The Essential Trade Show Checklist
by Sean Moakler
Jan 31, 2023
With a new year ahead of us comes new marketing opportunities. One opportunity you can count on every year, barring a worldwide pandemic, are conferences and trade shows. Whether you’re sponsoring a trade show, speaking at a trade show, or just attending a trade show, these events are a great opportunity to get your brand out there, gain some marketing and sales qualified leads, and possibly even secure a deal. Not to mention, participating in a trade show is a great way to generate engaging marketing content. Check out our article, 4 Ways to Generate Content, to spark some ideas for that!
The thing about trade shows is that they cost a lot. They are both time-consuming and a major investment. That is why it is important to be dialed in when preparing for a trade show so that you can guarantee that you hit your ROI goals. In 2022, our team at Mountains Wave organized multiple events across all our clients. Here is a checklist of some of the main items we check off to ensure we stay on track and maximize our trade show potential.
Sponsorship & Registration
Register your company’s attendees
In the beginning, when you’re going through the process of registering for an event, oftentimes you’ll have to register the people from your team who will be attending. Be on the lookout for a form of some sort to be sent your way to fill out with the attendees' information. It’s worth noting that depending on the event requirements, you may have to pay per attendee or per extra attendee.
Update your company’s exhibitor profile
As you’re going through the registration process, you’ll most likely be asked to fill out a form with your company’s logo(s), name, and other relevant information. This information will get used by the trade show for its labels, marketing, and other signages throughout the time leading up to, during, and post-event. So make sure you put your best branding foot forward by uploading accurate information and a quality image.
Go through the exhibitor kit thoroughly
Now that you’re registered for the event, you’ll receive an exhibitor kit. An exhibitor kit is a document with multiple pages comprised of important dates and deadlines, trade show day information, and different products and services being offered to you by show management. You’ll want to go through this thoroughly because it’ll contain just about all of the important information for sponsoring the event.
Choose the perfect sponsorship package
When you’re buying a sponsorship, you’ll most likely be offered different types of booths. Some tiers offer bigger booths with more equipment where as others are more basic. Choose the sponsorship and booth that is right for your company and fits the budget.
Order your essential booth equipment
Most trade shows will require you to buy equipment such as power, WiFi, extra chairs, monitors, HDMI cables, and extension cords for your booth separately. Some equipment like this might be included with your booth depending on what booth package you decide to go with. However, look for the form, most likely in your exhibitor kit, to order the items you need.
Design and order banners
As you go through the exhibitor kit, you’ll most likely see different packages for you to purchase that include different types of banners and signage for your booth. This option is simple and easy since you’ll go directly through the trade show’s exhibitor service. The booth will be designed, set up, and taken down for you upon your arrival and departure. However, this option is more expensive.
A more affordable option is to go through a third party to order all of your banners, tablecloths, and different signages for your booth. Going this route gives you more creative freedom to design your booth how you want. Not to mention you’ll be able to reuse this equipment for future events saving more money in the long run.
Create Conference swag that converts
You need to attract people to your booth somehow. Plus, who doesn’t like free stuff? Think about some cool and unique handout items you can slap your logo on and then order them! These items will not only attract new leads to your booth, but they can also keep your brand front of mind post-event.
For example, a magnet phone holder for a car with your logo on it can keep someone thinking about your company for days after an event since your logo will be right there for them to see every time they are in their car. Items like these will help convert trade show leads and land you new deals that ultimately provide new growth.
Prepare engaging presentation material
If you’re speaking at an event, remember to put together everything you’ll need for the presentation. Oftentimes, you’ll have to submit information about your presentation ahead of time; so give yourself enough time to prepare.
If you’re not speaking, perhaps you’ll still want to put some sort of presentation on display at your booth. Make sure to have the presentation formatted properly and saved somewhere that you’ll be able to access at the trade show such as on a flash drive or laptop that you’ll be bringing. Also, don’t forget to order the necessary items needed, such as a monitor, to display at your booth.
Kick off your marketing campaign
As the trade show approaches, kick off a marketing campaign. Send out a few emails that invite leads to meet at your booth, write a blog article tailored to the trade show that shows your knowledge and expertise in the industry, and post on social getting the word out that you’ll be there! Whatever your campaign may entail, marketing for a trade show should begin well in advance and go through and even past the event.
Shipping can be one of the most stressful parts of a trade show. It almost feels inevitable that something will go wrong with the shipping, so it is imperative to be organized. Usually, there are a couple of different shipping methods. You can either ship directly to the show site or by advance shipment to their warehouse. Each will have a different arrival date.
If you decide to ship direct to the show site, you’ll want to plan to ship it out with enough time to arrive at the site within a few days of the show. You’ll also need to coordinate with your company’s on-site team or the venue to ensure that your shipment makes its way to your booth on time.
If you decide to go the advanced shipment route, you’ll have to ship everything out a few weeks in advance. The benefit here is that they will take care of getting everything to your booth on time. The downside is that you’ll need to have everything ready to be shipped out a few weeks before the trade show. You’ll also have to be okay with it being held off-site at their warehouse for a few weeks.
Whichever method you choose, make sure your on-site team member knows what to expect, how to set everything up, and how to send everything back to you.
Make the on-site contact known
As you get close to the trade show day, you’ll want to make sure all necessary parties know who the on-site contact is. This will help keep things organized and ultimately save time on trade show day.
Book hotels and flights
Remember to book any hotel rooms and flights as soon as possible to help avoid any stress and problems that might come with last-minute bookings.
Meet those deadlines
Lastly, meet your deadlines. Just about everything listed above will have some sort of deadline. Figure out what all of those deadlines are and start planning accordingly so that you can hit them all!
Every trade show is unique with different requirements. Hopefully, this gives an overview of some of the main things to look out for and expect when planning for a trade show and ultimately, help ease the process. If you’re looking for a team that can help with your next event or with any of your marketing goals in 2023, don’t hesitate to reach out!