Advance Planning Key to Trade Show Success

But doing shows right takes a major commitment of financial and human assets. Planning ahead and budgeting accordingly are the keys to maximizing results and getting the most from your trade show investment. So before you pack up the booth and hit the show trail go over this brief checklist. We've designed it to help you think through the entire process before you begin.

1. Determine Strategy.

What do you want to get from your efforts? Set goals now and plan to attain them. This process becomes the foundation for our future action plans and creative executions.

1. Exposure and awareness for new company launch.

2. Specific number goals ... contacts, prospects, sales.

3. Trade announcements and coverage.

4. Key contact targeting.

2. Review a calendar of all events in your industry. Look at all the shows, major and minor, and choose those that best fit your budget and strategy.

3. Sketch out a rough plan covering pre-show, show and post-show promotions, exhibit structure, graphics, booth staff, show services, hospitality, and transportation.

4. Finalize booth design and graphics requirements.

5. Determine company literature needs to meet show promotional requirements.

6. Finalize show schedule. Submit all contracts and deposits. Make hotel and travel arrangements and reserve hospitality suites or conference rooms.

7. Finalize all preliminary plans and determine final budget.

8. Create a production deadline schedule noting critical milestones along the way and distribute to all personnel concerned.

9. Select booths exhibit staff and determine their availability to meet show schedule.

10. Display your booth number in pre-show advertisements to increase awareness and exhibit traffic.

11. Develop and mail a pre-show announcement to your prospects and registered show attendees. Include a special promotional offer to increase traffic at your booth.

12. Develop editorial liaisons, public relations strategy and press kit for trade publications and show distribution.

13. Set up your exhibit in a "dry run" to ensure all problems are eliminated.

14. Make any necessary shipping arrangements.

15. Prior to each show develop VIP contact lists and specific strategy for that show.

16. After the show distribute and follow up on all sales leads and orders.

17. Track results and prepare a thorough evaluation of show participation results.

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