Trade shows are big undertakings. They take planning, organization, a good staff and plenty of focus.
First off, you should hire a qualified company to help with organizing and setting up your show. Buehler Moving has the experience and skill to help with all logistics related to any trade show set up, planning or moving.
Once you’ve settled on a company to help with the heavy work, it’s time to get very organized and set strict timelines and objectives. Ideally, the planning work should begin at least six months before the event.
Here’s a handy timeline to follow. It’s best to break down the list on a month-to-month basis and start the process six months in advance.
Six months to the show:
This is the official start to your event. So now is the time to set all your key objectives and goals. Keep the list to three to five key goals. Don’t overload things.
Five months to the show:
This is a good time to set your budget. The budget will be based on the goals and objectives you outlined at the start of the process. As with any project, the budget sets the tone for everything to come. Create a budget you can afford. The last thing you want is to run short of funds before the event gets started. Make a realistic budget and stick to it.
One of your goals will be to make money off the event. That will require creating a strong estimate on how much you will get out of the trade show. Be certain that you have a solid grasp on the budget, and the returns on the trade show investments before getting started. If you’ve produced successful trade shows in the past, use the successes followed in previous events for the future ones.
Examine the kinds of trade show booths or set ups needed for the event. Consider the possibility of building your own booths based on your specific needs.
Four months to the event:
There are lots of trade show apps on the market. It’s well worth the effort to look at the various apps and see if any are of use for your event. Technology tools can help with marketing, social media, and communication needs for the event. Learn which tools will work best for you. This will require some research time. Get busy and let technology be your friend.
Three months to the event:
Be sure to check out the show’s location and website. Be certain where the trade show will take place and make sure the location, space and overall site environment meets your requirements. Find out where your location will be within the trade show. Some shows let you pick your own location within the show. Now is a good time to nail down that slot. You will want a good spot inside the show.
Three months out is also a good time to work on promoting the show. You will need to market yourself for the show, so start this process early. Determine what you need to stand out inside the show. Think about signs, banners and anything that adds a touch of excitement to your booth.
Two months to the event:
It’s getting close now, hopefully you are under budget and ready to promote the event. This is the time to create your printed materials. Get all your materials designed and have brochures ready to be printed. These things can take time, so don’t hesitate.
With just two months to go, now is a good time to get your staff on board. If you need uniforms or anything that creates a specific look, now is the time to place those orders.
With two months to go, you have time to arrange all travel plans, hotels, meals, etc.
One Month to the event:
Be certain that all your promotional materials, brochures, etc. have been ordered and are in the process of being finished. Get your staff ready by providing training for the event. If everything looks good, now is a good time to ship all your material to the trade show organizers.
In the weeks before the event, go over your checklist. Make sure you have not missed anything. Prepare all your materials. Make sure everything is ready to go.
Get your team psyched. Go over all last minutes instructions and needs and set up for the event.
Once the trade show is done, break down all the materials, make any follow up calls to those who showed interests in your products. Get these potential customers on board with you. Don’t lose sight of any potential leads established at the show.
Did you meet or exceed your budget? Take a look. Consider any mistakes made, or cost overruns to avoid in the future.
Analyze the entire show. Did you meet your objectives? Did anything fall short. Take notes, pay attention and use this as a learning exercise for the future.