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The Essential Trade Show Checklist

June 22, 2009

By Mike Thimmesch 

What do you need to succeed at trade shows? If you can check these 16 points off your list, you’re well on your way:

  1. Align your trade show goals with your overall marketing and company goals
  2. Create goals that are specific, measurable, and timely
  3. Pay early to avoid rush charges and (surprisingly high) late fees
  4. Booth space rental is about one-third your budget, for the rest invest more in areas that give you the best R.O.I.
  5. Pick shows with an audience that best matches your target market
  6. Go back to the highest R.O.I. shows from previous years
  7. Design your exhibit to boldly and clearly communicate who you are, what you sell, and why your prospects should buy from you
  8. Design your exhibit to support your booth staffers as a workspace…and work to keep your ongoing expenses down
  9. Reach out to attendees before the show, via social media, phone, email, mail, ads, and the web
  10. Offer attendees something of value (information, presentations, demonstration, show specials, giveaways) in exchange for a visit
  11. Select motivated, friendly, knowledgeable booth staffers
  12. Train your staffers to handle the steps to shorter trade show interactions: engage, present, qualify, and close
  13. Capture at-show, on paper or electronically, the prospect info your sales team needs after the show — and then give it to them after the show
  14. Before the show even starts, prepare a person, materials, and a database to fulfill your leads…and an all-out effort ready to follow up leads after the show
  15. Plan ahead to give yourself more time to adapt to problems, especially for international shows
  16. Take a binder with all your contracts and contacts with you to the show, including graphic art files on a thumb drive if your display gets lost

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