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Trade Show Planning: Where to Start?

Often, when we get into trade show planning something pretty big, there’s more to do than we expect. Trade shows are no different. If you don’t properly plan for your next show, you may become overwhelmed with the process.

When you plan to attend a trade show, the planning takes months or even a full year. You have to start early or you may not be able to gain the ROI you want from the show. Here’s an outline of what you should start planning in the early stages.

One Year Before the Show or Earlier

A year before the show, you want to get your team together and discuss any past shows you have attended. Talk about the return on investment and the return on objective. This will help to determine the shows you should attend and how you can tweak your marketing to attract more attention.

You will also want to finalize contracts for exhibit space and exhibit positioning. This is also the proper time to discuss and finalize a budget for the expenses of the show.

9 to 12 Months Before the Trade Show

When you are about 9 months from the show, you want to make note of deadlines for payments and orders. Make sure you stay on top of these items so that you can get the best rates from hitting advanced deadlines.

You will also want to create a list of your needs for the event including:

  • Exhibit
  • Promotional Items
  • Marketing Materials
  • Image/Video Equipment
  • Products

Make sure you know what you need well in advance so you have time to research and plan.

This is also a good time to set your promotional goals for the trade show.

6 to 9 Months Before the Trade Show

At least six months before the event, you want to evaluate your exhibit. Make sure to make note of any repairs or modifications you want to make before the show. If you decide a new exhibit is necessary, this is the time to contact a professional exhibit designer.

This is also a good time to start putting your marketing plans in motion, such as pre-show direct mailers, marketing within the city of the show, sponsorships, and email campaigns. You can also start working on your sales pitch, which should only be about 30 seconds long or less.

Getting the sales pitch created will give you plenty of time to work on rehearsing it with your staff. Do this early and you will be able to build confidence in each staff member to help you maximize effectiveness.

Planning for a trade show takes time. You need to start early to take the pressure off you and your staff. Without proper planning, you may not reach your show goals.

Getting the most out of every show will help your business grow faster and easier. Follow this plan for the first six months of planning for your next trade show and you will be on track to reach your goals and get the most out of your next trade show.


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