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How to Prepare for a Successful Trade Show

When preparing to exhibit at a trade show, it’s critical that you stay organized. The success of your trade show hinges on your team’s ability to execute each part of the process properly, and on schedule. No pressure, right?!

Take the stress out of preparing for your next trade show by keeping track of responsibilities in a simplified checklist. If you’re looking for a place to get started, you’re in the right place. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of tasks to help you prepare for a successful trade show.

To download the checklist, which you can edit and personalize to your business needs, click here. This is a resource you’ll turn to time and time again. In addition to the checklist, we’ve also included a Sample Packing List (tab 2), as well as a Sample Itinerary (tab 3). These additional resources are best stored together, in our experience.

Below, we’ve outlined the tasks in a bullet-point list, so you can get a feel for what’s included in the downloadable checklist.

  • Research show information & request application materials for exhibitors – Be sure to note how much your desired booth space might cost, along with any other required fees such as carpet or power.
  • Review Event Manual to understand all event-specific details – Do this early so you can plan accordingly. Note any special events that your team will want to attend, and add that to your itinerary.
  • Research booth display vendors and artwork deadline(s) – If you plan on creating a new booth display, start looking into vendors to understand cost and deadline(s) for artwork.
  • Outline your budget – Outline the expected budget for this show. Include the cost of the booth space, booth display, booth attractions, lighting, rigging, electrical, Wi-Fi, carpet, T&E, lodging, and lead retrieval.
  • Evaluate promotional opportunities (like mailers sent from show organizer, for example) – Most trade show attendees create an agenda for who they’d like to visit. Make sure you’re on their list! Interacting with attendees ahead of the event is key, so educate yourself on the opportunities that the show organizer will provide for exhibitors. Mailers sent from the show organizer are a great example of interacting with registered attendees in a way that stands out from the rest of the email blasts. Find out what your options are, and the due dates for submission.
  • *Evaluate lead capture options – Most trade shows partner with a lead retrieval provider for exhibitor lead capture. Badge scanning is antiquated and cannot fully integrate with the technology you already have in place. Consider an event lead management solution, like GoExhibit!™, which integrates seamlessly with their in-house marketing automation, sales automation, and CRM solutions OR the 3rd party technology you already have in place.
  • *Request Developer’s Kit (or API) from Lead Retrieval Provider – This step will only be necessary if you plan to use an independent lead capture solution. The benefits of using an independent lead capture solution are extensive, but one is that it provides a consistent experience for your booth representatives across all of your events. You’ll simply need to facilitate a connection between your lead capture solution and the show-appointed lead retrieval provider per event.
  • Host a Team Meeting, #1 – Use this time to announce company attendance and discuss details such as who will attend, what your goals are for lead capture, and so on.
  • Register booth personnel – After your team decides on who will be in attendance, make sure to register them with the event organizers.
  • Submit Directory Listing -The show organizer should provide a deadline for when you’ll need to submit your information for the Directory. Don’t miss this key step, so registered attendees know that you’ll be there.
  • Outline your promotion strategy – How will you advertise your attendance and entice visitors to stop in? Try an omnichannel approach, which can include direct mail, email, social media, and more!
  • Plan booth design – Where will you set out business cards? How will traffic flow through your booth? Where will you display your product or solution?
  • Plan booth attractions – Everyone loves a good booth attraction. We recommend announcing your booth attraction in your promotional material to increase the hype around your booth.
  • *Outline your post-show workflow – Map out how you plan on communicating with Prospects post-show. We recommend an omnichannel approach. Sending a text message immediately upon lead capture can be very impactful, and will keep your brand top-of-mind. Email follow-ups a few days after the event has concluded (so that you miss the Out-of-Office window) with a picture of your team at your booth will remind your Prospect of their conversation with your team. A handwritten letter that includes a business card (or even a $5 Starbucks gift card!) sent a week or two later will really drive home your message and further solidify the relationship you team started at the event. *Pro Tip: Personalize your follow-up by merging any combination of data collected from your lead capture form. Include links to educational content based on the product or solution that they were most interested in.
  • Finalize attire – Do this early in the process so that you have time to order anything you’ll need customized (matching collared shirts with company logo, for example). And don’t forget to advise on required pants/shoes, too. You’d rather be over-prepared than run the risk of having a newbie show up in jeans and flip flops.
  • Host a Team Meeting, #2 – In this meeting, review your promotional campaign, post-show workflow, booth design, booth attractions, attire, and more. Make sure everyone is on the same page before creating all of the material.
  • Notify show management if using the show organizer-appointed contractor – If your trade show requires that you use a show organizer-appointed contractor of things like installation, make the proper arrangements early to avoid last-minute fees.
  • Analyze all existing exhibitors – Most show organizers will provide a list of other exhibitors. Of your direct competitors, who will be in attendance at this event? Stalk their Twitter to find images of their previous booths and make sure yours is up to par. Are there any companies in attendance that you could partner with for booth attractions or takeaways?
  • Create and execute your social media strategy – What’s great about social media is that you can go ahead and schedule all of your posts leading up to the event. This is a great task to get out of the way early. Make sure to include relevant event hashtags!
  • Order booth giveaways (t-shirts, pens, etc.) – Make sure you order these in plenty of time, and provide a cushion in case they don’t turn out as planned. If you have access to the event attendee list, go a step further and poll attendees ahead of time to see what they might like to receive most. Then, they’ll really be looking forward to visiting your booth!
  • Secure travel arrangements & lodging – If your event involves travel, make sure that everyone on your team has appropriate travel arrangements and lodging. Make sure to account for setup and breakdown of your booth. Rumour has it that Tuesdays are the best day to purchase airfare. Also, most trade shows offer a discounted rate with a local hotel. Check for that first!
  • Order Carpet – Carpet is required for most indoor trade shows. If you don’t need to match the carpet to your booth theme, consider using the same color as the event organizers are using in the walkways to encourage traffic flow into your booth.
  • Order Electrical – If required. Tip: Find out how much power your booth lighting will need, and order that at a minimum.
  • Order Wi-Fi – If needed. Tip: Bring your own hotspot to avoid costly fees.
  • *Create your lead capture form – If using a customizable solution like GoExhibit!™,  you’ll want to create your lead capture form early and share with your team. Ensure that you are collecting everything you need from booth attendees. Create conditional questions based on interest, and include voice recording and voice-to-text functionality so that your sales team can record important data quickly and easily.
  • *Create the content for your post-show workflow – You already mapped out your post-show workflow. Now all you have to do is create the content and piece it together!
  • Prepare for technology needs (iPad, laptops, mobile devices for lead capture, etc.) – Make sure that each piece of required technology is on your Packing List, and don’t forget extra phone charges, charging blocks, extension cords, etc. (This checklist has a Sample Packing List included on tab 2!)
  • Plan exhibit setup/dismantle – Assign responsibility for showing up early to help with setup and assign team members to the breakdown process, as well. Make sure to give anyone setting up or breaking down enough cushion between travel to make it work without stress.
  • *Create an itinerary – Outline when your team should be where, so there’s no confusion. Include time frame for badge pickup, setup, exhibit hours, session hours, happy hours or client dinners, tear down hours, etc. If you are using an independent lead capture solution that supports documents, include your itinerary in the app so that your booth reps can easily access. (This checklist has a Sample Itinerary included on tab 3!)
  • Host a Team Meeting, #3 – In this meeting, review your packing list and itinerary. Send a follow-up email to each of your team members with the exact items they are responsible for bringing. Answer any last-minute questions.

