The Ultimate Tradeshow Checklist: An Exhibitor’s Preparation Guide

tradeshow essentials

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

While tradeshows 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 successful.

There are numerous things that contribute to making your booth a hit, they range from what you wear to implementing the right promotions.  With so much to do amidst the chaos, it can be hard to keep track of everything that needs to be done, especially if it’s your first time exhibiting.

Not to worry! Tradeshows don’t have to be as stressful as they seem to be. After you’ve decided which tradeshow you wish to exhibit at there are preparations that will need to be made, we’ve outlined a few that apply.

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-tradeshow costs as well as any advertising and marketing expenses. We suggest you make the cost for each a separate category, in doing so will save you time and money. The vendors you order exhibit designs and other promotional materials from will be able to prepare a proposal that will specifically match your needs and budget.

Selecting the Booth Location

Once you select the trade show to exhibit at, you will need to select the booth location. The trade show organizer will provide you with the floor plan of the event.  When choosing the location of your booth you should decide what your main objective is.  Let’s say you want maximum interactions with attendees, a booth near the bathroom or food area will be ideal as these offer a larger amount of foot traffic.

In addition, if your booth budget allows an extra $200-$500, you could opt for a corner booth.  These booths typically attract twice the foot traffic which allow for access of two directions at the same time.  We suggest you book your desired 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 to assist with the layout of your booth.  If you intend to use these services (or a third-party tradeshow design company), you should start the design process 6-9 months beforehand.  In case you already own booth assets, you will need to decide how to place them in the booth and make arrangements for any accessories you don’t have.

Planning Staffing, Travel, And Lodging Needs

The employees you pick as part of your tradeshow 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 your team is finalized you will need to book travel arrangements for all employees.  It’s recommended you do this 4-6 months prior to help keep things organized and to avoid higher last-minute prices.

Ordering Tradeshow Promotional Products

Promotional products are great for attracting prospects and serve as brand reminders for your potential clients. According to the Promotional Products Work Fact Book, 71.6% of 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.  Below is a list of 2017’s top tradeshow giveaways:

You might also want to order tradeshow supplies such as lanyards for your employees, banner stands, and a table cover to give your booth a professional look.  All of these will help you engage with attendees even from a distance!

Starting Promotions

Promoting your booth 3-4 months before the tradeshow is recommended.  Some of the most effective pre-tradeshow promotional tools are email marketing, direct mails, and social media.  By making your presence known before the show this can help attendees visit your booth if they have associated themselves with your business in the past.

Packing Tradeshow Essentials

Now that most of your preparations are made, you need to pack some tradeshow essentials that will prepare you for anything the tradeshow floor may throw your way. Your tradeshow 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 tradeshow. 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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Gary Taylr
Gary Taylr is a marketing consultant at Promo Direct. He works with the creative team to drive web-based marketing campaigns. He shares his marketing insights at blog.promodirect.com and is a regular participant in forums and discussions related to business and marketing. You can follow Gary on Google+ and Twitter.