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The Essential Trade Show Checklist: Streamlining Your Planning Process

Image: Trade Show Checklist Are you a meticulous planner or more of a "wing it" type? When it comes to trade shows, being a master planner is crucial for success. Trade shows are a significant...

Trade Show Checklist Image: Trade Show Checklist

Are you a meticulous planner or more of a "wing it" type? When it comes to trade shows, being a master planner is crucial for success. Trade shows are a significant investment, often consuming a large portion of a company's marketing budget. To ensure every penny is well-spent and make the most of your trade show experience, having a comprehensive trade show checklist is essential.

Why You Need a Trade Show Checklist

Start your trade show planning process by searching for a trade show checklist template online. While there are numerous free and paid options available, it's ideal to create your own or consult with your exhibit house for a customized template. By managing your trade show checklist effectively, you can optimize your budget, secure timely bookings for travel and lodging, handle freight and promotional materials, and complete show forms during early bird dates.

A trade show checklist also serves as a safeguard against forgetting important tasks or overlooking crucial details. New exhibitors especially benefit from having a comprehensive checklist to avoid costly mistakes such as missing essential arrangements for freight, labor, or flooring.

Moreover, trade shows can be stressful, and stress is the last thing you want to deal with before, during, and after a show. While checklists come with their own set of tasks and deadlines, they streamline your planning process and make it easier to coordinate with others involved in the trade show. With each show you participate in, managing your trade show checklist becomes more efficient, thanks to the knowledge and experience gained over time.

Detailed Trade Show Planning Checklist: Preparing the Logistics

Aside from a budget template, it's important to create an exhaustive trade show checklist that includes all the necessary dates, names, and other pertinent details. Various project management software options are available, but even using tools like Excel or Outlook can suffice in the beginning.

To ensure a successful trade show program, involve departments and individuals beyond just marketing. Sales, product development, customer service, shipping, and accounting/finance all play integral roles in trade show programs. In collaboration with your exhibit house partner, who can provide invaluable insights, determine the responsibilities and commitments of each department.

Some preliminary items to include in your trade show checklist are:

  1. Exhibition goals and strategy
  2. Budget
  3. Departmental responsibilities
  4. Show dates and service ordering deadlines
  5. Exhibit design and graphic design meetings
  6. Booth staffing and responsibilities
  7. Travel and lodging bookings
  8. Pre-show, show, and post-show marketing/sales plans
  9. Designing and ordering promotional materials and giveaways
  10. Scheduling freight to and from the show

11 Must-have Trade Show Setup Supplies

Trade shows are a delicate balance between order and chaos. To ensure a smooth setup process, there are often-forgotten supplies that can make your job easier and more efficient. Here are 11 essential items to include in your trade show setup supplies:

  1. White gloves for handling graphics
  2. Power strips and extension cords labeled with your company's name and contact
  3. Packing tape for dismantling and repacking
  4. Cleaning supplies, wipes, and magic erasers for setup cleaning and daily maintenance
  5. Setup instructions and printed staging photos for faster assembly
  6. Extra Velcro for wire management or last-minute graphic add-ons
  7. Sharpies for labeling empty crates and boxes
  8. A steamer to remove wrinkles from fabric graphics
  9. Lint roller for keeping your exhibit spotless
  10. A vacuum for a quick clean before the show opens
  11. A small toolbox with essential tools for display assembly

8 Personal Tips and/or Supplies for Any Exhibitor

As an exhibitor, there are personal tips and supplies that can enhance your trade show experience. Consider these 8 suggestions to make your participation more comfortable and successful:

  1. Comfortable (not new) shoes
  2. A belt to avoid unexpected fashion emergencies
  3. Your "go-to" pain medication
  4. Charging cords for your laptop, phone, and tablet
  5. Plastic dry cleaning bags for your already clean and pressed clothing
  6. Early morning/late night snacks to keep you energized
  7. Breath mints for freshening up during the show
  8. Business cards for when digital connections aren't enough

Additional Tips for a Successful Trade Show

Trade show marketing is a specialized form of marketing that requires expertise and planning. To make the most of your investment and maximize your results, consider these additional tips:

  1. Set clear goals and objectives to align your efforts.
  2. Choose the right trade show that caters to your target audience.
  3. Develop a strong marketing and promotional plan to generate interest.
  4. Create a visually appealing and functional booth that represents your brand.
  5. Prepare a clear and concise sales pitch to maximize your interactions.
  6. Follow up with potential customers after the show to nurture leads.

At Classic Exhibits, we understand the challenges of trade show planning. With over 30 years of experience in exhibit design, manufacturing, and exhibition marketing, we are here to help. Our expertise comes with a commitment to educate and guide new exhibitors towards successful trade show experiences. If you need assistance with your trade show checklist or any other trade show-related inquiries, feel free to contact us at 866-652-2100.

Tags: Pre-show Trade Show Planning, Trade show, trade show planning