A step by step guide to tradeshow planning

A step by step guide to tradeshow planning

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or venturing into the world of tradeshows for the very first time, use this guide to plan for your next tradeshow or tradeshow season without missing any details.

1. Strategise
Research the tradeshows you’d like to attend in the next financial year in line with your business goals and marketing strategy over the next 12 months that have the potential to provide the biggest return on your investment.

Look at the announced keynote speakers – will they attract the masses? What kind of media coverage did the event secure from previous years? Are the other exhibitors and sponsors big names in the industry? How active is the tradeshow website and social media channels?

Your strategy should include what you aim to achieve from each show, including ROI forecast. Look at what was successful in previous years, in particular, returning to tradeshows where you achieved your KPIs.

2. Register
Many tradeshows and exhibitions open registrations for exhibitors months ahead of the actual event. However, it doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone to find out about their timeline and the cost associated with registration if this information has not yet been published. This way you can keep a schedule of timing and costs to keep your strategy on-track throughout the year. When you register, choose a booth space that is within budget but gives you the room to work in to achieve your goals.  Try nabbing a corner booth or one positioned opposite the entry to capture the attention of foot traffic from multiple directions.

A step by step guide to tradeshow planning

3. Map
Once you’ve registered and selected your booth space, you can begin to think about what display items you will need in your space. This is not only about what will fit in your allocated booth space but ties in with your overall strategy. Go back to why you’re going in the first place. For example, if you’re promoting or launching a new product you don’t need six freestanding counters, just place your product smack bang in the middle of your booth.

4. Design
Once you’ve determined what you need, get started on the design of your tradeshow display items. This is not just about your display wall and furniture but your promotional products too. Don’t just go with the cheapest option, strategically select promotional products that are in line with your overall strategy and branding.

While display print turnaround times are reasonably quick, if you’re working with a designer, it’s best to commence the design process of your display two to three months ahead of the event. This will allow time to collaborate and tweak the design to ensure you’re creating a design that suits your brand and your booth.

Perhaps you plan to attend four tradeshows throughout the year, all promoting a different product. In this case, your display wall should be versatile for use at all four; do this by keeping the design simple with your brand colours and brandmark. Don’t stress if you want a different look for each tradeshow, you can purchase displays that can have the skins changed, like our retractable banners and fabric walls.

A step by step guide to tradeshow planning

5. Communicate
Put together your key messages for the show and ensure the staff that are there on the day have been briefed and trained. There is too much competition and industry knowledge at a tradeshow, to generate sales leads or even convert them, your staff absolutely must know what they’re talking about. Make sure your staff are snap happy and share plenty of photos and videos of your booth throughout the show on your social media.

Prepare a marketing plan that includes pre and post tradeshow activities. Think about how you will promote your attendance ahead of the event and how you will pursue leads afterwards. This marketing plan will help determine your KPI’s like web traffic, social media engagement, media coverage and enquiries. This is why you shouldn’t limit your marketing to digital and social media, there are far more ways to communicate your message and make impressions.

If your tradeshow attendance is part of a bigger campaign, ensure that there is consistency across all your marketing channels. If you’re launching a new product, make yourself newsworthy and announce it with a media release to ascertain media coverage for wide-ranging audience reach.

A step by step guide to tradeshow planning

6. Coordinate
Book the travel, accommodation and car rentals for staff and determine how you will transport your booth displays to the venue. Smaller items are lightweight and portable and can be taken with staff on their travels.

Prepare a staff roster for the tradeshow. Think about exactly how many people you’ll need at the booth at one time, what the busy periods may be and schedule in breaks to keep your hardworking employees rested and energised.

Tradeshows also provide the opportunity to network within your industry with events and dinners hosted by key industry players. Buy event tickets for your staff to attend as both a reward and to benefit your business.

7. Learn
Finally, like with any business activity, take note of what worked and what didn’t work so you can improve for your next tradeshow. Experiment with different approaches and keep all parts of your strategy on brand down to the smallest details to cut-through the noise at any tradeshow.