Trade Show Checklists For Better Exhibition

A trade show is undoubtedly one of the most effective marketing tactics. Any exhibitor looking to up their game on the trade show floor must invest their time learning how to plan better for the event.

We have outlined comprehensive trade show checklists covering things to do before, during, and after an exhibition. Whether it is your first time preparing for a trade show or you’ve done this a couple of times, this information is valuable to the success of your expo.

Pre-Show Checklist

1. Define Your Main Objectives or Goals

It is no news that exhibiting at trade shows come with lots of advantages. Without clearly defining your main objectives, it will be difficult to assess whether your outing was successful.

Here are some ideas you can use to create your campaign goals:

  • Generate a minimum of 30 quality leads
  • Make at least 15 sales during the trade show
  • Elicit at least three responses from attendees that will help in market research
  • Network with five leaders in your industry
  • Identify five interested investors

2. Carefully Handpick Your Booth Staff

Your booth staff can make or mar your exhibition, so it is crucial to choose people you think can rep your company very well. The number of staffers will depend on the size of your exhibition space, but you don’t have to overcrowd your booth. Ideally, three persons are okay to man your booth so that you can have at least two of them in the booth at all times.

Whether you have a large or small staff, take the time to coach and instruct them on how exactly what they are expected to do and how to manage both the booth and aisle (see trade show checklist number 4 in the Post-Show Section).

3. Create a Well-Thought-Out Brand Message

People generally have short attention spans, and it gets worse during trade shows because they are so many things calling for attendees’ attention. You only have brief moments to catch and hold the attention of potential clients or lose them forever.

Therefore, brainstorm with your team and develop a succinct yet engaging message that can quickly attract people’s attention and draw them to your trade show booth.

4. Design Impressive Banners and Handouts

Getting attendees’ attention is a big part of exhibiting at trade shows, and banners and handouts are two essential vehicles for achieving this. Designing and printing attention-getting banners is usually not an easy thing to do, so work with your creative team early enough to come up with banners that will convey your company’s theme and message.

5. Build Buzz Around Your Campaign

You want to plan how to drive traffic to your exhibition booth long before the show begins. An effective method is to build buzz around your expo by sending out mailings before the tradeshow event.

You can choose to do this through email marketing campaigns targeted at the attendees’ list or keep it simple by sending postcard invitations.

6. Decide On Your Promotional Items

promotional items with laptop isolated on table

You can generate quality leads by choosing the right promotional items. Make sure to customize the items (giveaways) with your brand logo. It is best to do this early enough to avoid a last-minute rush that can lead to printing errors. You don’t want to look bad before the entire world.

7. Schedule Meetings for the Show

Trade shows present an opportunity where vendors, members of the media, and prospects all come together in one place. Grab the chance and schedule meetings with:

  • Exiting clients
  • Existing and potential partners
  • Existing and potential vendors
  • Pre-qualified prospects
  • Reporters and editors of widely-read magazines

8. Get Trade Show Supplies Ready

man holding business card with qr code

Lastly, but of equal importance, is getting your trade show supplies ready long before the exhibition. This is a crucial part of any trade show checklists because the essentials you bring to the trade show floor are the tools that can help you reach your main objective or goal.

Keep in mind that anything can happen on the trade show floor, so you need to think broad and include as many things as possible in your supply kit. Here are a few trade show essentials to bring:

  • Business cards
  • Highlighter and several pens of different colors
  • Sharpie pens
  • Paper clips and staplers
  • Post-it notes
  • Rubber bands, zip-tie, scissor, scotch tape, and masking tape
  • Extension cords
  • Can opener, screwdriver, or an all-in-one tool
  • A small first-aid kit for emergencies

Checklist for During the Show

You’ve covered every base, and finally, it is showtime. Here is a trade show checklist to follow on the D-day to help you execute your plan and achieve your business goals.

1. Ditch the Sales Pitch, Ask Questions Instead

There are plenty of marketers trying to pitch sales all over the convention area, and nearly every regular trades show attendee knows and expects this. But dare to be different – that’s if you want better results.

Your staff should ask intriguing questions that can lead to conversations instead of jumping on the sales pitch bandwagon. Genuine and engaging conversations with prospects are likely to result in prospects allowing your staff to sell to them.

2. Showcase Your Product Capabilities

One of the best ways to get attendees to remember you is by staging live product demonstrations. Be prepared to go beyond features and benefits and showcase what your product can do for prospects.

Avoid using laptops if you want to make your demonstration an unforgettable experience. Instead, opt for large monitors or let prospects test the product themselves.

3. Get Active

Your exhibit staffers need to be alert and active throughout the show. They must be on their A-game throughout the show, walking around, standing upright, and sending the right messages using positive body language.

Reps that sit all day or don’t move around are uninviting and send the wrong message to attendees because their body language is saying they would prefer to be somewhere else.

4. Keep the Aisle Engaged

Avoid making the mistake of solely waiting in your exhibit for prospects to come to you. Besides having someone inside your exhibit to speak with prospects, take things up a notch by having one or two persons on your team stationed in the aisle to draw the attention of attendees passing by. Adding this to your trade show checklists can increase the number of people your staff engages with during the show.

5. Collect Business Cards

Typically your competition is doling out brochures and all conceivable freebies to potential investors. While it is okay to give out items, don’t forget to collect names and contacts or business cards. Follow up with emails after the show to make you memorable and stand you out from the competition.

6. Post Updates on Social Media

focus of social media apps showing on smartphone

Maximize your reach by posting updates on social media using related hashtags about your exhibit. Remember to extend and accept new friend requests with prospects because that’s a great way to expand your network.

7. Take Notes

You have the opportunity to present your business, products, and services to potentially everyone on the trade show floor. They are going to share their thoughts with you about what you have to offer. Don’t rely on your memory to remember everything. Make the most of this chance by noting their views on a notepad, especially repeated questions and common issues or concerns.

Post-Show Checklist

The curtains are down, the lights are out, and the show is finally over. But that’s just the beginning of a new cycle for you. Here’s a trade show checklist to help you consolidate the gains of the event.

1. Follow Up and Fulfill Your Leads

Right after the show, keep the momentum up by following up on attendees. Give them what you promised or offer free consultations, product samples, free trials, and other encouragement to bring about leads. Ensure that all leads end up with your sales team, where they can be converted into sales.

2. Review Your Costs and Goals

Compare your expenses to your original budget before the show. Did you stay within your budget or go over? If you exceeded your budget, try to figure why that happened and if there was something you could have done to prevent it, or perhaps your initial budget didn’t consider so many factors. Remember to be realistic and not beat yourself up for what is unavoidable.

3. Apply Lessons Learnt About Your Company and Products or Service

Trade shows are learning opportunities for companies and not merely for letting the world know about your business.

After you have showcased your company to people, take the time to review what they think about your business and product or service. This is the importance of taking notes during the show (see trade show checklist number 7 above).

See what needs to be improved, tweaked or removed, and gather insights from your visitors’ assessments to prepare a better exhibit for future shows and create a more detailed event planning checklist.