Like a kid in a candy store. We’re all familiar with this expression. Images of a variety of the same product are painted and all that’s left to do is reach out and pick your favourite out of the bunch. Trade shows paint a similar picture. It is an event which gathers individuals and/or companies belonging to the same industry or trade and allows for attendees to explore the variety of products or services that said industry offers. In the same breath, it allows these companies to showcase, exhibit, and demonstrate their product or service to potential clients and investors. But if you’re not the kid nor the candy but rather the candy store, how can you create the perfect tradeshow to make an everlasting impression on both attendees and exhibitors? Follow along as we explore a step-by-step guide to planning and executing the perfect trade show.
Step 1: Give yourself enough time planning and execute your trade show.
A trade show is only as well executed as it is well planned. One who takes on organising this grand event takes on a great responsibility and as a result, should not rush its process. Give yourself a year’s planning period where you can carefully see to the many details that go into its execution. A good, and possibly most crucial, starting point of said planning stage is defining the goal and objectives of your trade show. While often banned together as the same thing, they respectively carry different meanings.
A goal defines the broader mission of what your trade show is set out to accomplish. This can be defined by an answer to a simple question which is “What is the purpose of my trade show?”. Common goals that your trade show could set out to achieve are:
- Discover and explore new and upcoming trends in your industry.
- Expand awareness of your industry as well as the awareness of brands within your industry.
- Increase sales.
Objectives on the other hand can be defined as smaller and more measurable actions that should take place to achieve the broader goal set in place. These objectives are then defined by the smaller (yet equally important) details of your trade show such as your shows:
- Desired attendee turnout,
- Sponsors and vendors,
- Entertainment of choice and
This specific point of your planning process creates the guideline to which the rest of your trade show planning will follow.
Step 2: Pick the perfect venue.
The venue of your trade show is dependent on what you have planned your attendee size to be. Your choice of venue should be influenced by the chosen theme of your trade show as well as its’ target audience. Ensure that you are taking into consideration how convenient the location of your venue is to your attendees. Whether your trade show is hosted in a venue as big as a convention centre or in a place as small as a public or private organisation room, ensure that your chosen venue perfectly complements the size of expected attendees and is booked as soon as it is chosen.
Step 3: Create the layout of your tradeshow.
Much like your venue is dependent on your size of attendance, your layout is dependent on your chosen venue. Use the internet to your advantage and research common trade show layouts to make the job easier for you. Ensure that the way in which your event is mapped out accommodates the variety of exhibitor booths that you plan to host yet still allows for walking space for non-exhibitors. One should also charge vendors for booths according to the booths’ location and availability of the necessary resources, i.e., whether the vendor needs electrical access, etc. It is advisable that at this stage, one should also create a layout map for the convenience of those planning to attend.
Step 4: Seek out Sponsors.
Sponsors are a vital source of funding for your event. It is because of this that sponsors are a key component of a successful trade show. When soliciting sponsors, present them with how your trade show will benefit them. Whether that be with the availability of their own booth space or the opportunity to expand the awareness of their brand. Trade shows are mutually beneficial for both you and the sponsors in that you can provide free advertisement of their business as well and they are able to aid in covering your trade show’s cost and even spread the word of your brand.
Step 5: Find your Vendors.
Your trade show is incomplete without the participation of eager vendors. Much like with sponsors, their participation also presents an opportunity for the awareness of both your and their brand to expand. When you have found your vendors present them with information pertaining to the theme, layout and set-up of your trade show. Allow them to choose their booth space and provide them with an exhibition kit that contains important trade show information. Ensure that this kit is sent ahead of the date of the trade show. The exhibition kit should contain important information that explains the time they would have to set up and take down their booth, where their material loading areas are allocated, venue restrictions, your contact information should they have any questions as well as a warm thank you letter for their participation.
Step 6: Don’t forget about Entertainment.
A way in which you can keep your attendees interested, engaged, and excited is through the use of entertainment. Whether that be through a guest speaker who can educate your attendees on the relevant industry, a contest or even a well-known entertainer or MC, entertainment at a trade show is proven to attract a crowd and greatly contributes to a positive impression being left of your event. Do not leave your guests hungry or thirsty. Provide a light snack, and mealtimes and ensure that you have beverages available for those that need a little pick-me-up during the long day. Collaborate with caterers to ensure that you’re not doing everything by yourself. Not only does entertainment leave a great impression but it could also expand your trade shows audience reach through the help of entertainers who would post about your event!
Step 7: Market, Market, Market!
The awareness of your trade show is reliant on how well you market your event. A good marketing plan is therefore another key component to a successful trade show. When an event is marketed well, it draws the attention of your target audience and ensures a good turnout. Market ahead of your trade show with the use of flyers, posters, radio mentions, newspaper and magazine advertisements, email lists and of course, social media!
Step 8: Set up your trade show.
The time required to set up the space of your trade show is dependent on the size of (1) the venue and (2) attendance. Make sure that you are designating an appropriate amount of time for space set up, whether that be a day or more prior to the actual trade show.
Hosting something as grand as a trade show should never be a burden for you to carry. A great tip in hosting an event is gathering a good team to back you and help you reach the goal you have set. This team should be filled with professionals such as event organisers and a great décor team, all of which is offered at Urbantonic. Reach out to us so that we can help you build a candy store filled with the sweets of your industry!