Trade Show Checklist

I’ve planned, worked and attended a lot of trade shows in my career and if there’s one thing I’ve learned…it’s hard work. Really, it’s exhausting.  From the pre-planning, the meetings, the paperwork, the herding of cats (aka, sales team), the packing, the set up, the clean up, etc, it’s a lot of work!

But nothing compares when you are in the moment and your boss and/or client is smiling, happy and proud of their team.  That feels pretty good and makes all the planning and hard work worth it.

You can plan everything down to the last letter, but there are going to be things that go wrong that are out of your control:  your supplies haven’t arrived in time, all the cords for the monitor are for PC’s but you have a Mac, the chocolate candy is all melted (well that’s just sad).  There are a million tiny things that can go wrong that can throw someone into full scale DEFCON 5 mode.  The trick…be prepared, a Boy Scout is always prepared!  Can you tell I’m a Boy Scout mom?   Make sure you over-prepare and have the tools you need at your fingertips when something does go wrong.  Have all your contact numbers with you at all times, your order form confirmations, etc.  Thankfully, the Internet is always at your fingertips if something is missing or not right 90% of the time you can find something that will work and get it delivered quickly.

Here is my checklist of items that help me prepare:

  • Where:
    • Where will the event be located?
    • Is there a specific hall/floor number?
    • Booth number?
    • Do you have a map of the exhibit hall so you can visually see where you are and who is nearby?
  • When:
    • Make sure you have the show calendar:
      • When is set up?
      • What are the exhibit or show hours?
      • When is teardown?
      • When are you supposed to have all your supplies packed and moved out
  • Plan your marketing strategy
    • Who are you marketing to, get a pre-show and post show list.
    • Pre-show marketing (tweeting, email, etc) – what is your message? Are you having a big drawing, which, the answer is YES, you should have a drawing….great ideas for giveaways are always gift cards, spa packages, toys such as a drone.  How about an Apple WatchTM?  Be creative and make sure you let all the attendees know what you’re giving away and where they can find you.
    • Make sure you have a social media calendar…tweet! Tweet during the show, include the show hashtag information….just keep tweeting!
  • Service Vendors
    • Always take advantage of the early discount rates if you can. Usually vendors like to know in advance so they can prepare as well, and 90% of them will offer a discount rate if you order a month ahead of time.
  • Send materials to the warehouse beforehand
    • This is important! Don’t send your supplies direct to the hotel.  If there is a Convention management company handling the show services, they will have a warehouse you can ship all the materials directly to the warehouse.  Then on move in day they will bring all your materials to your booth.  It makes your life so much easier.  Use it!
  • Promotional items
    • You need to have something to give away, make it FUN or useful – something they would want – the point is to make it MEMORABLE. You want them to remember you.
    • Let them touch the merchandise. We tell our kids, “Don’t touch!”  But the truth is…we ALL love to touch.
  • Look around, see what other companies are doing right, and what they are doing wrong. Either way it may give you some great ideas for your next show!
  • Train the staff!
    • Make sure they know the objective, which is and ALWAYS should be….GET THE CONTACT INFORMATION! Scan their badge, get a business card, something.  You want to keep marketing to them after the show.
    • Make sure you have one person responsible for taking those leads and uploading them into whatever sales tool you use to start marketing to them. Whatever the process is make sure you all know who is responsible so you don’t miss out on the opportunity.
    • And the last tip for you…wear good shoes, save the stilettos for another day!

Contact Iconic Orange if you need help with your event planning and promotional marketing needs for your next event.