A lot goes into planning for a trade show event. From preparing your staff to making the travel arrangements, it can feel like your to-do list goes on forever. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it’s helpful to sit down and create a trade show planning timeline with the tasks you need to complete. This will keep you on track with your goals and ensure a smooth and successful event.
12 Months – Select the Best Shows
How many conferences you attend is up to you, your budget and the goals you hope to reach. Some businesses pour everything into one or two big shows, while others attend several smaller shows. Give yourself enough time to look at all the events you might want to attend. Narrow down your options based on the following:
- Does the show align with your company objectives?
- What reputation does the show have?
- Will your organization fit in with the other exhibitors?
- Do the logistics make sense for your business?
- Can you afford to attend the event? Consider all costs, including booth space rental, travel, staff expenses, etc.
9 Months – Define Your Goals and Plan for the Exhibit
Start by defining the goals you hope to achieve with your trade show booth. Do you want to boost brand awareness? Connect with leads? Network with colleagues? Gain competitive insight? Each event should have a unique purpose. Also, determine how you will measure this success. What will your benchmarks be?
When you know your reason for attending the conference, you can build a custom exhibit that helps you stay on track with your goals. Begin with the basics. What size and layout do you want? What features are a must? Do you want to incorporate virtual reality or innovative product displays? Working with an exhibit design firm ensures that you get the best possible trade show booth while addressing your specific needs.
6 Months – Generate Buzz
Now is the time to get people excited for the event. Hopefully there is already buzz surrounding the trade show and you can feed off of this. Not all conferences get a lot of PR… if this is the case, you have six long months to spread the word!
Use social media to your advantage. Share fun facts or post updates. Write about past experiences from the event (if you’ve attended before). Upload videos or do a countdown until your new product launching. Blogs, press releases, emails and even text messages can be used to share the news. Of course, nothing beats fun promotions and giveaways. People love free stuff, and it feels good to reward loyal customers.
3 Months – Finalize the Details
By this point, you should have most of the trade show details in place. Now it’s time for the finishing touches. Do you have meetings to plan? Dinners to schedule? Staff to train? If your custom exhibit has technology integrated, make sure that your staff knows how to operate it. Also, touch base with your installation and dismantle service to finalize shipping accommodations.
It’s hard to believe that it takes a full year to plan for a trade show! By breaking things down into smaller steps, you can focus on the right tasks at the right time. Ace Models created this super-helpful info-graphic for a quick visual of a general trade show timeline:
Courtesy of Ace Models