Whether you are a first-time exhibitor, or a trade show veteran, there are many fundamental items to consider in order to enjoy a successful trade show exhibit and a profitable show. Although much is written about each of these considerations , the following list provides a summary, in one convenient article. Certainly there are always more subjects (and subtopics) that could be included in this listing, but this is a solid starting place. Using an internet search engine for each of these topics will round-out your knowledge base and ensure excellent profitability.
3-second Rule for Success: In large part, the ultimate success of your display hinges on the 3-second rule. In short, your trade show exhibit has only 3-seconds to grab attention and draw people in to your booth. The components of your display must work together in concert to make this rule work consistently. Budgeting:
As an example, a strong exhibit budget formula could be as follows:
- As a solar system vendor, I know that just one customer is worth $30,000 (lifetime value of one account)
- I am willing to spend 5% of that lifetime value to get one new customer (5% of $30,000 = $1,500)
- There will be a minimum of 1,000 attendees (audience) at the trade show
- I can comfortably gain 2% of that audience as new customers (2% of 1,000 = 20 new customers)
- To get those 20 customers I am willing to spend $1500 to get each one (20 X $1,500 = $30,000)
- But I am only willing to spend 50% of that investment on the trade show ($30,000 50% = $15,000)
- So I am spending just $15,000 on the trade show in order to earn $600,000 (20 X $30,000 = $600,000)
- Then remember that you will use your display for several years wow! Tradeshows are valuable!
A little bit of research on trade show exhibits planning will build an accurate checklist of tasks to accomplish before the trade show. It is a proactive idea to begin planning at least 6 months before the show. Ask these basic questions about your trade show plan:
Exhibitor s Handbook:
- Does you plan include a budget and schedule of expenses?
- Is your plan based upon credible sources (like the Exhibitor s handbook from the show sponsor)?
- Does your plan include all show deadlines and self-imposed deadlines?
- Does your plan include objectives, goals, and target numbers for the return on your show investment?
- Does your plan include the desired location and size of your booth space?
- Does your plan include a schedule of meetings and proper staffing/training for the show?
- Does your plan include a pre-show marketing/promotional strategy?
- Does your plan include all the logistics for the exhibit transport/shipping, setup, and takedown?
- Have you planned for all of your ordering: the exhibit itself, literature, giveaways, prize(s), etc.?
- Does your plan include creation and execution of any presentations?
- Does your plan include hotel bookings, airfare, transportation, meals, etc.?
- Does your plan include post-show tasks and activities?
The handbook, kit, or manual that the trade show sponsor provides to all exhibitors is the bible for the show. It will contain a wealth of information that you should be very familiar with before (and during) the planning stages. In this handbook you should find:
- General information, including pricing, schedules, regulations, terms and conditions, forms, and all deadlines
- Payment information, including early bird pricing, complete payment forms, and more
- Shipping and material handling, including (inbound and outbound) shipping options, vendors, advance warehouse (if applicable), labor forms and contractors, etc.
- Furnishing and flooring concerns, including furniture/accessories, and sometimes a catalog
- Exhibit/display policies and procedures
- Labor services and contractors
- Facility information
The most typical introductory size of a booth (in the USA) is 10 X10 , and will go up in size from there. Many exhibitors invest in multiple spaces in a row or back-to-back. The show sponsor, however, will likely consider most space size requests. In general, there are four show floor configurations as follows:
- Linear Booth is a space with other booths on either side or back
- Peninsula Exhibit is an exhibit or area with aisles on three sides
- Split-Island Exhibit is a peninsula booth that shares a common back wall with another peninsula exhibit
- Island Exhibit is any booth exposed to aisles on all four sides
Pre-show Marketing: Most exhibitors will have a pre-show marketing plan or campaign. This is a smaller separate plan within the overall trade show plan mentioned above. Again, a simple internet search will expose many resources with useful information on building this pre-show strategy.
In Part 2 of this article we will discuss such topics as: exhibit purchase or rental, display transport/shipping, exhibitor survival kit, staffing and training, display setup, exhibit opening, giveaways and prizes, and post-show follow-up.