It takes careful planning to execute successful attendance at an exhibition or trade show. Months of planning go into countless tasks which if not organised can become overwhelming as you try and squeeze it into your normal daily schedule. It’s the little things than can make the difference and it can be easy to overlook them. So here’s a reminder of what you should be preparing and when you should be preparing it.
12 months to go…
• Select which show you are going to exhibit at and, if possible, contact the organiser to book your stand space. By contacting them now, you will get a better choice and you might be offered an early-bird rate.
• Before you book your stand, check the location, dimensions and layout of the space to ensure that it meet your needs.
• Review all trade show related paperwork such as insurance and note any requirements and deadlines.
• Decide on your objectives for the trade show – why are you attending, how is it a part of your long-term marketing efforts, outline a budget, what is the specific ROI you’re targeting, what is going to be your marketing strategy to achieve these goals.
• Start thinking about the size, layout, design and creation of your stand, and start sourcing quotes from stand-builders.
8 months to go…
• Consider any specific lighting or utility needs you might have.
• Start creating any marketing collateral you might need (press kits, brochures, product or service specification sheets, business cards).
• Start creating your trade show publication entry or advert.
• Book any additional furniture and audio-visual equipment that you will need.
• Select the team who will be attending. If the trade show is international, ensure that each person has a valid passport. Make sure that that registration paperwork is completed for all of them.
4 months to go…
• Ensure that all the giveaways, products and any signage will be ready in time.
• Plan how you will be getting any freight to the show
• Begin critical trade show marketing activities such as researching competitors who will be attending, reach out to attendees and start booking appointments, start promoting your attendance on social media using the relevant hashtags.
• Promote your participation on your website homepage
• Place adverts in industry publications.
• Issue a press release announcing your participation and any launch you are intending.
• Confirm travel details, accommodation arrangements, expenses plan.
• Start compiling a trade show folder which contains contracts, agreements, plans, orders, budget information, and contact details for attending colleagues, key show personnel and contractors.
• Issue stand invites to your clients, prospective clients and other people of interest.
1 week to go…
• One week before the show, make sure that all those attending know the trade show goals and overall strategy, are well versed in the elevator pitch and sales conversations, are ready to handle tough trade show questions, and know individual responsibilities.
• Have office and stand supplies ready (pens, paper, stapler, scissors, USB memory stick, adhesive tape, a multi-tool, first aid kit, batteries, extension lead, hand wipes, hand sanitiser, mints, high-energy snacks, bottled water, lip balm, spare phone/laptop/tablet chargers etc.