When participating in a trade show, it is not enough to have a booth and get someone to man it.  Planning and strategizing for a trade show is important to ensure success.  After all, a trade show is a marketing event.  To make a trade show successful:
Trade Show
1. Register for the event early.  Contact the trade show organizers at least 8 months in advance. This gives you enough time to prepare all the materials and resources you will need.  It can also save you money as most organizers give early bird discounts on booths.  Plus, you can reserve the location of the booth that you feel will give you the best visibility.

2. Create your marketing plan.  Your marketing plan will be the basis of all the tasks that you need to accomplish before, during and after the trade show.  The marketing plan should be aligned with the company’s total marketing plans and goals.  Define what you want to achieve in joining the trade show.  Are you going to introduce a new product or promote existing ones?

3. Pick a theme and run with it.  How are you going to decorate the booth?  What promotional items are you going to give away?  You want to catch the attention of all the attendees.  To do this, have an overall theme for your exhibit.  The theme could be as simple as one color scheme of ocean shades, a Carnivale feel or one that highlights environmental awareness.  Whatever it is, it should be eye catching and should relate to the product you are exhibiting.  All promotional giveaways, brochures, flyers, invitations and even the outfits of the people who will man the booth should reflect the overall theme.

4. Spread the word.  Trade show organizers promote the exhibit using billboards as well as through print, radio, television and internet advertising.  As a participant, you should not rely solely on the organizers.  A month before the event, mail information packets and flyers to your customer and potential customers.  Some exhibitors even call their prospect list directly.

5. Pick the best men or women for the booth.  It is not enough to have an eye catching booth and fantastic giveaways.  You have to choose the individuals who will market your product during the exhibit.  Pick the best and the brightest who are great communicators and can sell an air conditioner to an Eskimo.  They should be knowledgeable about the product and the company.  Brief them on the goals of the exhibit, the theme and the resources available to them before and during the trade show.  Rehearse their spiels and prepare them for possible questions, technical problems and other challenges that they may face during the exhibit.

6. Pre-trade show.  Ensure that you have all your brochures, flyers and giveaways way before the trade show.  It is important to have more than enough of these items so you don’t run out.  Make sure that all electrical and electronic equipment are working.

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