Tecna UK’s Ultimate Trade Show Checklist to Make Sure You Ace Your Next Show
64% of trade show attendees will tell at least 6 other people about the trade show afterwards. While 76% will ask for quotes and 26% sign purchase orders at the show (CEIR). With stats like that, there’s no denying that trade shows are rocket fuel for business. They give you an opportunity to introduce your brand to thousands of industry professionals in the space of a day. And, you can work your conversational magic to convert leads into sales. But to really make the most of your exhibiting and conversational marketing efforts, you have to get them right. That’s where our trade show checklist comes in.
Over the years, we’ve fine-tuned our trade show checklist to cover everything you need to think about before, during and after your trade show appearances to guarantee you make a success of it.
1. Your Exhibition Stand Design
2. Before You Exhibit
3. Bring to the Show
4. During the Show
5. After the Show
Checklist: Your Trade Show Stand Design
Our display stand design check list is about inspiring ideas. These are some of the things you might want to consider when coming up with your exhibition stand design to maximise usability and visual impact at trade shows.
1. Exhibiting Location
Design your display with your exhibiting space location in mind. Whereabouts are you located in the venue? How can you design your display to reach more eyes? In which direction will foot traffic be flowing?
Bags and belongings will not look good strewn around your exhibition stand space – that’s a given. Factor in storage to improve first impressions, declutter your area and open up space for meaningful conversations. We usually stow our belongings inside our T3 counters and T3 back walls. T3 storage cupboards are an option too.
3. Showcasing Units
If you’re promoting a product, how do you plan to showcase your offering? Cabinets? Glass cases? Pick a showcasing unit that’s right for you.
Stand illumination will automatically increase the visibility of your exhibition stand and set the mood. There are so many different lighting options to choose from: underlit flooring, light boxes, led counters; aerial lights, floodlights, spotlights and custom lighting.
5. Private or Semi-Private Meeting Areas
Meaningful one-on-one interactions with your brand ambassadors will heighten the likelihood of converting leads to customers. The leads are already warmed up – they’ve chosen to approach your stand after all – now you just need to set the scene to push them towards a sale.
Having screens is one thing; knowing how to take full advantage of them is something else. AV screens can be a great marketing tool, but you need to make sure your content is tailored to your audience and your show objectives
You could use your screens to give intimate presentations, show promo videos; use them for interactive gaming or social walls. You can flush mount and surface mount screens with T3 – even when using fabric graphics. Think about strategic positioning to reach more eyes and face oncoming foot traffic.
7. Tech Docks and Stations
For iPads and the like. Integrating tech stations into your exhibition stands is a great way to promote your brand message digitally. iPads and tablets can be displayed on your stand anyway you like: have them built into your counters or information pods.
8. Does the Design Match the Brand
Make sure your design gives off the brand image you want people to receive and always question your design. Should your display have soft lines, be curvy, or incorporate dynamic angles? Does it reflect the brand? Does the stand design enable you to have the conversations you need to have? These are the questions you should be asking.
Forward-set shelving and in-set shelving are two options for displaying your products. You could do something like we did for our Marketing Week Live 2019 exhibition stand and set your shelving behind doors. It’ll pique interest and encourage people to step onto your stand to find out what lies behind.
10. Platforms and Podiums
Platforms and podiums are another effective way to showcase your offering. They’re perfect for larger products. Some of our partners have used podiums to showcase aircraft propellers and state-of-the-art drones. Put your product front and centre.
Print graphics that make sense for your stand. Materials range from tension fabric, to Foamex and semi-rigid PVC. If you opt for a tension fabric, you could suspend lighting behind it to create a light box effect. Your graphic artwork should incorporate your logo, brand colours and a standout brand message.
Counters are a trade show staple. They can double up as greeting desks and information points, and you can integrate screens into the surface for an interactive countertop. You can also integrate beer taps and mini fridges into them. Better still, your counters can be wrapped in graphics so they’ll work to reinforce the branding used on the rest of your display.
T3 gantries are bridge-like structures that attach one section of your display to another. You can clad them with brand messaging for better brand reach whilst framing the action going on underneath. They also provide a great solution for lighting and, when there is no platform floor, for carrying electrics around the stand.
14. Collateral Racks
Bringing along leaflets or brochures? Perhaps you’ve got product catalogues or business cards. Think strategically about where and how these will be displayed or stored on your stand, don’t leave it as an after-thought. Do you want them available to be easily picked up? Or do you want to control how and when you give them out?
Checklist: Before You Exhibit
1. Reserve Your Exhibiting Space Early
Trade show spaces can book up quickly. The spaces positioned best for visibility, reach and foot traffic flow will be the first to go. So, book yours in as early as possible to snatch up an exhibiting area primed for a more successful exhibiting experience.
2. Establish Goals
Think about why you’re attending. Is it to increase brand awareness? Generate new leads? Promote a new product? Establishing clear goals will help to direct your targets.
3. Find Out the Trade Show Demographic
Equally important: find out more about the trade show demographic. Understand who will be attending the show. What is their job function? Are they executive decision makers? You may need to know the age and gender of your demographic if it is important to your brand objectives. Knowing the demographic of the show is an important part of deciding to exhibit. Taking demographics into consideration can help you steer your exhibiting strategy.
4. Set Measurable Targets
With your goals established, it’s time to think about targets. They need to be measurable. For example, your target might be:
- Capture 100 valuable leads
- Network with 10 industry influencers
- Conduct 30 market research surveys
5. Decide on Your Message
Your message needs to be short and snappy. Catch the attention of passers-by with something captivating that grabs their attention. Distil what you want to get across into a twenty-odd second elevator-style pitch. Save time; get them interested.
