Trade Show Planning Checklist & Timeline

Custom Slatwall Trade Show Display Booth

Trade shows, conventions, and expos provide companies, brands, and entrepreneurs with the perfect marketing opportunity to showcase and sell their services, products, and capabilities while also meeting face-to-face with potential customers, brand influencers, affiliates, buyers, journalists, and clients. To maximize the many benefits of exhibiting at trade shows, exhibitors need to properly plan for the event. Planning a successful trade show takes time and should start 12 months prior to the show. In this 3 part series, our Xylea Wood trade show experts are sharing pre-show planning tips, during the show tips, and post-show best practices for making your trade show successful and increasing your ROI.

Pre-Trade Show Planning Timeline & Checklist

12+ Months Before Your Trade Show

Determine your goals and main objective for the show

There are many benefits of vending at a trade show; increasing brand awareness, meeting potential influencers, affiliates, buyers, business contacts, leads, investors, customers, etc. While you may benefit from several of these, you’ll be most successful if you focus on one main objective, and plan your trade show display and messaging around that.

  • Plan specific objectives/goals (Sales? Demos? Affiliates? Meeting Bloggers & Brand Influencers? Press Coverage? Meeting Investors?) By being intentional with your plan, you can align your display, messaging, and budget with your end goal.

Select your show (Your industry;+think outside the box – where’s your audience?)

Plan your budget (Map out all expenses, display costs, shipping, travel, etc.)

  • Determine space requirements (Size of Booth needed – 10 x 10? 10 x 20? 10 x 30? Conference Room?
  • Reserve Booth Size (Price booth sizes, negotiate price and reserve booth space)
  • Establish expected ROI (What’s your goal in terms of sales/new customers? Be sure to consider goals in terms of intangibles – new business relationships, media coverage, influencers, bloggers, potential affiliates, buyers, etc.)
  • Create a marketing plan to reach prospects, buyers, influencers, media (ask event organizer for list of attendees, media list of invited journalists, bloggers, influencers, media outlets); plan marketing messaging for booth.

6-9 Months Before Your Show

  • Write your sales messaging (Problem, solution, why you’re the best solution)
  • Select a trade show solution/vendor who can help you design your booth, keep costs in mind in terms of weight of display, shipping costs, drayage, and set up
  • Choose booth layout and lighting
  • Plan Signage Needs/Graphic Elements (include branded company hashtag)
  • If you’re looking to save money, consider DIY slatwall trade show display solutions. You can save BIG on shipping, graphics, and on site labor by choosing DIY options such as *Xylea Wood Custom Slatwall Trade Show Displays that are lightweight and quick and easy to assemble.
  • Plan giveaways (Map out raffle – service, product, or gift card)
  • Choose literature & materials (Brochures, Flyers, Fact Sheets, Business Cards)

3-6 Months Pre-Show

  • Order giveaway/promo items
  • Follow up with vendors
  • Plan staffing requirements
  • Establish technology needs/wants
  • Review show book, regulations, & all literature
  • Plan shipping logistics (Lightweight display materials are cheaper to ship!)
  • Research travel arrangements
  • Launch pre-show marketing efforts (email announcement, post event on your website and social platforms)

1-3 Months Pre-Show

  • Continue pre-show marketing efforts (contact trade journals – press release)
  • Confirm travel and accommodation arrangements
  • Schedule staff training
  • Check in with show organizers (request list of attendees and updated media list)
  • Finalize booth and materials (don’t forget to add your company’s branded hashtag to your signage)
  • Schedule dinners & meetings & finalize travel plans

1 Week Pre-Show

  • Final staff training
  • Confirm shipping arrivals
  • Verify show run-through
  • Network Early – Reach out to 5 to 10 attendees you’d like to meet via email; send a press release/reach out to bloggers and journalists on media list

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our 3 part Trade Show Planning Series where we’ll be discussing tips for maximizing your time during your event.

*Bonus Tip for Choosing Your Trade Show Display

Consider DIY Custom Trade Show Slatwall for reducing on site expenses and shipping costs.

Xylea® Wood trade show booths and displays are the perfect DIY option for creating high quality, affordable trade show display booths for merchandising that are easy to set up, high impact, and cost effective. We’ve revolutionized trade show display slatwall by imitating and replicating balsa wood’s magnificent super cell structure into a magical, lightweight, strong & affordable material, Xylea-Wood®, that is fully customizable, interchangeable, affordable to ship, and easy assemble, offering the perfect solution for merchandising made easy.

Xylea Wood Slatwall