Planning Ahead For Trade Shows

Part of your trade show preparation strategy should always include making time to plan ahead for the next one. If you’re a frequent trade show exhibitor and often have quick turnaround from event to event, build that into your trade show planning timeline so you’re always ahead. Nothing has the potential to ruin your trade show success like not being prepared and that comes with planning ahead.

What should be on your trade show checklist when it comes to planning ahead?

Change your strategy if necessary: While there is a certain audience you are looking to be in front of when you exhibit at a trade show, but each show is different and you might have attendees from different industries with different needs or mindsets. If you have a bit of crossover in industry when it comes to trade show you exhibit at, having a tailored strategy to hone in on key points of each industry will help your success.

Take inventory on displays and graphics: One of the biggest ways planning ahead will help you with is being able to take inventory on how your displays and graphics look. Give yourself built in time to decide if you need to replace a display or update your graphics.

Inventory Pt. II: Part of your trade show preparation strategy should be to always keep your own log of when you ship your trade show displays; weights, when they’re shipped to the show and back as well as any visible damage, receipts, etc.  Plan ahead to give yourself time to carefully look over receipts, paperwork as well as any possible new damage or issues with your displays after shipping from the last show. Update your log before getting ready to ship it again.

Save on shipping: Possibly the biggest reason to stick to a trade show planning timeline is to avoid having to rush to ship your displays to the show, pay rush fees or potentially miss a shipping deadline. All of those can be costly in a number of ways but when you plan ahead, you can avoid the stress of all of these things.

Promoting your booth: If you’re planning on promoting your booth ahead of the show (and you should), planning ahead gives you enough time to for those promotions to be more effective.  Social media and email are instantaneous but if you can reach potential attendees multiple times ahead of the trade show or use it to create pre-show dialogue with a potential customer, you’re already ahead of the game. Planning ahead to promote your booth also gives you time to use direct mail as a promotion as well.

Travel: Your trade show planning timeline should always include when to book flights, hotels and rental cars. The key to saving on those things is to book in advance. That’s hard to do when you don’t plan ahead. (Extra tip – book your flight on a Tuesday.)

Evaluate: When you plan ahead and can mark off everything on your trade show checklist, this gives you time to evaluate past trade shows as well. Giving yourself time between shows to be able to review what went well and what didn’t during previous shows can only help you improve at future ones. 

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