Lead Liaison offers one of the most powerful and holistic event lead management solutions in the industry, GoExhibit!. Above, we’ve noted which line items GoExhibit! can support with an asterisk (*).

To see a demo of GoExhibit!, request one here!

9 Trade Show Booth Design Ideas to Delight Visitors [Infographic]

Social media may have transformed the way that brands and customers engage with one another, but trade shows persist as a cornerstone of face-to-face marketing. And precisely because so much brand interaction has been digitalized, the potential for trade shows to create a meaningful and memorable brand experience has only become greater. 

One of the greatest benefits of participating in trade shows is that attendees, simply by virtue of deciding to be there, are incredibly receptive to your message. A striking design is arguably the most important factor when it comes to attracting these open-minded, warm leads into your booth.

But standing out in a crowd of competitors is no easy task. While more traditional, tried-and-true booth design schemes that consist of a graphic backdrop, spandex table covers, and a few banner stands may be the best option for traditionally conservative industries, the trends in trade show booth design have in recent years taken a turn for the stunning and creative. Trade show attendees are increasingly expecting more from the exhibits they visit, and a well-designed booth space plays a decisive role in all of these expectations.

Effective trade show booth design ideas serve to do a lot more than just look good. They are the backdrop against which an entire brand experience can unfold. From the first encounter, to interacting with your staff, to leaving your booth with a goodie bag, your trade show booth design can either enhance or detract from a visitor’s experience every step of the way. Engineering your exhibit to be both attractive and functional, both unique and on-brand, may be the single most important project you undertake to make your brand’s next trade show appearance worthwhile.

Looking for some trade show booth design ideas? The following graphic offers nine creative trade show booth design ideas that are eye-catching, versatile, and sure to impress:

Author Bio:

Joseph Robison is the Marketing Manager at Coastal Creative, a large format printing company based in San Diego that specializes in designing stunning trade show booths and branded spaces. He is also the founder of Green Flag Digital, an SEO and digital marketing consultancy.

