Countdown to Success
Countdown to Success:
Twelve Things to do Twelve Months in Advance
by Susan A. Friedmann, CSP
When a show’s a year away, it may seem like you have lots of time to get
ready. But appearances can be deceiving. Twelve months is not long, especially
with all the pre-show planning, training, and preparation you’ve got to do. Here
is a checklist of sixteen vital items that need to be done approximately one
year before you set up your exhibit:
1. Identify Where The Show Fits In Your Marketing Strategy
Every show has a purpose. Do you want to introduce a new product to a new
market? Increase existing services in an existing market? Increase your
visibility in a new geographical region? Reinforce existing customer
relationships? Knowing what you want to achieve at any given show is vital to
2. Decide Which Products To Focus On
Your company may produce dozens, even hundreds of different products. Obviously,
you can’t showcase all these items at a trade show. Attendees would be
overwhelmed. Instead, with one eye on your marketing strategy, select those
products that need to take center stage. Remember that 70% of people attending
shows are looking for something NEW!
3. Identify Your Target Audience
Ideally, every show would be attended solely by consumers desperate to buy your
products and services. However, things don’t always work that way. Determine who
the decision makers are in your industry, and exhibit at the shows they attend.
You want to spend your time talking with the people who have the power to make
4. Identify Your Exhibit Objectives
Clearly explain to your booth staff what goals you expect them to meet during
the show. Make these goals quantifiable. Examples could be number of leads
generated, target sales figures, gathering marketing intelligence or educating
your target audience.
5. Write an Exhibiting Plan
Writing out an exhibiting plan not only clearly deliniates what needs to be done
before, during and after the show, what your exhibit team need to do, and a
timetable. Include every step of the show in the written plan, leaving nothing
out. Re-reading this plan will allow you to identify any items you’ve
6. Establish an Exhibiting Budget
An exhibiting budget should include every item needed for show participation.
Beyond registration and space rental fees, include charges for show services and
transportation. Add in the cost of your exhibit design, signage, graphic, and
display materials as well as advertising, promotion and special activities. And,
finally, don’t forget your exhibit team’s travel, accommodation and meal
7. Reserve Your Booth Space
Prime real estate go fast! To get the booth space you want, remember to reserve
early. Avoid ‘discounted’ spaces in out of the way aisles or near the bathroom.
The savings realized won’t balance out all the attendees who never get near your
booth – or worse, who go by in a big hurry with other things on their mind!
8. Pay Deposits
Check in with the accounting department to make sure deposits are paid on time.
This often-overlooked item can cause all kinds of headaches, not to mention high
9. Ensure Booth Design Meets Objectives
There are no one-size-fits-all displays. Make sure your design meshes with your
marketing plan, helping to support current objectives while maintaining your
corporate image. Booth layout is vital. Make sure it contains all the needed
elements, including a ‘quiet’ place to talk with hot prospects.
10. Assess Your Current Exhibit
Give your current exhibit a critical once-over. Does it still look sharp and
engaging, or is it tired, faded, and worn? Signage and graphics sometimes travel
around the globe several times in a year – and they don’t always look better for
it. Check flooring material for wear and tear as well as your other displays.
11. Purchase New Items as Needed
Order new graphics and signage as far in advance as possible. This way, if there
are any mistakes, you’ll have time to make necessary corrections. Additionally,
allowing yourself extra time gives you the room to negotiate for the best deals.
As you replace worn items, make sure the old ones are disposed off – you
wouldn’t want your booth staff setting up last year’s signage by mistake.
12. Order Show Services
Show services should be ordered in advance. These can include electricity,
signage, audio/visual equipment, booth cleaning services, plants and flowers,
telephone and computer hookups, waste removal, and furniture. You’ll be sure to
get everything you need, and enjoy a substantial savings over those who wait for
the last minute to order these items.
Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author:
“Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to improve their
meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. For a free
copy of “10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make”, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;