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Steps to Success - Planning Your Next Trade Show


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Making the decision to participate as a vendor in a trade show is a commitment. You are pledging your time, money, energy, and other resources. You involve your staff. You put much effort into the planning process.

Before you leave for the next trade show, confirm all of your reservations. Ensure that your travel plans, hotel, rental car, and other accommodations are in place. If you are traveling to place you have not been before, research the address in advance. Know where it is that you are actually going and how long it takes to arrive there from the airport you are flying into. Check in with the trade show venue to also confirm your booth space for the event. It is a good idea to create a folder for each of these trade shows you attend. Label the folder with date and name of the event. During your travels, keep track of all receipts and expenditures for tax purposes. Also include inside of it the confirmation and itinerary packets created by the trade show administrators. Upon returning home after the event, you can store the trade show receipts and keep them organized chronologically. Should you need to refresh your memory about the place you stayed last year or obtain a dollar amount for the IRS, the information will be compiled, together, and on hand.

Weeks before the event, your promotional literature should be printed. Have all brochures, graphics, banners, PowerPoint presentations and other items updated and packaged carefully. It is wise to also bring back up files of this information via a jump drive, CD, or laptop. This way in the event that your hard copies are damaged or lost during your departure, you have a way to have the information reprinted at a shop near your destination.

Set some goals for the trade show. What is it that you want to accomplish? Get specific with yourself and your staff. Do you want to attract a certain number of new clients? Do you want to assemble a mailing list of at least fifty new people? Do you want to reach a certain dollar amount in sales? Make your objectives real and attainable, but also impressive. Communicate these to staff and refresh everyone of them each morning of the event.

Beforehand, select your method of a follow up approach. Are you sending out thank you notes? Are you mailing additional materials? Are promotional items involved, such as promotional yardsticks, mugs, pens, business card magnets, mints or bags? Is it a sales letter only? By establishing this in advance and creating the materials ahead of time, you can effectively assemble or address these follow up pieces at the trade show while it is going on. As you connect with new people, simply create a follow up package for them to be sent from your office after you return. Bring stamps along with you to the trade show, so that all that is needed of you is to personally address each packet and inscribe a special message. Being this prepared allows you to stay one step ahead of the game.

Have a uniform or dress code in place. Customized tee shirts, pull overs, golf shirts, hats, or jackets are all functional in that they add an element of professionalism to your trade show booth as well as market your company. In addition to the attire, review the code of conduct with your staff and communicate your expectations for behavior and etiquette for the show.

Take time to pack carefully and avoid emergency trips to the store or print shop. Bring an ample supply of business cards, marketing media, and promotional gifts. Also pack with you back up computer files, computer equipment (like battery packs and headphones and adaptors), cellular phone(s) and the correct chargers for phone(s), pads of paper for brainstorming and note taking, all itinerary information, company uniforms, pertinent reading material, and proper identification.

At your office, leave appropriate contact information for clients should they need to be in contact with you. Get your workspace organized and comfortable for you to return to it after the end of the trade show. Check in with your employees and eave enough work for them to stay busy and productive while you are away.

To eliminate some of the stress and hassle of setting up and efficiently running your next trade show event, create a personal checklist for yourself of preliminary tasks such as these. Determine what it is you personally need to accomplish and the necessary items you need to bring. Save your list on your computer and refer to it often. Update it and customize it as you become more familiar with your own trade show process. Ask your assistant or another employee to be responsible for each task being completed.

Author: Rick Sheldon has 18 years experience in the Promotional Products Industry and is currently CEO of Save on Promotional Products Inc. a Discount Online Promotional Products Company He can be contacted at 1-800-826-8706; email: or go to our site: Promotional Yardsticks


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