them beforehand. Be sure to book all of your logistics as early as possible, such as:

  • Car service or car rental
  • Hotel shuttle
  • Restaurant reservations if you are meeting with clients while at the show (or treating your staff)

But don’t stop at the employees; make sure your booth and marketing materials are taken care of, too. You may want to take some of these with you on the flight. Or it may be cheaper to have them shipped via FedEx or another carrier directly to the trade show location. Your hotel may be able to receive shipments on your behalf; be sure to coordinate with the concierge before you explore this option.

Make time for post-show follow up.

Believe it or not, your job doesn’t end when the trade show does. After the show ends, you’ll need to worry about:

  • Follow up with leads gathered at the show. Make sure someone on your team is on task to call, email, and nurture these leads as soon as possible upon your return.
  • Do a regroup with your team. Think about how the show went. Did you meet your goals? What was the ROI? Should you go to the same show next year? Determining your successes and struggles from this show can help you better prepare for the next one.

One of the biggest points to note when planning your trade show is that, while it is a daunting task, you don’t have to go it alone. A trade show partner may be able to save you time and frustration by helping you with the steps listed above. Contact us today to schedule a free exploratory call.