When it comes to exhibiting at any trade show, exhibition or corporate event, smart companies will start to plan an exhibition timeline long before the event.
By planning ahead, you can ensure a successful outcome, and of course, optimise your trade show budget and objectives.
Here’s part one of our two-part blog series – providing you with a simple trade show timeline that’ll have you planning to success, with plenty of time to spare! (Just in case of any unforeseen disasters, of course!)
12 months before the event
STRATEGY IS KEY
- Research and identify which exhibitions are worthwhile to attend, and which best suit your brand and customer.
- Determine how trade shows will complement your overall marketing and sales strategy.
- Request show statistics from event organisers, including past attendee numbers and profiles.
- Develop your trade show budget and projected return on investment.
9 – 12 months before the event
- Establish show objectives – including communication objectives: awareness, perception, positioning; quantifiable objectives: number of sales, generated leads, new partners etc. and logistical objectives including publicity.
- Set exhibition stand requirements – including stand type and space. Depending on your show objectives, consider what you will need on your stand, for example an enquiry desk, product demonstration stations, tv screens.
- Identify a space that best suits your exhibiting needs and budget – This will determine the success of your exhibition and have a huge impact on your ROI.
- Register and reserve your stand space. Tip: Being in the middle of an exhibition hall isn’t always the best. These areas can become regularly congested and detract attention. Study floor plans and anticipated traffic flow patterns before committing to a particular space. It’s all about location, location, location. Plan in advance to get that perfect spot.
- Mark your calendar with deadlines for stand space deposit and balance payments.
- Begin creating a trade show marketing plan – including pre-show, at-show and post-show marketing activities.
6 – 9 months before the event
- Specify and develop your marketing activities – including advertising, direct mail, email campaign, promotional items and giveaways.
- Select and exhibition designer/builder and begin design work – including layout, graphics, interactive technology and on-stand engagement. Tip: Choose exhibition stand contractors who will be able to make exactly the exhibition stand you have in mind. Good stand contractors will take care of all aspects of the creative process and production from start to finish, making your exhibition experience effortless and stress-free.
- Begin to design and print marketing material for show distribution.
- Develop an engaging sales message for your exhibition staff to communicate at the show.
3 – 6 months before the event
PAY ATTENTION TO THE FINER DETAILS
- Determine staffing requirements – including an exhibition schedule, and staff training sessions.
- Provide basic show information to any transportation companies.
- Carefully read your exhibitor manual and understand all requirements – including payment deadlines, site service arrangements, discount offers and rules and regulations etc.
- Explore travel and accommodation opportunities. Tip: Aim to find accommodation in close proximity to exhibition venue, preferably walking distance to avoid traffic issues.
- Begin to plan any on-stand live demonstrations or presentations.
- Evaluate and schedule your pre-trade show promotion strategy – including direct mail, email and other media form campaign types.
- Place final orders for giveaways and promotional brochures and leaflets.
1 – 3 months before the event
IT’S ALL ABOUT PRE-SHOW AND POST-SHOW MARKETING
- Continue with pre-show marketing activities.
- Finalise your exhibition stand design. Tip: A good stand contractor will make sure that everything meets the specification and your stand complies with all venue regulations.
- Develop an exhibition staff briefing kit – including staff training seminar sessions, plan your first pre-show meeting and distribute the exhibition plan to staff.
- Finalise shipping arrangements if required.
- Schedule meetings for the show with distributors, clients and other businesses.
- Complete a lead fulfilment plan – including follow-up emails or packages that are to be sent out immediately after the show, develop customer lead forms and plan lead processing procedures for the show.
1-2 weeks before the event
- Complete a final session of staff training, and rehearse sales messages.
- Preview your exhibition stand if possible. Tip: Exhibition stand contractors pre-build most exhibition stands 2 weeks before the show to inspect and check the structure and graphics. Ask your contractor if you can visit on a pre-build day to see your stand or ask for pre-build photos to be sent via email. This way you can check the stand and request any changes if required.
- Confirm shipping arrival dates for your exhibition and related goods.
- Test product demonstrations and all audio and visual equipment thoroughly.
- Assemble a trade show survival kit that includes:
- Office supplies: business cards, pens, staplers, binder clips and notepads
- Tools: Screw drivers, measuring tape, any tools specific to your stand, including AV cables and connectors (if required or if you have a self-build stand)
- Contact information, emergency phone numbers and travel logistics for exhibition staff.
- Cleaning supplies: paper towels, cleaning spray
- Small first aid kit
Once you are sure you have completed everything on the checklist, there is nothing left to do but sit back and take a deep breath! Making sure that your brand is a success at any event or exhibition is easy, as long as you follow our thorough and well-prepared timeline plan.
Here at Skyline Whitespace, we are passionate about quality and creative design, and are proud to be one of the leading providers of modular and custom exhibition stands. We offer a unique range of exhibition and display stand options to suit your needs, and enhance your trade show success!