Trade Show Preparation & Planning 101: How to Successfully Prepare for a Trade Show

11/18/21 by EE Team

Preparing for an upcoming trade show? If you’ve never participated as an exhibitor at a tradeshow, or if you want to step up your strategy the next time around, a successful event begins with the right preparation. Of course, you will want a healthy ROI, so the work you put into your trade show exhibit needs to be exceeded by the outcome. How do you set up a trade show exhibit that attracts interest and generates a positive gain for your business? Here are our key tips for trade show preparation that are designed to enhance your ROI and make your trade show a success!

 

Trade Show Preparation Tips From Expert Mike Gruenberg

Mike Gruenberg of Gruenberg Consulting is a respected expert in the trade show industry and marketing world. In the following video, Mike reiterates the importance of properly preparing for these events but stresses that you should be getting more out of it than you’re putting into it. For this reason, it’s critical that businesses identify their goals before making any investments. If it’s not realistic to meet certain goals at a particular trade show, spending above a certain amount of time and money on your exhibit isn’t wise.

We’ll cover some of Mike’s tips for how to achieve the right trade show ROI below, you can watch the video for a more comprehensive overview.

 

Why Is Trade Show Planning Important?

Let’s start by answering the question “What is a trade show? A trade show is an event where members of a particular industry come together to display and demonstrate their products and services. This is all in the hopes of generating interest in their business among event attendees and generating potential leads. These events are often held in large convention spaces and last anywhere from a day to a week. Exhibitors may set up tables or high-production booths to showcase their offerings and talk to event attendees. 

If exhibitors have a solid offering and marketing strategy, the trade show industry can be highly lucrative for a business. Trade show marketing and planning should begin months before an event to ensure exhibitors have the right people, presentation, marketing materials, sales readiness, and products on deck to attract passersby and turn them into valuable leads.

 

Trade Show Preparation 101

The time leading up to the trade show is just as important as being at the exhibit itself. Keep in mind these considerations on thoughtful trade show preparation to make your next exhibitor event worthwhile.

 

Steps for Trade Show Planning

Know going into the event that planning for a trade show can take a lot of time, but according to Mike Gruenberg, the payoff is well worth it. 

“Around 80% of people who attend trade shows are either decision makers or influencers,” he says. “If you think about the fact that every 90 seconds a customer (prospect) is walking by, that’s pretty intense.”

Step 1: Learn about the event and who will be attending. 

Many trade shows have an attendees list in advance. Research who’s planning to attend, get a feel for what those people may be on the hunt for, and determine who you want to specifically seek out and talk to. You may even want to send a brief email to let them know you’ll be at the trade show and would love to connect. 

Step 2: Assemble your team.

It’s imperative to bring the right team to a show. These people will be the face of your business. Bring people who are friendly, professional, sociable, and have the right specializations for what you may encounter at the show. Have someone who fully understands and can demonstrate and field questions about your offerings and company, a tech specialist who can help with any onsite tech issues, a sales person who knows how to persuade prospects, etc. 

Step 3: Book accommodations. 

Once you know who you’re bringing, set up hotel accommodations if you’re traveling. Also, make sure to set up the logistics of transporting your booth materials to the venue. 

Step 4: Prepare your product and pitch.

Make sure you have a product to show. It should be in top condition in both appearance and performance, and you need to be ready to demonstrate it and answer questions about it. Prepare both your product and your team to represent what you’re selling.

Step 5: Create the right booth presentation.

Attention spans are short, especially in a large venue with many different exhibitors. You need to create a trade show display that’s visually appealing, speaks to your brand, and is memorable. Create a display that’s more visual than full of text so people can understand it from afar. Also make sure it’s inviting and comfortable. Bring seating for both your team and attendees to have a conversation. 

Step 6: Develop trade show marketing materials.

Prep plenty of business cards, brochures, product sheets, etc. The last thing you want is for an attendee to ask for more information or a way to get in touch and you have nothing to give them. 

Step 7: Be prepared to capture leads.

Acquiring leads is why you’re there. There are many great phone apps and lead capture devices today that allow you to scan event badges or business cards and log notes. If you prefer pen and paper, that’s fine, too. Just make sure you have a means of recording who you talk to, their contact info, and any other relevant notes before they walk away.

Step 8: Plan to follow up. 

Be proactive about making a sale. You’re after customers and long-term business relationships. A few days after the event, craft a professional but personable email to those you met. Use your notes from the tradeshow to add personal touches. If the first email goes unanswered, you may want to send a second and even third, but after that, pull back. After three emails, if they’re interested, they’ll come to you.

Bonus: Ask to become a speaker. 

Some trade shows allow for exhibitors to be featured speakers. If you can do this, go for it. You’ll be able to speak to all attendees at once about your business, and they’ll already recognize you when they’re walking by your booth. For further trade show planning help, check out our exhibitor’s checklist.

 

How Should Your Trade Show Marketing Team Be Utilized?

Trade show marketing plays a vital role in the success of your exhibit. Not only will marketers be involved in creating the right display and branded marketing materials like brochures, they’ll also be key in driving traffic to your booth before the event. 

According to Mike, “It’s marketing’s role to create the buzz. Marketing creates the need; sales fills it. Marketing’s role is to support the sales effort.”

He recommends that your marketing team works proactively to reach out to expected attendees with an email or pre-show mailer briefly explaining who your company is, what you’re offering, why it’s beneficial, and where you can be found at the show. This team may want to also create ads, plan an after-show party for attendees to further sales discussions, and develop giveaways. Giveaways can be things like branded notepads, pens, or phone accessories. Mike explains that these items will help the sales team draw people in and have an item to exchange for contact information.

 

How Can You Prepare Your Sales Team for a Trade Show?

The first question Mike recommends having your sales team address is, “Why are we here?” The answer should be along the line of selling a product, though have your team get specific. What are the goals for this event? How are you going to turn attendees into prospects and prospects into buyers? Your sales team needs to think through this strategy ahead of time. 

Mike also emphasizes the importance of sales team members having booked appointments going into a show. Sales representatives should book meeting times with interested attendees in advance for the majority of each day of the trade show. Speaking one-on-one with prospects to further build relationships and sealing deals should be their focus. 

Lastly, Mike urges sales team members to always get contact information. “Don’t give anything away without getting a lead.”

 

What’s Next?

Trade show planning takes a lot of work, but it’s well worth the investment. Exhibit Edge can help your business prepare for your next trade show event so you’re better positioned to reach your business goals. Our specialists can help you create materials, find the right stands, ship your exhibit booth, help with exhibit management, and assist with any other trade show marketing you may need. Contact us today to learn more about how we can make your next trade show event smoother, easier, and more lucrative.