The Ultimate Trade Show Checklist

Tradeshow Visitors rushing in a modern hall

The Ultimate Trade Show Checklist

Anyone who’s been involved in sales or sales support for a business is likely familiar with the concept of a trade show. Trade shows can be an effective marketing and sales tool. But for the uninitiated, exactly what is a trade show?

A trade show, also known as a trade fair or expo, is an event where businesses in a particular industry showcase their products and services to potential customers, partners, and investors. Additionally, they can offer an opportunity to check out the competition and network with other businesses in the same industry.

Trade shows are usually held at a convention center or exhibition hall and can last for several days. They are typically organized around a specific theme or industry, such as technology, health care, or fashion.

If your company is planning to attend a trade show, it’s important to make the proper preparations to ensure your effort is a success. Trade show attendance requires a significant investment, but it can pay big dividends.

Here's a comprehensive checklist for trade show exhibitors:

The trade show booth

Creating an engaging and visually appealing trade show booth is critical to attracting attendees and standing out from competitors. Here are some trade show booth ideas to consider:

  • Interactive displays: Incorporate interactive displays such as touch screens, virtual reality, or augmented reality to engage attendees and create an immersive experience.

  • Creative signage: Use creative signage and graphics to communicate your message and brand identity, and to make it easy for attendees to find and recognize your booth.

  • Giveaways: Offer branded trade show giveaways or promotional items that attendees can take with them as a reminder of your brand and message.

  • Live presentations: Schedule live presentations or demonstrations at regular intervals throughout the event to generate interest and draw attendees to your trade show table.

Six months before the show

Preparing for a trade show six months in advance can help ensure that you have enough time to plan, execute, and follow up on all aspects of the event. Here are some key preparations to consider:

  • Establish goals: Determine what you hope to achieve from the trade show, such as generating leads, increasing brand awareness, or launching a new product.

  • Outline your budget: Create a budget for the event and determine how much you can allocate for booth space, trade show equipment, marketing materials, travel expenses, pop-up banners, and other costs.

  • Research the event: Research the trade show and determine the size, scope, and audience. Also, review the event schedule and consider participating in any relevant seminars, speaking opportunities, or networking events.

  • Choose a booth location: Determine the best location for your booth based on the event layout, foot traffic, and competitors.

  • Plan your marketing: Develop a marketing plan to promote your participation in the trade show. Consider email campaigns, social media, paid advertising, trade show games, and other tactics to attract attendees to your booth.

  • Develop collateral: Create branded marketing materials such as brochures, flyers, business cards, and giveaways to distribute to attendees.

  • Train your staff: Train your staff on the event objectives, messaging, and how to engage with attendees.

Two months before the show

As the trade show approaches, there are several important steps to take to ensure that you are fully prepared. Here are some things to consider two months before a trade show:

  • Finalize your exhibit design: Make sure your exhibit design is finalized and ready to go. Confirm with your designer or exhibit vendor that all the materials are ready, and the booth space is reserved.

  • Order promotional materials: Finalize orders for all trade show promotional items such as branded giveaways, brochures, flyers, and business cards.

  • Plan your travel and accommodations: Finalize your travel plans, hotel accommodations, and transportation arrangements.

  • Schedule meetings: Schedule appointments with existing customers, prospects, and partners who you want to meet at the event.

  • Prepare for shipping: If you are shipping any materials or products to the event, make sure to coordinate the logistics with your shipping provider.

  • Plan your social media strategy: Develop a social media strategy for promoting your participation in the event. Create content that generates excitement and interest in your brand and encourages attendees to visit your booth.

Days before the show

As the dates of the trade show approach, you will want to ensure that everything is in order and that your team is fully prepared. Here are some steps to take in the days preceding the show:

  • Finalize your booth setup: Make sure your booth is ready for the event. Confirm with the event organizers the details of your booth location and make sure you have all the necessary equipment and supplies.

  • Conduct a dry run: Set up your booth as you would during the event and conduct a dry run with staff to make sure everything runs smoothly.

  • Pack your materials: Pack all the materials you need for the event, including promotional materials, giveaways, and any products or equipment you will be showcasing.

  • Conduct a final check: Ensure everything is in order and that you have all the necessary items for the event.

  • Arrive early: Arrive at the event venue early enough to allow time for setup and any last-minute adjustments.

During the show

During the trade show, you will want to make the most of the opportunity to connect with attendees, showcase your products and services, and generate leads. Here’s an example show plan:

  • Engage with attendees: Be approachable and engage with attendees who visit your booth. Ask questions, share information about your products and services, and make a connection with potential customers.

  • Collect leads: Collect contact information from attendees who visit your booth and express interest in your products or services. Use a lead capture system or collect business cards to follow up with them after the event.

  • Attend networking events: Attend networking events, seminars, and other activities scheduled during the event to connect with attendees and industry peers.

  • Collaborate with partners: Connect with partners or other exhibitors at the event to explore potential collaborations or partnerships.

  • Stay active on social media: Continue to post updates and photos from the event on social media to generate buzz and attract attendees to your booth.

After the show

After the trade show, it's important to follow up with the leads you generated and evaluate your performance. Here are some steps to take once the event is over:

  • Follow up with leads: Follow up with the leads you generated, either by phone or email, to continue the conversation.

  • Evaluate your performance: Evaluate your performance at the trade show, including the number of leads generated, the level of attendee engagement, and the feedback you received. Use this information to refine your approach for future events.

  • Analyze your ROI: Analyze the return on investment (ROI) for your participation in the show, including the cost of exhibiting and the revenue generated from leads. Use this information to determine if it's worth attending in the future.

  • Share feedback with your team: Discuss what worked well and what could be improved for future events.

By following these steps, you can maximize the ROI from your participation in the trade show and ensure that you continue to build relationships with potential customers after the event.

And as you plan your trade show efforts, scan the exhibitor list and see if Yamaha Unified Communications will be participating. Yamaha UC frequents many shows throughout the year, and we would welcome the chance to show you how we can assist with your communication needs. We’ll be showcasing our ADECIA family of products at InfoComm 2023, being held June 14-16 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. We’d love for you to drop by our booth!