You committed to a trade show, now what?

Pre-show preparation is key to success and achieving a return on your investment


Step one in your trade show plan is goal setting. What do you really want to happen at this show? Knowing the outcome is key to effective goal setting.

  • Can you expect actual sales and signed purchase agreements?
  • Are you introducing a new product, feature, or service?
  • Is your goal to improve and strengthen the relationships with the customers you know will be in attendance?
  • Or, perhaps you are attending to create stronger relationships with other vendors and exhibitors
  • Lastly, media relations and creating opportunities for editors to write about your company is a worthwhile goal with long-term benefits.

Check out the full section of pre-show planning in our eBook Trade Shows for Manufacturers Guide.

One of the best tools for pre-show planning is the exhibitor handbook. This should be made available as soon as you commit to the show. Rules, order forms, sponsor information will be detailed. Make sure to order on time and secure valuable sponsorship opportunities before they are gone.

Once you have defined your goal, consider the theme of the event. Is your theme a one-time use or do you anticipate a motif across multiple shows for the year? While a baseball theme could work in the spring or an Olympics theme is tied to a particular season/year, a sports theme across an entire year offers more opportunity to engage your audience with varying promotions.

As you develop your booth, theme, and tactics, turn your attention to activities that will drive prospects to your booth. What advertising opportunities, online and in print are being offered? What about announcements to the show media? Many publications publish pre-show guides months in advance. Do you have news or announcements that should be in these trade publications? What about demonstrations at the booth or press conferences? Yes, there is a lot to consider ahead of the show. With proper, thoughtful planning you will arrive ready to tackle the challenge of the show.

Next week, we will discuss Owning the Floor with During the Show planning.


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