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Trade Show Success by Design: A Three Part Series Part One: Tips for Planning a Successful Tradeshow

You want a successful trade show experience, but how do you make that happen? We’re going to answer that in a three parts: Pre-Show Planning, During the Show and Post-Show Follow-Up. Let’s begin with the planning.

It all begins before you even step foot on the exhibit floor. Echoing a statement by Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” You need to commit to your trade show goals and ways to achieve them with purpose. Crafting a trade show plan serves many purposes by:

  • Organizing the approach in one place.
  • Defining the overarching goal, objectives, key messaging, strategies, tactics, timelines and budgets.
  • Providing direction when deciding on tactics.
  • Assisting with onboarding team members new to the initiative.

Planning can take almost more time than putting it into action. Here’s a few starting points.

Start early with research.

Ask questions – a lot of questions. What “big things” will your company have to talk about at the time of the tradeshow? Did you have a big success to showcase your capabilities that could be demonstrated at the show? Launching a new product or service? Are you rebranding? Often a company will hold releasing “big things” to have something new and exciting to promote at the tradeshow. This is important not only in outlining your goals and objectives, but also in determining your messaging. Also ask: What does a successful tradeshow look? Is it all about the sales numbers, or is it building your brand, quality leads and fostering current relationships.

Define your budget.

You can have all the ideas in the world, but how much money you have to spend will really determine which ones are feasible. Start with the booth experience. Estimate your structure expenses (renting vs. owning), graphic design needs, promotional items, sales collateral, lead retrieval systems, electrical, internet, etc. Don’t overlook the costs to be there. How many team members do you need to account for travel, lodging and meals? How will you promote your tradeshow presence? Include costs for trade show promotions and communications in addition to any tradeshow advertising and sponsorships that could boost your brand presence.

Set deadlines and delegations.

Starting with the show date. Then work backward and begin plotting out key show deadlines, such as shipping and service orders. Know registration and hotel deadlines. Fill in with dates to communicate your show presence and what channels – this can begin up to six months before a show like NPE2018! Then back up further and assign dates to complete booth messaging and establish the look. You’ll want that to infiltrate through all the tradeshow communication before, during and after the show.

When the trade show plan is complete and all decision makers have signed off, then it’s time to implement! Who will do the work? Gather your marketers, public relations, graphic designers, subject matter experts and any other key players you need to execute your tradeshow plan. Is it just you? Need help – ask Vive how we can help with tradeshow support. We like to say tradeshows can be like Thanksgiving dinner — it takes 10 times as long to prepare than it does to devour!