When creating a trade show or event project time line, it is important to include both the tactical and strategic details. The combination of both tactical and strategic planning will help bring the biggest bang for your budgeting buck. This is the key to successful planning!
I always analyze the current trade show calendar first to verify that the company is still attending the best shows for its industry and specific products. As a consultant, I have seen too many companies exhibit at shows that no longer suit their needs simply because “that is the way we have always done it.”
Begin with researching each show on various levels prior to making the commitment.
» Exhibiting objectives, goals and measurements
» Target audience analyses
» Contract negotiation
» Show selection
» Sponsorship evaluation
» Speaking opportunities
» Booth staff selection
» Resource allocation
» Integrated marketing communications plan
» Competitive analysis
» Booth floor layout
» Show floor placement
» Call for presentations
» Electrical ordering & placement
» Labor work orders
» Overhead lighting and/or signage
» Graphic art design
» Hotel accommodations, air flights, badge registration
» Booth staff training
» Giveaways ordering
» Pre, during and post meetings
» Feedback survey
12 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRADE SHOW:
» Determine your key objectives of Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Objectives (ROO).
» Research the show’s audience to determine the percentage of your target audience attending.
» Negotiate contracts for booth space, hotel block, sponsorships, meeting rooms.
» Create your budget and determine resources.
9 TO 12 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRADE SHOW:
» Create your Integrated Marketing Communications Plan.
» Respond to Call for Papers and Speaking Opportunities.
» Determine what products or demos will be shown in booth.
6 TO 9 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRADE SHOW:
» Have a kick-off meeting with staff involved with show (i.e., marketing, sales, graphics, IT, senior management, legal, outside agency, etc.).
» Create a show document with all information needed for prior and during show for senior management and booth staff attending.
» Complete paperwork need for logistics of electrical placement, labor work orders, overhead lighting and shipping.
» Order promotional giveaway items.
3 TO 6 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRADE SHOW:
» Determine your booth staff schedule.
» Begin Integrated Marketing and Advertising for your show participation.
1 TO 3 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRADE SHOW:
» Conduct bi-weekly status meetings to kick-off team and to booth staff.
» Confirm speakers and presentation decks.
» Make air flight reservations.
» Make reservations for booth staff dinner.
» Create agendas for during and post trade show meetings.
» Determine questions needed for followup post-show survey.
2 WEEKS PRIOR TO TRADE SHOW:
» Ship all required demos, promotional items, etc. to show site.
» Confirm all VIP transportation, speaking engagements, reservations, etc.
1 WEEK PRIOR TO TRADE SHOW:
» Create lead tracking forms/plan for trade show booth staff.
DURING TRADE SHOW:
» Utilize daily status meetings in booth with staff to collect feedback.
» Conduct competitive analysis on other exhibitors.
2 DAYS AFTER TRADE SHOW:
» Send out post-show survey to booth visitors and staff.
» Conduct post-show meeting to learn best what worked and what didn’t.
» Draft report to senior management regarding ROO and ROI.
As you can see, there are so many different details to keep track of, both strategic and tactical. Having an organized timeline will help you to keep all parts moving and on track as well as on budget for a successful trade show!