January signals the start of the 2013 trade show season. The time when every company takes stock of the success of the shows from the previous year, and moves forward with a fresh perspective and renewed energy for marketing their business. Some companies have a dedicated trade show associate who is famililar with the routine and has the execution of details down to a fine science. For the rest of the corporate world, a trade show checklist can be a helpful tool when the task falls to one or two willing individuals who stayed in the room just long enough to be “volunteered” for this sometimes daunting assignment.
- Fill out and submit application. This provides the opportunity to submit payment and secure booth space. Tip: best booth space is at a high traffic location that limits congestion (no exits, entrances or restrooms)
- Confirm exhibitor services & accessories. Carpet, table, chairs, curtains, electrical, wi-fi, audio-visual, telephone, housekeeping, lighting and security. Tip: most trade show organizers will include this information in the exhibitor packet, but it is always prudent to check everything against your own internal list.
- Prepare booth. The construction, layout and graphics of the booth should allow easy display of all product, with creative methods of highlighting new merchandise or services. Tip: the money saved on a smaller booth space or fewer shows could be well spent on better display graphics to maximize the experience for the customer
- Order promotional materials. Advertising, print material, product give-aways, pre-show mailings, and customer hospitality items. Tip: allow for a minimum of three to four weeks lead time for delivery of custom branded products
- Make reservations for booth staff. Airlines, hotels, ground transportation and dinner reservations should be made as far in advance as possible. Tip: respect for the comfort of the staff will pay high dividends with a positive attitude at the show
- Establish shipping logistics. Arrival, labeling, storage, and return of all shipped items should be determined and confirmed with carrier and trade show manager. Tip: poorly labeled packages have a way of getting lost
- Follow up on all leads! Do this in the first week after the show. Confirming the possibility of a sale, or even casual interest for future consideration, will provide valuable feedback for the next trade show. Tip: potential customers want to hear from you, but it’s unlikely they will make the time to place the first call
Trade shows are an effective way to reach new audiences, but only if they are well executed without any embarrassing glitches. Make a list and check it every day until the show is over and you’re back at your desk – you will be glad you did!
(Image via photopin)