Written by Valerie Hurst, Skyline Central Ohio.

Another year of trade shows is here! But how do you begin planning for all of them? Here are six tips to get you started:

1. Create Your Show Schedule:

Create your show schedule if you haven’t already with show dates, locations, booth sizes and booth numbers. You want to ensure you don’t have overlapping shows that would cause you to need to rent or purchase another exhibit. Use your trade show schedule to set dates in the future to ensure that you are prepared for your shows. If your show is in April, set a date in February to ensure your exhibit is ready,  and your plans are set.

2. Determine Your Exhibiting Goals:

Are you exhibiting to attain new clients, launch a product, meet existing clients, or all of the above? Exhibiting requires a strategy to best attain your goals, and every item on this list should be a part of meeting or exceeding these goals.

3. Determine if your Chosen Shows are Worthwhile:

Are the shows you are planning to exhibit at worthwhile for you? Or do you need to research new shows to explore opportunities.

4. Examine Your Trade Show Graphics:

Do you need new messaging? Do your graphics convey what you need them to in the 7 seconds (or less) that an attendee will view them while walking down the aisle? Do your graphics match and support your trade show objective? Should your graphics change from show to show to compliment your targeted demographic?

5. Assess Your Engagement Strategy:

How are you engaging with attendees at the show? With an open-ended question? A promotional giveaway? A product demo? A game? Show survey? Show planning is not just about the exhibit properties you use, but how your booth staffers engage with attendees. Start planning your pre-show and at-show promotions long before the show so that you can train your staffers and equip them with the tools they’ll need to engage attendees. Your booth staff is your company’s face at the show, so make sure they are well-prepared and are able to interact with attendees.

6. Determine How You Will Retrieve Leads and Measure Success:

How will you measure each show’s success? Collect business cards the old fashioned way? Use a smartphone app? Use the show’s lead system? Not sure what the best way is to gather leads? Check this out. Whatever you decide, begin planning your post-show follow up now, so you will be able to measure your show’s successes and be able to attain a budget for 2019!

As trade shows are the largest marketing expenditure for a business, pre-show planning is critical to ensure cost-effective resources and show success. Many trade show coordinators have a myriad of other responsibilities, so often trade shows are planned at the last minute. Get ahead of the schedule by reviewing it now and discussing it with your team and exhibit consultant as needed.

Need more Trade Show Tips? Click here

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