Trade Shows are essential for business growth because they are great forums for meeting new customers, suppliers and creating partnerships. They also provide a unique opportunity to poll and assess your consumer needs. Attending trade shows has the power to boost your business and is an important part of business marketing.
Registering your company for a trade show may not seem like a daunting task, but venturing to do so without preparation can set your company up for failure. Timing! Timing! Timing! – is everything. You don’t want to be forced into a decision because of time constraints. You will save money by avoiding rushed production charges or expensive expedited shipping of booth materials. Not to mention travel and hotel expenses for employees. Considering these basic bullet points and timeframes will help you navigate through the process.
1. Decide which trade shows you want to attend that year (Recommended 12 months before):
- What is your budget/marketing strategy
- Check past attendance records
- Check where your competition has set up in the past
- Check locations: Depending on your company’s service area, don’t rule out due to distance
2. Register (Recommended 9-12 months before):
- Register early so your company shows up on the attendee list
- Read contract carefully. Take note of due dates and payment terms
- Attain an advertising banner on the registration page
- Send in space application and first payment (again timing is everything, get the worm!)
- Select primary vendors: exhibit house, transportation company, installation/dismantle supplier (Recommended 4-6 months before) and take advantage of pre-pay discounts
- Identify promotions and /or give-away items (Recommended 4 months before)
- Produce show literature and marketing materials (Recommended 4 months before)
- Make airline, hotel and car reservations and order staff badges (Recommended 2 months before)
- Carefully read exhibitors manual (Recommended 2 months before)
4. The Booth:
- Develop your sales plan
- Review existing exhibit, design new or upgrade (Recommended 6 months before)
- Develop exhibit floor plan (Recommended 4 months before)
- Prepare paperwork and submit orders for in-booth audio visual presentation/demonstration display (Recommended 2 months before)
- Prepare display products, literature and all materials for shipping (Recommended 1 month before) & check on freight arrival when you first get to the trade show
5. After the show
- Handle leads
- Send thank-you notes
- After show review; how did it go, where can improvement be made
6. Grosh experiences at different tradeshows; what we learned.
- Didn’t schedule enough time to set up our in-office pre-show meeting! (Recommended 2 months before): We learned that it is best to have a “dress rehearsal” and a general overview meeting before arrival to avoid last minute confusion.
- Develop booth staff information binder with copies of all orders, vendor contact information and return shipping labels. (If applicable: insurance documents and engineering certificate for exhibit)
- During show, reserve next year’s space: We found that since you are already at the show it is the best time to find preferable booth space and have the reservation in the bag!