The weeks leading up to a trade show can be exhilarating, stressful, easy, sleep-deprived, or completely relaxed. Every business experiences the preparation stage a little differently. But pretty much anyone who’s exhibited will tell you there is one running constant for every brand at every show: blink once, and the week of the event sneaks right up on you. And if your massive laundry list of to-do items is still massive when the show must go on tomorrow, this means trouble.
We know from experience that there are a few steps you can never skip when preparing for a trade show. These steps will give you the best chance of success and the clearest line of sight to help you see show day from a mile away.
When it comes to getting your people ready for a trade show, it’s almost impossible to start too early. Your first steps should include analyzing whether this trade show is the best for your business, and then quickly booking the booth space, starting on the budget, and booking travel if necessary. These steps should be taken care of at a minimum of six months in advance. From there, the show should be kept on the forefront of everyone’s minds – all employees should be part of the process somehow from the very beginning.
Your accountant isn’t the only person that has to have an eye for organization. Keep yourself tidy and task however you can, whether that be mapping out your own task spreadsheet spanning from now until the show, or something small like reorganizing your desk to be able to withstand the influx of trade show product and print materials without becoming overwhelming. At the very least you should create a company-wide comprehensive schedule tracking all timelines and clearly marking every deadline to communicate clearly how you expect to be ready by showtime. Also pay special attention to make sure all exhibit materials are scheduled for a timely delivery — you really don’t want to deal with extra delivery fees once the show has started, so prior planning is key.
Company-wide organization is also important for making sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to motive and intention. You have your own reason for choosing to attend this show, but your team might not be aware of it and steer things in a different direction. Start a conversation that addresses the really important questions: Why this show and not another? Who are you targeting and what kind of action do you want them to take? What will have made the show a “success” in your mind? The answers will guide both your team and your exhibit design heavily.
Right around the time you’re booking your spot at the show, make sure your customers (and potential customers) know you’ll be attending the show and what they can expect. A couple of months in advance is a great time to announce giveaways, contests, and tease any major launches you have planned for showtime. As long as you stay on top of your advertising efforts and give your target audience time to plan, you’ll be in a good spot and see better attendance because of it.
There are lots of things you can do right off the bat to prepare your company and yourself for a great trade show run. Starting with these will help you (and help us help you) design a killer booth and sow the seeds for a strong presence and flawless execution. If you’d like to get started today, contact us by phone at 1-877-381-9133 (EXT 3), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.