It’s never too early for your marketing operations team to prepare for a tradeshow. With tens of thousands of dollars (or more) invested
into national tradeshows, tradeshow marketing requires careful planning. To make sure you don’t miss any big deadlines or tiny details, we’ve compiled our essential steps to prepare for a tradeshow.
Things to Know as You Prepare for a Tradeshow
Before making any checklists or booking any hotels, the first things you must determine are the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the event. In other words, what will show your executive team that the tradeshow was a successful investment? The answer to this question will guide the marketing operations team’s efforts from the get-go.
There are three main reasons companies attend and exhibit at a tradeshow:
- Sales meetings: Tradeshows are a great place to make deals, and they can lower the average cost of a face-to-face meeting by nearly 50%.
- Product exposure: If your company has new offerings, you’ll have an eager audience—the number one reason people attend tradeshows is to check out new products.
- Knowledge: Tradeshows are a great place to learn about what’s happening in the industry and gain new prospects, which may turn into leads.
Before you start to prepare for a tradeshow, marketing operations should work with the sales team to determine goals based on the KPIs. Those goals will determine your exact approach.
The First 3 Steps to Prepare for a Tradeshow—and When to Take Them
Once you’ve set your goals, you’re ready to begin the process. Here are the steps we recommend:
Set up a tradeshow-specific calendar (12 months out)
Given all the details involved when you’re exhibiting at a national tradeshow, a calendar will help you map out a timeline and line up appropriate resources at the right time. Most tradeshows require a solid year of preparation, so if it’s an annual tradeshow, begin planning after each one ends.
Determine a budget (11-12 months out)
Tradeshow marketing is expensive: from big costs like booths, travel expenses, and giveaways to little details like extra business cards. An event where your company runs a 20’x20’ booth costs $25,200 on average.
Reserve the booth and establish exhibit design (9 months out)
If your company is releasing a new product, the exhibit should be commanding and in a central location (read: expensive location), with the proper branding. Even if you’re not releasing a new product, a well-designed booth takes time, and you should allow extra time to correct any mistakes.
Check out the rest of our steps to prepare for a tradeshow in Part 2. If you want to discuss plans for your next tradeshow, contact us to see how we can help.