The prospect of planning for a trade show can seem like a daunting task. After all, overlooking the smallest thing may result in a day-of calamity that affects the viability of your lead generation efforts and compromises the impact you intend to have on the audience - not exactly the impression you're aiming to make.
When sitting down to write an event checklist, you'll likely find you have a lot of ideas at first. Holding a brainstorming session is a great approach if you're just looking to get everything down on paper, but you'll need to come up with a more structured list down the road. Once you're ready to take that step, consider breaking everything up by using several common questions as a base.
The question of "Who?" can be broken into two parts: Who is the audience you're targeting, and who will be manning the booths on either side of yours? Knowing your audience is a basic and virtually self explanatory step - if you're not familiar with the likes and interests of your target demographic, you probably won't be able to effectively appeal to its members - but you might not even be thinking about what's going on at neighboring booths.
Sometimes, exhibitors get so wrapped up in prepping for a trade show that they forget about what comes after. Asking "What is my post-show plan?" will encourage companies to commit to deploying effective follow-up strategies.
If you're planning a trade show, setting up a calendar is crucial. Entrepreneur Magazine's Lisa Girard recommended kicking off preliminary planning six months to a year in advance, then setting four-, three-, two- and one-month benchmarks, with weekly and day-of goals after those.
The location of a trade show dictates a lot about the event itself, both in terms of the specific venue and the surrounding municipality, so you need to make sure you know what you're getting into.
"Going to Orlando is totally different animal than going to San Francisco, Chicago and other union-driven convention centers," pointed out Maureen Burke, senior account director at Nth Degree, as quoted by Entrepreneur.
There are several main reasons companies decide to partake in trade shows. Each calls for them to approach the undertaking a little differently, and it's important to have a solid idea of the motivation behind your participation so you can align your event-planning accordingly. Are you debuting new products? Drumming up buzz about your brand? Nurturing relationships?
If you have an event plan in place that answers all of the above questions, consider yourself well-positioned for trade show success.