40 Event Marketing Statistics

Want the executive summary? Download the infographic here.

To access our Event Lead Management Kit, which includes this resource, click here

Business is changing at the speed of light. As marketers, it seems like every time we feel like we’ve mastered a new strategy, a new one emerges. Advances in modern technology drive marketing organizations at a fast pace. But, just because more and more people are adopting new technology, it doesn’t mean that one-to-one contact is gone. In fact, most of the technology that we create is intended to give businesses the opportunity to automate administrative tasks to make room for more person-to-person contact.

Marketing events are a great way to engage in one-to-one contact. Multi-day conferences, trade shows, conventions, seminars, thought-leadership workshops…these are all great examples of event marketing. They give businesses the chance to interact with consumers who are already 10 steps closer to purchasing, just by the simple fact that they are at the event in the first place.

Perhaps you are trying to decide if your business should invest in event marketing. Maybe you have already started exhibiting at events and you just want to learn more about them. Or perhaps you are a seasoned exhibitor who’s just looking for a few good stats. Either way, you are in luck! We have rounded up 40 important statistics that help shed light on event marketing for business-to-business (B2B) companies.

Why do Companies Invest in Event Marketing?

  • 63% of marketers use tradeshows as a form of lead generation (source)
  • 79% of US marketers actually generate sales using event marketing (source)
  • 81% оf trаdе ѕhоw attendees hаvе buуіng аuthоrіtу (source)
  • 77% of marketers use experiential marketing as a vital part of a brand’s advertising strategies (source)
  • 52% of business leaders say event marketing drives more ROI than any other marketing channel (source)
  • 48% of event attendees say face-to-face interactions are more valuable today than two years ago (source)
  • It takes an average of 4.5 calls to close a sale without an exhibition lead, and only 3.5 sales calls to close a sale with a lead from an exhibition (source)
  • 73% of B2B marketers say events are better than other tactics for customer engagement (source)
  • The three most commonly used B2B lead generation strategies are email marketing (78%), event marketing (73%), and content marketing (67%) (source)

Strategies

Businesses around the world are investing in marketing events. Here’s how those strategies are affecting budgets and goals.

  • Annually, companies spend about $24 billion on exhibiting at events (source)
  • The top three event marketing goals are to increase sales (83%), increase brand awareness (73%), and to enhance product knowledge (53%) (source)
  • Events occupy 14% of budgets, which is the largest share of B2B marketers’ budgets. (source)
  • B2B companies spend 29% of their marketing budgets on events, on average, versus 19% for B2C companies (source)
  • 91% of event professionals stated that increasing engagement at their events was an important priority for their organization (source)

Event Lead Management

Managing the leads from your event is only part of a robust event lead management strategy. An event lead management solution should not only assist you in capturing your lead, but also in properly managing the data, enabling you to follow up quickly, and helping you track ROI.

  • 17% of respondents still use spreadsheets to store information on their leads. (source)
  • Just 6% of marketers believe their company converts trade show leads, contacts and conversations into customer business extremely well, although 27% feel they do so moderately well, and another 41% feel they’re getting better (source)
  • 14% of marketers plan to integrate marketing automation with their events and only 7% currently do (source)
  • 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first (source)
  • The top benefits for event technology adopters are: improved ability to track and measure their events (40%), increased process productivity (31%), and a better attendee experience (30%) (source)
  • 76% of marketers say their event and experiential marketing initiatives are integrated with their other marketing campaigns (source)
  • 22% of brands do not have a way of measuring their events (source)
  • 91% of event planners say that adopting a mobile event app has provided a positive ROI (source)
  • The top 5 metrics marketers feel are best for quantifying event value are: new referrals and introductions; quality and quantity of leads; deal closure; value of sales; and upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Yet, only 34% use those 5 metrics to assess trade show and event ROI (source)

Looking into the Future

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated conventions and events are expected to expand by 44% from 2010 to 2020 (source)
  • 40% of marketers say they’ll increase spending on hosted events in the year ahead (source)
  • Companies are spending on event marketing at a growing rate, with 54% boosting their event activity over the past three years, and only 17% cutting back (source)
  • 43% of marketers believe the value of face-to-face interactions will continue to increase over the next 2 years (source)
  • 85% of executives say the number of exhibitions will stay the same or increase over the next several years (source)
  • 75% of marketers believe that in the upcoming years, live events will become increasingly important to their organization’s success (source)

Conclusion

You get the picture, right? Event marketing holds a significant position in the future of growing businesses. It’s never too early to start mapping out your strategy – whether you are a seasoned event marketer, or you plan on trying it out for the first time. Below is an infographic that summarizes all of these important stats. 

Luckily, we have many resources to help companies make the most out of their marketing events. Here are a few we think you might like:

And, to learn more about our enterprise-level Event Lead Management solution, click here.