Planning to attend a trade show can be overwhelming; having a clearly defined set of goals and a timeline can help you spread things out and ensure you have a successful show. From the initial strategizing and planning to the actual day of the event, here’s how to prepare for a successful show.
6 Months to 1 Year: Strategize
Which shows will you attend this year, and what are your goals? How much will it cost to attend and which shows are most likely to help you meet your goals? This is also the time to think about your booth and determine if any changes or additions are needed to suit the space you have in mind. Review last year's trade show survey results, look at your prospect data and fine tune your strategy for the year to come.
6 Months Before the Show
Start planning for the show by choosing your primary goals, deciding what products or services you’re most interested in showcasing and beginning your marketing strategy. Start building buzz now and your target prospects will be ready to stop by on the big day. This is also the time to book a block of rooms at your hotel (even if you don’t know which specific staffers will be there) and to order promotional items with your business name and information.
Gather information from the host to determine where your booth will be, how the show will be marketed and what materials they’ll need from you. If there is an official show or industry hashtag, now is the time to start using it.
3 Months Before the Show
Choose the staff who will be attending, clear schedules and make any travel arrangements you need to for the event. Work on your technology – what will you use to capture leads, to display presentations or simply entertain guests? Select a lead capture app for trade shows now and make sure everyone knows how to use it. You can also use this time to finalize your marketing materials and to make decisions on your promotional materials and choose a cohesive look for your booth staff.
One Month Before the Show: Finalize Preparations and Pack
Finalize everything, from your booth shipment to your branded materials and promotions. Meet with your show team to discuss the show and your goals and to hand out roles for the big day. Everyone should understand the goal of the show and their particular tasks – this is important if you are bringing along first timers or those who are not salespeople. Talk about lead generation and why making connections is important and make cheat sheets for anyone who needs them. This is also an ideal time to practice skills needed for the show and run through some sample conversational openings and demos with your team.
At the Show
You’ve laid in a lot of groundwork and the big day is here. Get the most from your show experience by getting out there and making connections. Greet visitors, capture leads and pass out promotional products; you’ll benefit from these connections for months to come. This is also an ideal time to make in person connections and sales visits you might otherwise have to travel to make.
After the Show: Follow-Up
One of the most important things you can do – and one of the most often missed – is to follow up with your prospects after the show. Organize the leads generated by your tradeshow lead capture app and distribute them to your sales team, answer any questions that arose and analyze your results to determine if this specific show is worth doing again next year. This is also the time to determine what worked well for your booth and the overall experience and what you might want to change next time. Following up with connections you made via social media and email can also help you solidify your relationship and ensure your brand is remembered long after the show has concluded.