6. Establish a Budget and Set Your ROI Target
Track the event performance for 9 – 12 months, subject to your sales cycle, to truly understand the business impact of exhibiting
7. Scout out Your Competitors
Find out more about who you’ll be competing with at your expo venue. Try and identify hot trends and bring something to your stand that will give you a competitive edge over other exhibitors.
8. Set up Your Exhibitor Profile
If you’re set to exhibit, complete your exhibitor profile so attendees can familiarise themselves with your brand and get to know what you’re about beforehand.
9. Pre-Show Promotion Strategy
A pre-show promotion strategy is a must. Create landing pages or digital signup forms. Spread the word that your exhibiting across your social media platforms. Maybe do a social media countdown. Use content to stir interest and raise awareness before you attend.
10. Come Up with Some Contests
Nothing like a contest to maximise engagement and generate buzz on your stand. Better yet, incorporate your product into the contest or raise the stakes of your contest with a prize. We did this on our Marketing Week Live 2019 stand, and it instantly got people interested.
11. Get Your Graphics Done in Time
If you outsource your graphics, make sure you know your vendor’s lead times for print and delivery. Also, find out about the substrate you plan on using and understand how your graphics will be produced to be sure your graphics reflect the quality of your brand.
12. Sort Out Logistics
Decide whether you want to take your team to take your display to the show or an install team. How will your stand make it to location?
13. Install and Dismantle
Again, who’s doing the install and dismantle, a professional team or your own staff? If your team is doing the install, do they have their step-by-step build plans at the ready to guide them?
14. Travel Documents
Passports, boarding passes, visas: all important documents to have sorted if your trade show is overseas. When on home ground, make sure your team have the right travel and accommodation information, passes, permits and venue details.
15. Choose Your Exhibiting Team
Who do you want on the stand? Pick a team that you think will work best to achieve the goals you’ve set. And train them – tell them why you’re exhibiting, share objectives and key messages so that they can deliver. Don’t forget an on-stand briefing each morning to reinforce the task in hand.
Is your team going to be wearing their standard work uniform? Or are you tailoring team outfits depending on the event? If you want to promote your brand message or a new product, incorporate it onto the backs of t-shirts. And get them ordered in time!
If you don’t have a photography enthusiast or a decent camera, invest in a professional photographer to get quality action shots of the day. The photos will make for great landing page and social media content.
18. Book Appointments Beforehand
75% of trade show attendees will have already decided on the booths they want to visit before attending the show (CEIR). With that in mind, try and reach out to people before the show and get them booked into appointments.
Checklist: Bring To The Show
Nowadays, most exhibitions have their own unique events apps with scanning technology for lead capture. In fact, event apps have seen a year on year growth in usage of 20% (Bizzabo). Find out if your event has an app before you exhibit and, if it does, download it.
2. Pads and Pens
Having pads and pens at the ready will cater to visitors who favour to give out their details the traditional way. They’re also useful if your clients want to jot down ideas or take away notes about your company. We always have pads and pens on stand to tie in with our Send us a scribble promise.
3. Tablets and Other Tech
Don’t forget your tablets! You’ll need these for lead capture, online forms, real-time social media interaction and so on. AV and VR technology might be an idea as well, to set you apart from the others and establish yourself as a future-ready brand.
Align giveaways with your trade show goals. If increased brand awareness is your game, give out branded water bottles and desk gadgets. Try to choose a giveaway that someone will use once they leave the expo venue.
Refreshments can be a real draw for you stand. Especially if your exhibiting on a hot, summer’s day. You’ll be their gleaming oasis in the exhibiting dessert. Also consider getting your bottles branded (see giveaways).
Checklist: During The Show
1. Body Language
Everything from eye contact duration, to hand gestures and body posture can impact the success rate of your sales effort. Constantly be aware of how you are coming across to visitors on the stand. Use open body language and opened palms. And remember: visitors are already judging you from 20 feet away.
2. Product Knowledge
According to Hubspot, 61% of buyers view providing relevant information as the most important factor for a positive sales experience. Create question and answer cheat sheets for FAQs. Read up and learn so your prepared to offer up answers visitors want to hear.
3. Schedule Follow-Ups
Once you’ve warmed up your leads at your expo, schedule follow-ups. Maybe they’d like to schedule in a product demonstration or a meeting to discuss the next step.Follow-ups will nurture your leads and will increase the likelihood of a conversion ten-fold.
4. Stagger Breaks – And Make Sure Your Team Takes Them!
Your team needs to be happy. Yes, you want to cram in as many conversations as possible, but they’re there to act as brand ambassadors. If your staff are tired out, they’re less likely to perform as well. Take advantage of breaks to recharge and refresh so that everyone is on top of their game.
Checklist: After The Show
You can start the follow up while the show is still going on, as well as immediately afterwards, and use tailored responses based on the conversation that took place. You could also mention the next steps promised. Also consider sending an email out to leads thanking them for attending the show and reminding them of who you are, what they saw from you at the show and reinforce your brand in their mind.
2. Evaluate Performance
What worked? Or didn’t? Did your team think about their performance? What did attendees have to say about their experience on your stand? Get feedback from everyone from your team involved with the show. If possible, you could conduct a visitor survey asking for feedback. Use the results of your review to inform your future exhibiting approaches.
3. Nurture Your Leads
Make sure all of your leads are added to your CRM database and keep track of them. Then plan email and phone follow ups to nurture them and get them buying your product.
Trade shows can be hard to navigate, and with so much to think about it’s easy to forget something that could end up being vital to the success of your trade show appearances. Use this trade show check list when you next exhibit, and you’ll be well on your way to getting those valuable leads and generating fantastic ROI.