Susan Friedmann

Article Summary:

All the steps to successful trade show exhibiting including planning, people, promotion, productivity, and success formula.

Trade Show Success: How to Get It

Are you getting the best return on your show investment? This simple checklist acts as a reminder for many of the questions you need to ask and answer before exhibiting. They help guarantee your professionalism.

Planning begins with show research 18-24 months prior to the event.

  • How well does this trade show fit our marketing needs?
  • How convenient are the show dates?
  • What other events are scheduled on those dates?
  • How convenient is the show location?
  • What percentage of attendees fall into our target market?
  • What percentage of attendees comes from our major service areas?
  • What does show management do to promote the show?
  • What is the show's past success rate?
  • Which of our competitors also exhibit at this show?
  • Will show management provide a list of previous exhibitors to contact about the show?
  • Has someone from our organization visited the show?
  • How much will our investment need to be in this show?
  • What type of promotional assistance does show management offer?
  • What audience quality information can show management provide?
  • What return on investment can be expected from each show?

Planning should begin 9-12 months prior to the event.

  • Where does this particular show fits into our present marketing strategy?
  • Do we want to:
    - Increase existing products/services in existing markets?
    - Introduce new products/services into existing markets?
    - Introduce existing products/services into new markets?
    - Introduce new products/services into new markets?
    - Introduce company into existing markets?
    - Introduce company into new markets?
  • What products/product lines need to be displayed?
  • Who is our target audience at this show?
  • What are our exhibiting objectives?
  • Do we have a written exhibiting plan?
  • Has an exhibiting budget been established?
  • Has our space been reserved?
  • Has the necessary deposit been paid?
  • What booth design will meet our objectives?
  • Can we refurbish/use our current exhibit?
  • Do we need a new exhibit?
  • Do we need new graphics?
  • What show services/items need to be ordered:
    - signage
    - plants/floral decorations
    - floor covering (e.g. carpeting)
    - audio visual equipment
    - plumbing/air/water/drainage
    - booth cleaning services

    - electricity
    - telephone
    - computer
    - imprinter
    - waste bins
    - furniture
  • Are security arrangements necessary?
  • Has booth installation/dismantling been organized?
  • What freight arrangements need to be organized?
  • Are there any union restrictions we need to know?
  • Has insurance been arranged?
  • Do we have a tool kit organized to take to the show?
  • Have the necessary hotel arrangements been made?
  • When is final payment due for our booth space?
  • Are credit card services needed for booth sales?
  • Is a vendor's license needed?
  • Has a lead card been designed and printed?

Promotional opportunities need to be planned 6-8 months out.

  • What pre-show promotion needs to be organized?
    - personal invitations
        (e.g. with incentive and response form)
    - advertising (e.g. trade publications, local media)
    - direct mail? telemarketing
    - public relations
    - website
    - sponsorship
  • Has our booth number been included on all pre-show promotional pieces?
  • Do extra literature/catalogues/price lists need to be printed?
  • Have press kits been prepared?
  • Do other PR opportunities need to be planned? (e.g. press conference)
  • Has our show guide entry been completed and mailed?
  • What promotional giveaways will best enhance our message?
  • What on-site promotion do we want to organize?
    - airport advertising
    - billboards
    - hotel TV advertising
    - transit advertising
    - show daily advertising
    - hotelroom promotions
    - show directory advertising
    - sponsorship
  • Do we want to organize a visitor competition?
  • Is our competition or giveaway in line with state lottery laws?
  • How many tickets need to be ordered?
  • Have hospitality functions been planned?

Plan your booth team 4-6 months out.

  • How many people are needed to staff the booth?
  • Who are the best people to represent the organization?
  • Has a booth manager been appointed?
  • Has staff training been organized?
  • Has a pre-show meeting been scheduled?
  • Is the booth team familiar with products/services being displayed?
  • Has a practice demonstration session been organized?
  • Will a technical representative be available to answer questions?
  • Has a dress code been established?
  • Have badges been ordered for all booth personnel?
  • Do the booth personnel have sufficient business cards?
  • Has a booth schedule been planned?
  • Who will oversee booth installation and dismantling?
  • Does that person understand the move-out procedure?

Prepare as much of your post-show activity as possible prior to the event.

  • Has a lead taking system been organized for visitor requests?
  • Has a daily debrief session been scheduled?
  • Will thank you letters be sent to every registered visitor?
  • How will show leads be handled?
  • How will sales from the show be monitored?
  • What kind of reward/recognition will the exhibit staff receive?
  • How will the show be evaluated for future participation?
  • Did we manage to stay within the estimated show budget?
  • Does the budget need revising for next year?
  • What other shows opportunities nationally/internationally could be explored?

Take immediate action wherever needed and always plan for the unexpected. Remember, you can't just show up!

Susan Friedmann, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), is a "how to" coach specializing in the tradeshow industry. She works with exhibitors, show organizers and meeting planners to create more valuable results from their events nationally and internationally. Originally from London, England, Susan has been a successful speaker, consultant and author for over 20 years.

Susan has written and published ten books. Most recently, she compiled and published the latest books on exhibiting, the three volume, "Secrets of Successful Exhibiting" series, with over 30,000 copies in print. Her latest book "Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies", was published in July, 2003.
For more information, visit her website at www.TheTradeshow

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