Generally, companies have their trade show timeline mapped out like a well-oiled machine. And generally, this machine follows a meticulous six month plan.
The Six Month Timeline
6 months out: Overview and analyze shows from previous years and set new goals. What worked well? What could be better?
5 months out: Determine your budget, and based on your goals select shows and booth spaces you think would best fulfill those objectives.
4 months out: Evaluate your current booth and technology, and if looking for a change, reach out to some different companies about construction.
3 months out: Choose your booth staff based on past leads retrieved. Who would be the best men or women for the job? Also, brainstorm promotions.
2 months out: Finalize your plans. Order show services, choose your exhibit builder, purchase promo items and uniforms, and arrange travel.
1 month out: Start your promotion campaign, look over the exhibitor service brochure for any additional purchases, and ship all swag and exhibit.
1 week out: Prepare your post-show lead fulfillment campaign and double-check that your exhibit will be there when you are.
Planning in a Time Crunch
Now let’s say you don’t have six months to plan your show. Let’s say you just heard about a show through the grapevine and decided that your company HAS to be there for a variety of reasons, and the show is in…One.
Don’t panic. It can definitely be done.
First things first:
- Pick Your Team.
Decide which employees will be in attendance, and swiftly register them, book their flights and hotel, and make your last minute booth selection and payment.
- Grab Your Gear.
Take a look through the exhibitor brochure and purchase any and all carpet, furniture, electricity, lead retrieval devices or apps, and WiFi that your team will need.
- Don’t Forget Your Swag.
Gather inventory–are there current banners, swag, and collateral that can be used? Most likely this will not be your first show. However, if you do find that you need new supplies:
- Giveaways! Giveaways are a first priority. If you don’t already have swag, this needs to be ordered immediately. Try to contact someone local to avoid shipping time and possible delays. Speak with a personal representative to gain ideas of fast turnaround items that are both cost effective and attendee tempting. Don’t forget about a big giveaway item to draw passersby into your booth as well.
- Set the Scene. Contact your graphic designers ASAP and make a plan for backdrops and collateral. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just ensure you have a clear message and visible logo. Many graphic printers can have a turnover of only a few days (often two or three) for smaller pull-up banners or ten-foot backdrops. The venue itself often provides this service as well, but is less cost effective.
- Run to the Printer. Handouts and business cards are a must. If you already have an effective handout that’s clean and concise, don’t worry about producing something new. Time is of the essence!
- Ship everything!
Go, go, go! You won’t have the perk of sending everything to the pre-conference warehouse by the deadline, so be prepared to pay a little more for shipping. Depending on your load and show rules, you may also be able to check everything onto the plane and carry it onto the exhibit floor with you.
- Get Emailing.
Whether you have a digital marketing team, or you are your own digital marketing team, don’t forget the power of an informative email campaign. State what you can do for your customer right off the bat, and throw in that awesome giveaway they can enter if they swing by your booth. Sending this out right before the show will benefit their memory.
And that’s it. Head on out and try not to bring upon yourself a stress-induced migraine.
Can you think of any other steps you or your company would take in preparing for a last-minute show? Have a good time crunch trade show story? We’d love to read them in the comments below.
And don’t forget to check out Jive at our upcoming trade shows!
GaETC – November 5-7
We’ll be at booth 328 at this Atlanta party. Look for our green and blue banners!
OSBA – November 9-12
Jive wants to see you at booth 1209 in Columbus, Ohio! Stop by and grab some Jive swag while you’re there.
HECC – November 12-14
In Indianapolis, Jive will be sharing booth 69 with TigerFish, so keep your eyes peeled and come say hi!
NCLGISA – November 12-14
BridgeTek will be joining Jive for this show in Pinehurst, NC in booth 39! Don’t miss it!
CETPA – November 18-21
One of Jive’s biggest shows yet! Visit booth 309 at the Sacramento Convention Center and grab some swag and enter your name to win one of five giveaways!
NMTIE – November 12-14
What brings Jive to New Mexico? NMTIE of course! Stop by booth 37 for some treats (and possibly post-Halloween tricks).