If you have any plans on attending a trade show in the upcoming year, the time to start planning is now. Anyone who is planning on displaying an exhibit, sponsoring one or simply attending a trade show can benefit by taking some preliminary steps in the months leading up to the show. Ideally, trade show participants will begin preparing at least six months ahead of the trade show. Other participants prefer to start planning their trade show exhibits a full year in advance to make the ultimate impact.

Begin With Some Preliminary Yearly Market Planning

If you aim to attend multiple trade shows per year, create a spreadsheet to keep everything perfectly organized. It will help you schedule your orders far in advance so you have less to worry about as the trade shows approach. Establish an annual trade show marketing budget at the outset and stick to it. When you are a full year ahead of a show, you should know your exhibit’s size, have your booth space reserved, secured lodging at a local hotel and have established a show theme. The overall goal for the trade show exhibit should also be in development at this point as well.

Standard Operating Procedures for The 8 Month Mark

When you are about eight months away from the trade show, it is time to take a look at the exhibitor manual. Study the regulations and rules so you know your limits. Mark down the important deadlines, make travel arrangements, work on booth designs and layouts, schedule promotional events, hire booth staff for trade show services and order advertising spots. When the trade show is about four months out, it is time to pinpoint exactly which product(s) will be shown. Any brochures or promotional materials should be printed and ready to go. Coordinate shipping, build a target mailing list and order booth services for carpeting, electrical and security.

What to do When Your Trade Show is a Couple Months Away

You are almost there. Do not lose sight of how hard you have worked in the six months to a year leading up to your trade show events. This is the time to finish strong. When the show is about two months out, your attention should turn toward to ordering equipment that will make your booth that much more interactive. Order audio and video equipment, computers, monitors, lights and other electrical necessities. Distribute press releases, print press kits, set up press conferences and train your booth personnel how to present the product(s) in a manner that fits your brand’s identity.