Event Planning

5-Step Guide to Nailing Trade Show Planning

A trade show brings together various businesses within your industry to display and demonstrate their products and services. Since the objective of a trade show is to highlight products and services within the industry, you should only allow entities inside the industry to attend.

Before you plan a trade show, you need to start with the end game in mind. Ask yourself the following question:

What are the results I am trying to achieve by hosting and planning this event?

For instance, are you trying to gain perspectives from industry leaders? Are you trying to create a platform for people to share new and innovative products? Will this be an opportunity for companies to recruit employees? Or, all of the above?

Once you establish the purpose of the trade show, all of your plans will be directed toward that end. Below are five tips to help you plan the perfect exposition.

1. Promote New and Innovative Ideas

The primary reason professionals attend trade shows is to see and experience things they’ve never seen before. Even established companies that are mainstays in your industry should bring something new to the table. Old ideas and conventional products do not inspire people to move forward — or to buy products. So, hold all your attendees accountable for bringing fresh fire to the event.

2. Start Planning at Least 18 Months in Advance

Eighteen months may seem like a stretch for planning a trade show. However, everyone needs time to prepare for displaying and demonstrating their current products and services. Giving everyone more time ensures that the trade show succeeds and that a company can have its goods and services ready to display.

3. Schedule Workshops, Presentations, and Other Events

What inspires vendors, buyers, and other industry professionals is walking away from a trade show feeling like they learned something that will fuel their company’s growth. While trade booths and displays are the core element of a trade show, attendees know that they can find the same information online or by contacting the company directly.

Trade shows need to feel more like a conference where sharing ideas and learning new things is what brings everyone in the industry together. Schedule workshops and demonstrations that are presented by well-respected and well-known leaders in your market.

4. Develop a Winning Formula for Vendor Success

Every vendor at your trade show needs to feel that their company gained something by attending the event. Therefore, you need to create a path of least resistance that helps exhibitors convert attendees into new clients or customers. Here are some ideas:

  • Promote your vendors. Get the word out about their involvement.
  • Generate uninterrupted activity on the show floor.
  • Allow each vendor to hand out a few complimentary passes to prospects.
  • Create a mobile app that vendors can use to promote their company.
  • Create multiple opportunities for vendors to give spotlight demonstrations.
  • Create a floor plan that does not isolate vendors.

5. Exhaust All Promotional Tools and Strategies

Trade shows are everywhere, and they happen all year long. So, if you’re just entering the arena, then your first objective is to convince vendors and show-goers why they should attend your event and not the one across the street.

You can achieve this, but you will have to get creative with your advertising and promotional strategies. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is unique about our trade show experience? What gaps will it fill that are missing from other trade shows? What is the “Wow” factor?
  • What tools can our company utilize to promote the event? What are the elements of our marketing campaign that will pique vendor and buyer interest?
  • What is our promotional process? How do we slowly build interest that leads to commitment?

The most important principle in any trade show is being sensitive and responsive to both vendors and attendees. Focus on the core reasons they attend shows. Why are they there? What do they hope to achieve? What will they learn? How can our team help them accomplish their goals? By addressing the key issues and planning your trade show well, you will have an exceptional event that everyone will want to come back to time and again.

Bree Livingston
About author

After graduating from business school, Bree Livingston quickly discovered her love of office management while working as an Office Manager/HR Coordinator for a mobile app development company. She enjoys working in a fast-paced environment where she's always learning and loves to help new team members to get started at the company. When she's not working or writing blog posts, she loves singing and playing with her cat, Georgia.
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