Trade shows provide a great opportunity for small business owners to showcase their products and services, network with other professionals, increase brand awareness, drive sales, meet potential customers and discover the latest trends in their sector of activity. However, a fair has many aspects that attendees need to consider. Planning is crucial because you want to be able to present your business in the best light to your potential customers and peers.
If you have events planned during trade show season, now is the time to plan each step of the process.
Here is a checklist of the main steps to follow before participating in a trade show. Don’t forget to consult our small business solutions that will meet all your needs, and this, in a center near you .
Determine trade show costs: Costs for a trade show vary, but even before booth design and marketing, it’s important to think about some of the basic costs, such as entry fees, the cost of your booth space per square foot, if some show locations cost more than others, show service costs (electricity, cleaning, internet access, etc.), travel and hotel costs, and so on. Budgeting for these basic expenses can help you later when other expenses arise.
Choose your location without delay: As the most coveted spaces go quickly, be sure to choose the location of your booth quickly. This will give you more options in the busiest area.
Complete and submit your contract: You will need to complete a contract (and sometimes several) before you can exhibit at a trade show. Read them carefully, fill them out carefully and return them as soon as possible. Documents may include a booth rental agreement, general terms and conditions, certain insurance contracts, etc. Review contracts carefully, as they will likely contain important information about the show or your booth. It is imperative to respect the rules of the show.
Consider accommodation and transportation: Some trade shows may last several days or take place away from home. If so, you will need to arrange transportation to get there and accommodations for the duration of the event. If you have to fly, booking a ticket well in advance will usually be less expensive than waiting until the last minute. Also, as hotels can fill up quickly, especially those located around the show, book early!
Preparation of the booth and equipment
Plan your exhibit materials: Before moving on to designing and producing materials for your exhibit, it’s always a good idea to think about how you want it to look. Will you have posters and banners displaying information about your business? What type of visual aids will you place in your booth (e.g. retractable banners, flyers , signs , lighted displays , etc.)? Do you want to hand over brochures or business cardsto people who visit your booth and when you make new contacts? How about generating QR codes that would serve as quick links to your website? Think about the types of material you want to present and distribute.
Design your booth materials to match your brand: It is essential to maintain your brand identity at a trade show since the objective is to present your company as well as your products and services to the public. This is where creating visual elements specific to your brand , such as your logo or the colors associated with your brand, can be important. A trade show can be very busy, so you need to promote your business as best you can. Opt for visual elements that can be seen from afar, and stay true to your brand by choosing colors that match your industry.
Print your materials: Now that you’ve decided on the materials you’ll need, it’s time to print them . You need to make sure the posters and banners are the right size and that you have enough items, such as flyers, business cards or brochures, for everyone. If it’s a busy show, bring more materials — you never know which visitor might be a potential supplier or customer, so you need to have enough materials on hand. Surpluses can still be used in your store.
Think about the other elements of your booth: In addition to branded hardware, think about accessories you might need, such as tables, chairs, display screens, interactive games, etc. The longer attendees stay at your booth, the more likely you are to tell them about your business.
Ship products and materials ahead of time: It’s critical to ship materials before the show to ensure everything arrives on time and in one piece. Once you have all your gear ready, choose the shipping service that’s right for you, calculate shipping costs, and use packing supplies to protect your goods in transit. It can save you time and a lot of stress!
Showcase how the show is going on social media: The preparation for a trade show can be great content to add to your social media accounts, in the form of video or text. For example, a real-time video of your booth setup can be a great tool for social media platforms, while a blog post about your show journey can be great for your website. Generate engagement and buzzaround your social media booth can be both great promotion during the show and help you reach audiences who aren’t at the show but are interested in your industry. During the show, post content and include any hashtags associated with the
Consider where visitors are: Consider the traffic flow in the show and place your materials in a location that will capture visitors’ attention and draw them to your booth. If you place your posts too low, they won’t be as effective or visible; remember to place your visual material at eye level.