Trade shows are a great opportunity to expand your brand’s reach and network with other professionals in your field. Exhibitor Online explained that only 28 percent of a given trade show’s attendees are from within 200 miles of the event – where else can you market to such a diverse group of customers in a single location?
However, you don’t want to waste this chance to grow your business. Even if your chosen trade show is over a year away, you should start preparing well ahead of the event itself. This way, you’ll have an accurate budget, plenty of promotional giveaways and – at the end of the show – more business cards and new clients than you can count.
12 to 9 months out
Though it doesn’t hurt to start planning even earlier, Trade Show Advisor recommended nailing down two things before your desired trade show is less than nine months away. First, you’ll want to come up with specific objectives you hope to achieve at the show. Do you need to bring in new clients, or are you trying to make connections with other businesses in your field for new partnerships down the road? Break everything down into numbers if possible – this will help you measure goals against results to tell you whether your trade show experience was a success.
TSA also explained that establishing clear objectives so far ahead of the event allows businesses to set a realistic budget. If you just want to meet other professionals, you might not need much overhead, but if you plan on interacting with clients and other attendees, promotional giveaways are a must. Budget for everything you need now so you’re not blindsided by costs later.
9 to 6 months out
Once you have all the conceptual work out of the way, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty details that will determine success or failure on the trade show floor. Before you’re half a year away from your event, Exhibitor magazine explained that you should start working on the pitch your sales representatives will use during conversations with attendees. The best pitches do their work in less than 30 seconds, but parsing your entire business into half a minute can be tough – that’s why you need all the time you can get to find the selling points and overall message that works for your brand.
This is also the perfect time to plan your physical presence at the trade show. Most companies rent out floor space when they can build small booths or displays, but there are so many different directions you can go with the design of your space. Will you go with a traditional table and banner setup or will you draw clients in with a design that turns your booth into a walkable space?
6 to 3 months out
Once you pass under the six month mark, it’s time to kick your preparation into high gear. This is the perfect time to order those promotional products you budgeted for so many months ago.
Because most trade shows draw a good number of attendees, you’ll want to order enough individual personalized products so you don’t run out. Myron’s Oscar Stylus Rollerball Pen combines affordability with functionality – the opposite end of the pen can be used to operate touch screens on smartphones, laptops and more. Customize it with your brand’s logo and a short pitch for guaranteed exposure.
3 months to showtime
The remaining weeks before the trade show should be spent on pre-event marketing activities, travel arrangements and staff training. However, if you’ve made it to this point and have all your promotional products ready to go like ducks in a row, odds are your trade show experience will leave you as satisfied as your sales numbers in the following months.