Guest post by Jessica Kane.
If you are like most business owners or managers, trade shows are part of your marketing plan for the coming year. In 2017, 79% of U.S. marketers generated sales using event marketing, and 80% said live events are critical to their company’s success.
But live events are expensive endeavors. So, you need to get the most out of your participation in every trade show. A key element in optimizing trade show participation is proper advance planning. Here’s a solid countdown protocol that you should consider utilizing when it comes to trade show preparation.
Six to 12 Months Out
Even as far out as a year before a trade show, there are three tasks you need to begin undertaking. Chief among them is deciding what trade show or trade shows you will attend during the coming year. The best practice is to be deliberate about selecting trade shows to attend, researching what type of companies, competitors, and media will be at each event.
Once you identify the shows you’ll attend during the coming year, be proactive about booking space. Be aware that when it comes to booking spaces for a trade show, not all locations in a venue have equal worth. You have a better chance of obtaining a premium space if you book early. You will also have to pay a bit more in the way of registration fee for a better situated space.
At the time you begin booking your trade shows, you’ll need to finalize your budget. The budget needs to be comprehensive for each trade show you plan on attending. It also needs to include an overall cost analysis for trade show spending for the coming year.
Four Months Out
At the four month mark, you need to start refining your trade show objectives. For example, you might set as a goal obtaining a specific number of leads during the course of a specific event.
Brainstorm creative ideas for how to attract more visitors to your trade show booth. Contests, giveaways, food, even the design of your exhibit booth and signage can positively impact your level of booth traffic.
Make sure you obtain all information you will need from the trade show organizer. This usually will include an exhibitor manual which spells out what you can and cannot do at the trade show. Make sure you are on the list to receive information about who will be attending the trade show. Similarly, make certain that you will be updated on who the other vendors will be at a particular trade show.
The four month mark is also when you need to start the process of designing your trade show booth. You might want to consider obtaining professional assistance in this regard. In addition, you will also want to pin down what you will be using in the way of printed materials at a trade show and ensure that they will be completed and available to you in time to carefully review and proof all collateral pieces before you ship them to the event venue.
Three Months Out
Three months before a trade show, begin assigning work schedules for individuals who’ll be staffing the booth. You will also want to make sure that you get travel and lodging arrangements in order for your trade show team at this time as well. You should have your printed materials in hand by this point.
Two Months Out
Trade show organizers provide different types of support services to vendors and exhibitors. At the two month mark, identify what support services will be available to you at the event. You need to order the services (electrical, set up labor, etc.) that you will need for the trade show at this time.
One Month Out
If you’ll be inviting customers, clients, or prospective buyers to visit you at a trade show, this is the time to do so. For example, depending on the trade show, you may be given access to the names and email address of planned attendees. This is the when you reach out to these participants and share with them what you will be offering at the trade show.
Make sure your booth team is trained, and up to date on exactly what you’ll be exhibiting or highlighting at the event. In addition, if you’re having materials and supplies shipped to the trade show site, this is the time to make those arrangements.
Two Weeks Out
Depending on what you will be doing at your trade show booth, two weeks out is when you need to make sure you are prepared to collect leads and possibly even undertake financial transactions at the trade show. This may include being able to process credit cards and accept cash, depending on your planned trade show activities.
Day of Trade Show
When the big day arrives, and the trade show is set to begin, you should have a smooth transition to opening your trade show booth. If you follow these planning milestones, you trade show participation will commence smoothly and without any major hitches.
Jessica is a professional blogger who writes for Faxage, a leading company that provide Internet fax service services for individuals and businesses.