Marketing Fundamentals

Trade Show Planning Guide and Checklist

By Christine Dubyts, Dubyts Communications

1. Define Your Goals (9- 12 months before show)

  • What are your goals for attending the trade show?
  • What roles will the trade show serve in your overall sales and marketing strategy?
  • Set specific objectives for the show - number of product sales, leads generated, publicity secured, etc.
  • Develop a detailed budget and forecast your ROI.

2. Coordinate / Plan Show Requirements (3-6 months before show)

  • Review the trade show map and identify your booth space needs, resources, accessories, marketing materials, equipment, etc.
  • Register and reserve your booth space, plan and design your banner(s) / booth, lighting. Consider your requirements for carpet, electrical, internet, etc.
  • Determine your preshow, at-show and post-show marketing plans.
  • Develop your 30 second commercial / pitch. What is the message you want to get across. Have yourself and your staff rehearse the message so you're able to use it confidently to maximize your time at the trade show.
  • Plan and purchase high-impact trade show promotional items to attract and engage your visitors.
  • Plan, design and order your marketing material requirements.

3. Confirm Details (1-3 months before show)

  • Confirm details of booth space, carpet, electrical, internet and any other onsite requirements.
  • Confirm delivery of booth/banners, marketing materials, promotional items, etc.
  • Finalize and coordinate booth staffing schedule.
  • Book travel, hotel, car if necessary.
  • Launch preshow marketing initiatives.
  • Coordinate post show marketing packages to be sent after show to prospects. Put together follow-up packets to send immediately following the show to your leads.
  • Schedule dinners or other meetings to be held at the show with prospects, distributors and/or customers.

4. Follow-up (1 Day to 1 Week after trade show)

  • Review and analyze leads, send follow-up email, marketing materials and connect with them as appropriate.
  • Evaluate overall trade show participation compared with objectives from your trade show plan.
  • Compare your budget compared to actual expenses for the show. Calculate return on investment.
  • Prepare post-mortem and make recommendation as to whether to participate in the same trade show again. Include suggested changes, enhancements, and other trade show ideas to ensure future show success.