Pre-Show Preparation – 9 months before the event

The key to pre-show preparation is to start your preparation as early as possible. Booking early will allow you to take advantage of any cost-savings.  

Define your goals: Identify your objectives for participating in the trade show. Whether it’s brand awareness, lead generation, or product launch, having clear goals will guide your preparations and also help you decide which events will be beneficial.

Budget: Establish a budget that includes stand cost (you should budget equal amounts for your exhibition stand as you do for the space), travel expenses, promotional materials and any additional costs associated with the event. We advise that you budget for all of your trade shows for the following year at the same time when establishing your marketing budget. When working with an exhibition stand contractor, they can support you with your trade show budget between multiple events.

Research the events you want to attend: Understand the event’s theme, target audience, and past attendance. This information will help you tailor your strategy to fit the specific show.

Select a strategic location at the show: Choose a location that aligns with your goals and ensures good visibility. Consider proximity to entrances, main aisles, and competitors.

Review your contract: Carefully assess your agreement to confirm the dimensions and location of your booth on the show floor, ensuring it aligns with your expectations.

Move-in and Move-out dates: Confirm the dates for booth move-in and move-out, paying attention to any centered schedules for efficient making plans.

Select an exhibition stand contractor: Now it’s time to select an exhibition stand contractor to ensure that your brand is brought to life. Many event organisers will be able to provide you with a list of preferred suppliers. Go with a company that you feel you can trust, looking out for sustainability credentials and their promptness in meeting your requests. Don’t go cheap, as this could really impact your brand reputation!

Pre-show preparation – 6 months before the event

Now that you have booked your space at the event and appointed an exhibition stand contractor, you can look at staffing and logistics.

Staffing: Select and train your exhibition staff. Ensure they are knowledgeable about your products and services and are skilled in engaging with attendees. Starting this step early will give your team enough time to be able to visit other events as an attendee and gain first hand experience.

Promotional materials: Prepare brochures, flyers, business cards, and promotional giveaways. Make realistic judgements to avoid waste and consider items that are not only memorable and relevant to your industry, but also sustainably made.

Pre-show preparation – 3 months before the event

Time to make sure your team is set for the event!

Travel arrangements: Book accommodation, flights and transportation well in advance. Ensure that everyone on your team has their travel arrangements sorted and an agenda of what to expect.

Shipping: If you have physical products, plan for shipping and logistics to and from the event venue. Just ask your exhibition stand contractor if you have any questions or issues and they will be able to support you.

Lead capture: Set up a system for lead capture, whether it’s through the event organizer, a digital app or traditional methods like lead forms.

On-site preparation

Make sure you are exhibiting with maximum impact…

Stand set-up: Arrive early to ensure all equipment is working properly and that your stand is organised and inviting, as per the design you was proposed by the exhibition stand contractor.

Technology check: Test all technology components such as displays, laptops, and interactive elements to ensure everything is functioning properly.

Networking: Prepare an elevator pitch and engage with other exhibitors in addition to event attendees. Networking can lead to valuable partnerships and collaborations.

Dress code: Ensure that your team is dressed professionally and in a way that aligns with your brand image.

Post-show

The show doesn’t stop there. You’ve wow’ed visitors – now you need to maximise the opportunities you have generated and evaluate the impact exhibiting has had on business.

Lead follow-up: Develop a plan for following up with leads promptly after the event. This includes emails, calls and social connections.

Evaluate performance: Analyse the success of your participation. Review what worked well and what could be improved for future shows. We recommend the Start, Stop, Continue method! Think – (1) What are we not doing that we might start doing? (2) What have we been doing that we might stop doing? (3) What are we doing right, and can continue doing?

ROI assessment: From our experience, this is the area that exhibitors find most difficult to measure. Evaluate your return on investment (ROI) based on your goals and expenses – you may choose to measure this over an extended period of time post-event if you are measuring sales. Things you could consider measuring: (1) Number of prospects (2) Number of sales (3) Revenue (4) Brand awareness.

Remember that if you have questions or would like assistance, you may constantly contact Whitespace XPO for assistance.

Wrapping up…

Participating as a first-time exhibitor can be exciting, but it calls for meticulous planning and execution to ensure achievement. By following this checklist, you can confidently navigate the complete process, from pre-show preparations to continuing conversations beyond the show. Each step contributes to a smoother exhibitor experience and steps towards success. But remember, not everything is going to likely to be perfect so learn from your first experience!