Rome wasn’t built in a day; a trade show is no different. You need to put in a great deal of time and effort to be fully prepared. Now that’s not something you could do in a day or two or even a couple of months. And if you were to make an attempt, chances are that there’ll be quite a few last-minute hiccups to cope with, leaving you with nothing but stress.
One-Year Timeline For Trade Show Planning
12 Months To Go
Right in the very beginning, your marketing team should get down to identifying the objectives of participation – what is that your company could use? Some brand awareness? A few extra sales never hurt anyone. How about meeting the prospective customers? Or may be a combination of the three? Once you are clear on the objectives, work backwards to set aside a budget and more importantly forecast the expected ROI.
With 9 Months Left
Time for some action. Get your promotional material ready and think of ways to maximize the reach. Grab a booth space that could help you stand out from the crowd, and while you are at it, do inquire about the exhibit restrictions, if any. Come up with a pre, at and post-show marketing plan, and include anything and everything, right from social media promotions to lead nurturing techniques. Now’s also the right time to get your hands on some booth accessories, which could be just about anything, say a hanging banner or a custom-built exhibit sign.
Just 6 More Months
Get a trade show booth designer on board. Sit with them and finalize the exhibit design so that they could begin with the fabrication at the earliest. Depending on the size of the space and of course the products being marketed, zero in on a design that works for you. Make sure that right from the graphic designs to electrical layouts, everything’s been figured out. Goes without that saying that you need to vet the designer and see if their creative abilities, fabrication options, cost and projected delivery forecasts are in tandem with what’s best for your booth.
The Last 3 Months
Getting the booth built is one thing and having it shipped to the show is another. Complete the paperwork well in time so as to avoid any delay or penalty. Payments, if not already made, should be taken care of right away. Pick your staff and train them on how to man the booth and make the visitors feel welcomed. Changes in the booth design, if any, should be communicated now or they won’t be getting implemented anytime soon.
1 & Only Month
If you have kept up with the process, there’s nothing to worry about, but if you haven’t, well, better luck next time. Plan for your travel and hotel arrangements now, and make sure you are all set for the after-show parties. Reconfirm everything, and don’t leave anything to the last minute. At the show, it should be all about why you are there in the first place – your objectives.
A good trade show booth designer doubles up as a trade show management company, taking the burden off your shoulders, and leaving you with enough time to focus on maximizing your trade show ROI. Choose wisely!