Planning and executing an exhibition stand can be quite daunting for many exhibitors, there are so many factors and processes to consider leading up to the point of actual execution of the exhibition stall. Displaying your brand and products or services in an exhibition can be a very fruitful marketing strategy, marking your presence in an exhibition gives you a chance to connect face to face with a niche target audience, allowing you to demonstrate your products to a live audience and also establishes your brand in the market place.
Some serious planning and time management can make your exhibiting experience a stress free affair, getting started with a comprehensive check list from the very word go, with goals and deadlines clearly marking the progress of the project, is a fail safe way to keep things in perspective and ultimately ensures that you have a great exhibiting experience, and you meet all the targets that you have set for yourself.
Getting started: At least one year before the exhibition.
- Do a thorough reconnaissance. This should be done well before the exhibition, preferably attend similar exhibitions as a visitor, this will give you valuable inputs about the exhibition, the layout and the kind of attendees expected.
- Evaluate the hall layouts and decide on the best site for your exhibition stand, study and understand the exhibition organizer’s manual, this will help avert any nasty surprises in future.
- Draw up an exhibition budget.
- Book your space.
- Meet your marketing team and set targets and goals to be achieved during the show.
- Mention your participation in the exhibition on your web site and mention it on various collateral’s.
- Start announcing your presence in the exhibition on social media sites.
Planning and Preparation: At least six to eight months before the exhibition.
- Meet and select vendors: At this point select the various vendors needed to carry off the task of designing and building your exhibition stand, always go with an agency with a successful track record and capabilities to manufacture and build your exhibition stand. Logistics companies to transport your material and any other vendors required such as caterers, activation agencies etc. need to be appointed.
- Finalize the exhibition stand designs and the final build design.
- Select and finalize the design and layout of graphic panels to be used in the stand with the help of your exhibition design and stand building agency.
- Plan, design and finalize your product display with the help of your brand managers and marketing team.
- Plan and launch your pre-show advertising campaign.
12 weeks before the exhibition: It’s time to start finalizing designs and training your staff.
- Select and train the staff who will be attending and manning the trade show booth, make sure they have an irresistible pitch ready for the visitors
- Plan new product launches or promotions.
- Decide and plan if you want to partake in any sponsorship opportunities during the exhibition.
- Give final approval of the exhibition stand design to the concerned agency.
- Submit approved exhibition stand designs for technical evaluation and approval from the exhibition organizers.
- Start low key campaign about your presence in the exhibition on social media.
8 weeks before the exhibition: Now is the time to place your orders for all the services required from the exhibition organizers and vendors.
- Order your electrical requirements, phone lines and internet connections.
- Get the required permissions for overhead hangings, struts, oversized signage.
- Order name badges and parking permits from organizers.
- Order for card readers, catering, tea/coffee machines, water dispensers, extra furniture, lighting, waste paper baskets, and flowers and potted plants.
- Prepare presentations to be used during the show, prepare audio video presentations if any, order A/V equipment.
- Finalize your mailing list and send out the first lot of invitations to clients and other target groups.
- Review floor plans and finalize any changes made to the graphics, also review target dates for moving in and any restrictions thereof.
- Order giveaways and uniforms for booth staff.
- Finalize contract with logistical companies to ship materials.
4 weeks before the exhibition: This is the time to tie up all the loose ends.
- Confirm the installation and dismantling schedule for the exhibition stall, this is extremely important and deadline driven.
- Prepare show binder, this should include details of all services contracted and list of advance payments made to vendors. All contact details of organizers and vendors, exhibition booth set up directions and schedules, shipping instructions and return shipment labels etc.
- Preview and correct graphics if necessary.
- Meet booth staff to brief them, review their training and reconfirm their targets.
- Set up pre arranged meetings during the show with clients and prospects.
- Create a buzz on social media about your presence in the exhibition.
- Review preparation and shipping of all booth related materials such as graphic panels, giveaways, marketing collaterals, post show packets to be sent to prospective leads, check the shipping schedule for all these.
- All audio video material must be sent to the A/V equipment supplier for final testing.
- Prepare sufficient samples of products.
10 working days before the exhibition: Time to review and go through the list to check if you have missed out anything.
- Review and give finishing touches to booth staff training.
- Send a reminder mail of invitation to clients and prospects.
- Confirm delivery dates of all materials shipped with shipping agent.
- Reconfirm move in and built up schedule with organizers.
Built up: This is the real test.
- Supervise the built up process, check on delivery of all items and deliveries.
- Check whether all vendors have provided the items ordered.
- Collect entry passes and car parking tickets from the exhibition organizers.
- Review and carry out a pre show meet with booth staff in the booth itself.
During the exhibition: Network, Mingle and Talk
- Bring the social media buzz up to a crescendo.
- Check with staff to see whether they are doing things right.
- Check out your competition, see if what you are doing is working or not.
Book space for next year’s exhibition.
- Go through the plans for dismantling of the exhibition stall and shipping material back home.
After the show is over: Review and focus on how you can do things better in the next trade show.
- Oversee dismantling, packing and shipping of material.
- Appraise the success of participating in the exhibition.
- Follow up on leads by sending them thank you mails, post show packets and fix appointments.
- Review he budget for the show and analyze if there was any budgetary overruns and the reasons for it.
- Analyze return on investment.
- Write a post show report for your website with some good photographs for added effect
- Review and recommend whether your company should attend the same show again, give reasons for participating or not participating again.
Following a check list makes planning and executing an exhibition stand much easier than anticipated, this list is just a small attempt to make exhibiting more enjoyable and stress free, hope this helps you while planning for your next appearance at an exhibition.