Trade shows typically only last a few days, but the planning that goes into them takes far longer – in fact, it should begin as far as a year in advance. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to do and when.
T-minus 12 months: Look into the trade show options within your industry, then zero in on the one(s) that will best complement your brand’s marketing and sales strategy. Research the event(s) – previous exhibitors, attendee demographics, the size of the venue, etc. – then use this information to put together a budget and ROI projection.
T-minus nine months: Establish specific objectives related to lead generation and product sales, register with the event sponsor, come up with a trade show booth idea and create a marketing plan.
T-minus six months: Develop a sales message, begin building your exhibit, start designing the promotional materials you’ll hand out at the event as well as those you’ll use to advertise your appearance beforehand.
T-minus three months: Put together a staff schedule, begin making travel arrangements, figure out display shipment details and order promotional items. Make sure everything is proceeding according to plan, because time is running out!
T-minus one month: Finalize shipment plans, staffing requirements and travel arrangements, and train staff if necessary. Ramp up your pre-show marketing as the clock ticks down. By the time the event is a week away, all of the elements on your event checklist should have been accomplished.
If you follow the timeline laid out above, you’ll be in good shape heading into the exhibit hall – but your efforts shouldn’t end there. Remember to do post-show follow-up with prospects, or all your hard work thus far may go to waste!
Need help with your email follow-up? Download the Exhibitor’s Guide to Email Follow-Up with Four Proven Templates