Exhibiting at a trade show can be a sizable investment for many businesses, but making the most out of every event is essential for new leads and impressing customers. One of the best ways to increase your trade show ROI is by taking time on the front end to make a detailed plan for each trade show.
To be most effective, you must align your program goals with corporate objectives, determine the appropriate budget required to reach those goals and build consensus with all stakeholders regarding expected returns. Then comes the difficult task of identifying the many steps, with their associated deadlines, needed to make each event a success. Here’s a detailed timeline for how to effectively plan a show.
6 to 12 Months Prior to Event
In the earliest stages of planning, you’re mostly going to focus on the logistics of booking an exhibit space and initiating the exhibit design process that will best represent your brand in that space. The first step is identifying the amount of space you will need for your booth and any add-ons. Then, you need to register and reserve your spot with the event sponsor. Once registered, the organizers should supply you with a detailed explanation of show policies.
After registration, develop a marketing strategy for the event that is in line with corporate objectives that includes a compelling sales message that you and your staff will focus on throughout the planning and execution of the show.
If you are building a new custom booth, you will need to immediately begin working on a design with your exhibit house. If you are updating an existing booth, you will also need to quickly communicate your plans so the exhibit design team will deliver the best solution to meet your business needs.
Technology-based interactive engagements are becoming a “must-have” at most trade shows. The strategy and plans for these, and other booth activities, need to be planned during this time to ensure quality execution and to keep the projects within the allotted budget.
The last step in this stage is planning any giveaways or literature you will have available for attendees to take with them.
3 to 6 Months Prior to Event
The main function of this phase is executing previous planning and identifying any important tasks you need to resolve closer to the show. Order the giveaways and promo items you previously decided on, and inspect all incoming orders. Reorder any purchases that are unsatisfactory or damaged.
At this stage, you’ll determine the amount of staff you will need for the show. Then, you can begin assessing training needs, travel arrangements and expense projections. If you have any pre-show marketing initiatives, you’ll launch them around the 3-month prior mark.
1 Week to 3 Months Prior
You’re almost there! The show is steadily approaching, and most of your planning should be completed. This last phase is finalizing the details. Confirm that all deliveries have either been received or are scheduled to arrive at the show on the correct dates.
Contact whomever is conducting your training and be sure your staff is fully prepared for the show. Voice any new products or services that should a part of in-booth conversations. The last thing you need to do before the show begins is to review your timeline, and double-check that all pre-show plans, steps and goals have been completed.
Don’t be anxious about making the investment of attending a tradeshow. Have a distinct plan, use a detailed timeline, and be thorough with your self-review process. If you take these steps, there’s a good chance you’ll be satisfied with the ROI you’re getting from your event. Exhibitus is a custom exhibit design company that has a whole division focused on getting its customer the highest return possible. Contact us today to learn how you can get a custom display and see results from a show!