Trade show coordinators understand how many hundreds of details are involved in planning and executing your trade show presence. With so much minutiae bogging you down, the big picture can seem a little distant. It is imperative to remember your reason for exhibiting at the show in the first place: introduce a new product, get qualified leads, meet with clients/prospects, etc. Organizing those many details into categories can help make sure you have your bases covered with our expo checklist.
After you have selected the trade show(s) where you want to exhibit, stake out your territory. As they say, location is everything. Pick your location carefully to ensure healthy traffic. Some ways in which you can get first pick are: planning a year in advance, choosing a large space, advertising in the show materials, and becoming a sponsor of the event. Regardless of the size and location, make sure you have the appropriate size and scope of display(s) for that space.
It’s a a huge stack of paper (or a huge folder of PDF files), but the exhibitor manual contains all of the critical deadlines you need for everything from ordering carpet and electrical to installation of your hanging banner. Review it well enough to get the information you need and put it in your calendar to get the early-bird pricing. Review periodically to stay ahead of the game.
Don’t just pick out some people; they should actually want to be there. They should like dealing with people, have a lot of energy, and be knowledgeable about your company and products. You can’t train someone to like people or be energetic, but you can teach them about your company and how to answer questions. Decide on a dress code or distribute company shirts. Establish a code of conduct and a break schedule.
Hotels with special expo rates are often listed in the exhibitor manual. They are usually adjacent to the convention center and frequently offer expo-related activities. Reserve rooms well ahead of time or you could end up staying across town–a waste of time and money. You should also plan ahead to get the best fares from your preferred airline.
Using the right displays and having the right graphics is so incredibly critical. They can be a great asset or a thorn in your side. Your displays shout your brand and corporate identity across the show floor for all the world to hear. Partner up with a display provider that can consult with you on what types of displays would best serve your goals.
With the orchestrated chaos of activity in and around the show floor, you need to have staying power in the minds of your visitors and prospects. Will they remember you after they get back to the office? Some exhibitors like to accomplish this with brochures, fliers, and business cards. Others like to use promotional items, such as a ball cap or a USB drive containing your literature. These can be given at the show, or sent as a follow-up afterward.
This is basically getting your display and expo materials to the right place at the right time. Typically, you can send your items to the advance warehouse, or to the expo venue at a later date. Plan carefully so you use the method that costs the least. And yes– you have to pay the “material handling” (a.k.a., drayage) fees to get your shipment from the dock to your booth space. Don’t forget that you have to ship your exhibit materials back out after the show ends. Thanks to all that paperwork, you can pre-plan for this with show labels and forms as well.
The show is over; now what? Have a plan in place for following up with your prospects. Also, meet with the booth staffers to analyze your performance as a company. Don’t be afraid to make changes based on their feedback.
Most of your critical elements fall within these categories. If we missed something that’s important to you, let us know by leaving a comment.
One last thought: Don’t sweat the small stuff – oh, you forgot the bowl of mints! Who cares?! Does your display embody your brand and represent your organization well? Do your booth staffers know how to qualify prospects? Don’t worry. You’ve got the bases covered.