8 Questions to Ask When Getting Ready for a Trade Show Event

Planning for a trade show

Trade shows can definitely be a very rewarding marketing opportunity for small and large businesses alike. It is important to consider all of the areas in which you will need to be prepared in order to make your investment a success. Ask yourself the following questions before you sign the dotted line:

#1 Have I given myself enough time to plan?

Sometimes you'll hear about an upcoming show that is right around the corner that would be absolutely perfect for your business. The only downfall is, if it is literally right around the corner, you may not have enough time to prepare yourself in order to make the show profitable. 

There are circumstances where this doesn't factor in quite as much. For example, if you do trade shows frequently and you have all of the trade show displays, banners, marketing materials and setup already, you may be good to go! 

#2 What are my goals for the show?

Getting excited for a certain show or event can certainly distract us from making sure we have set goals that can be reached. Make sure that you have enough time to set and establish goals along with a strategy of how you will accomplish them. Once your goals are set, ask youself how your business will benefit if they are met. If you don't have a clear answer to this question, it may be wise to reevaluate your goals. 

#3 Do I have a system in place to measure my success?

In order to come up with the answer to this question, you'll first need to determine how you'll be measuring your success. Once you have determined the units of measurement, it will be critical that you have a way to actually measure. Whether your success is being measured in new Facebook followers, people signing up for your email newsletter, sales, followup appointments, or whatever it may be, be sure that you have a way to track it all. Having this system in place will help you determine if the trade show was a good investment or if there are things that you might like to do differently next time. 

#4 Does it matter how big my booth space is?

The answer to this question is most definitely, yes! It does matter how big your space is. However, determining how big your space needs to be depends entirely on your setup, goals and your plan of action. If meeting your goals requires a lot of display material, banner displays or interactive pieces, a larger space is probably more suitable. On the other hand, if you have a very simple and small display and you're looking to engage in one-on-one conversation, a smaller booth might make more sense. 

#5 Am I familiar with the venue and the location of the trade show?

Sometimes, shows are local and conveniently close, whereas, other times they require extensive traveling. If the event you are participating in is close to home, this will be a lot more cost effective and consume less of your time. That being said, don't let travel scare you away from a profitable show. Just be aware that you are going to incurr additional costs that you may not have taken into consideration. You'll want to start with the costs of travel, airfare, accommodations, shipping your trade show displays, etc. 

#6 Who should staff the booth?

This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself when preparing for a trade show event. While there are many items to help you determine who should staff your trade show booth, keep in mind that these events revolve around networking and creating beneficial relationships. Having people that understand your goals and respect your business and want to see it succeed is critical for your success at a trade show. 

#7 Am I utilizing all of the resources that are available to me?

A lot of times when planning an event, we simply forget about resources that are free or relatively cheap to help us establish our presence. Using social media is a great resource to use in order to help boost your attendance or engagement. Consider all of the outlets and resources you have with existing networks that could potentially leverage the success of your event. 

#8 What is my plan after the show?

Taking time after the event to evaluate what worked, what didn't work, and what you would do differently next time is essential to your continued success. A great way to help you in this evaluation is to take some time during the show to observe the competition and see what they are doing that seems to be working. You'll also want to establish a system of how you plan to follow up with all of your new leads and contacts and how you are going to keep track of them during the show. Today's technology can be one of your best friends when it comes to this part of the process. Everything from newsletter sign ups to QR code coupons can be used to boost your success. Make sure you have a plan before you go. 

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