Essential Trade Show Planning Tips

Tips That Will Increase Your Tradeshow ROI: Nine must do′s for a successful trade show

  1. Select the Right Shows and Space at the Show. Ask yourself the following questions: What shows have you attended in the past? What are the business reasons to continue to attend or to stop attending a particular show? What are the best sources for finding new shows?
  2. Set clear goals for your trade show participation. What do you want to get out of it? Do you expect to sell a particular amount of inventory at the trade show, or expect to become known to a certain number of wholesale suppliers? Are you focusing on promotion or hoping to launch a new product? You can have more than one goal, of course, but the point is that you need to be clear about what your participation in the trade show is going to achieve.
  3. Do your research. You need to choose the trade shows that will give your business the best ROI or ROO in terms of your goals. If your goal is on-site sales, having a booth at that big splashy trade show where your booth is one of a dozen that sell similar products will not be the best choice. You want to choose a trade show that best targets the audience that you want to reach, and best suits your participation goals. Find out what the particular trade show′s objectives are and then evaluate the show′s audience.
  4. Plan your budget and book your space. Find out everything you can about your space, including where it is on the floor, what kind of other exhibits will be around it, whether it′s a high traffic or low traffic area, and the physical conditions of the booth space (such as lighting, electrical outlets, etc.).
  5. Plan your exhibit in terms of your audience. Who is the audience that you′re targeting with your trade show display? Is it the retail customer? Wholesale buyers? Other businesses within your industry or vertical market? Remember, different audiences “shop” trade shows differently, and have different needs.
  6. Advertise in advance. Put the word out that you′re participating in a particular trade show, by inviting your clients, customers, suppliers, and other contacts to attend the show. (Be sure you give them all the details, such as your booth number.) If you have one, be sure to advertise your coming trade show attendance on your Web site as well.
  7. Develop an overall marketing message or marketing theme. While developing your promotional plan, advertising, promotions, special events, sponsorship and media relations, keep a consistent theme throughout. This will help reinforce your message to prospects as well as enable them to better recall who you are and what it is you do or sell.
  8. Encourage attendees to visit your booth. Your goals and target audience that you established in your planning stage are the nucleus for your promotional strategy. The main promotional vehicles to generate booth traffic include: personal invitations, telemarketing, direct mail (which includes broadcast faxes, emails and video emails), advertising, public relations and the Internet. As you plan your campaign keep in mind the following three questions… Who are you targeting? What is your message? What incentive will you use to drive “booth traffic?”
  9. Read the exhibitor service manual. The exhibitor service manual is the official guide to everything you need to know about participating in the show. It contains all the relevant show rules and regulations, order forms for show services, installation and dismantle dates, registration, show promotion, contractor and shipping information. It’s important to sign up early to take advantage of possible reduced rates that some show organizers offer for early sign-up with prepayment. Other ways to lower your costs are to pre-order show services and also pay bills early to take advantage of prompt payment discounts. Some discounts range from a low of 2% to as much as 10%. Also, make sure that you observe all deadlines because services ordered on the show floor could result in as much as a 50% premium. Lastly, order more wattage than you need because you don′t want to risk a breakdown or having to pay a higher floor price for ordering it at the last minute.

Gloria Clements is an experiential marketing sales executive with Advent. Advent thrives at the forefront of the cutting edge experiential marketing industry and for 20 years has helped rapidly growing companies communicate the essence of their brand and vision domestically and abroad through exhibits, events, and office environments. Based in Nashville, Tennesse, the company is a creative industry leader with Fortune 500 clients like VF Corp and Mars, International. For more information, visit

Authored By rmyers



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