The Ultimate Trade Show Checklist: An Exhibitor’s Preparation Guide

Trade shows are incredible events that enable businesses to raise brand awareness, generate leads and network with industry leaders, among other memorable marketing activities.

While trade shows are rewarding, they can also prove to be daunting. With a sizable amount invested in your trade show booth, there is tremendous pressure to make it a success.

From what you wear to employing the right promotions, there are numerous things that contribute towards making your booth a hit. But, with so much to do amidst the chaos, it can be hard to keep a track of everything you need to take care of – especially if it’s your first time exhibiting.

But, don’t worry! Trade shows don’t have to be as stressful as they seem to be. Once you’ve decided which trade show you wish to exhibit at, there are many pre-trade show preparations to be made. We have outlined a list of things that apply to most exhibitors:

Preparing a Budget

One of the most important aspects of exhibiting is having a realistic, detailed budget. This budget should include all pre- and post-trade show costs along with any advertising and marketing expenses. Make sure that cost for every category is separate. This will save time and money as the vendors you order exhibit designs and other promotional materials from will prepare a proposal to specifically match your needs and budget.

Selecting the Booth Location

Once you select the trade show to exhibit at, you need to select the booth location. The trade show organizer will provide you with the floor plan. The location of your booth should depend on what your goal is. Let’s say you want maximum interactions with attendees – a booth near the bathroom or food area will be ideal.

In addition, if your booth budget allows an extra $200-$500, you could get a corner booth. Corner booths typically attract twice the foot traffic owing to their access to two directions at the same time. However, you need to make sure that you book the booth space at least a year from the exhibition date. If you wait too long, the space you want might already be rented out.

Designing Your Tradeshow Booth

Most exhibit houses offer design services. If you intend to use these services (or a third-party trade show design company), you should start the design process 6-9 months beforehand. In case you already own booth assets, you need to figure out how to place them in the booth and make provisions for booth accessories you don’t have.

Planning Staffing, Travel, And Lodging Needs

The employees you pick as part of your trade show team can make a big difference in how your booth performs. Cheerful and enthusiastic employees will make your booth more welcoming while bringing in quality leads.

Once you’ve finalized your team, book the plane tickets and make hotel arrangements for all employees about 4-6 months before the trade show. This will help you keep things in order and avoid higher last-minute prices.

Ordering Tradeshow Promotional Products

Promotional products are great for attracting footfalls and serve as brand reminders for your prospects. According to the Promotional Products Work Fact Book, 71.6% attendees who get a giveaway remember the company they received the product from. And 76.6% form a more favorable attitude towards the company.

However, it can take time to imprint your logo on the products you order, so place your order as soon as possible. Some of 2017’s top trade show giveaways are:

You might also want to order trade show supplies like lanyards for your employees, banner stands, and a table cover to give your booth a professional look. This helps to engage with attendees even from a distance!

Starting Promotions

You can start promoting your booth 3-4 months before the trade show. Email marketing, direct mails, and social media are some of the most effective pre-trade show promotion tools. By making your presence known at the trade show, attendees who may have associated with your business in the past might pay your booth a visit.

Packing Tradeshow Essentials

Now that most of your preparations are made, you need to pack trade show essentials to make sure that you’re prepared for everything that the trade show floor throws your way. Your trade show survival kit should include:

  • Comfortable Pair of Shoes
  • Business Cards
  • Toiletries
  • Scissors
  • Mascot Costume (if you have one)
  • Packing Tape
  • Band-aids
  • Staplers
  • Laptop and Mobile Chargers
  • Wi-Fi Router (carry this even if the tradeshow offers Wi-Fi access)
  • Sanitizers
  • Healthy Snacks
  • Water

Keep this kit packed and ready-to-go one night before the trade show. This will prevent you from forgetting something at the last moment.

When the day you’ve spent months preparing for finally arrives, make the most of it! Network with people, have meaningful conversations with leads, and most importantly, don’t forget to follow-up with the connections you’ve made. We have a team of highly-skilled reps who can help you select the most effective promotional products for your brand. Simply call us at 1-800-748-6150 to get in touch with our experts.

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jayden samuelson
Jayden Samuelson is an online marketing manager at Promo Direct. He is responsible for strategizing and executing all SEO and digital marketing plans for the company’s website. He is also a regular contributor to Promo Direct blog and several other sites. You can follow Jayden on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.