Tradeshow prep season is upon us. You’ve booked your booth space (probably around the time you wrapped up last year’s show). You know who’s producing your booth assets. You’re thinking through who’ll staff the booth. But what other big picture questions do you need to answer before you get down to the nitty-gritty details of marketing and branding at your next tradeshow?
Here are a few of the most critical strategic questions to ponder as you begin planning:
How (if at all) will this tradeshow be different than those in years past?
Consider the larger context of the show. It’s possible that the trade organization’s focus or emphasis has shifted slightly since the last show. If not, it’s still likely there are new drivers and trends that have emerged in the market since then. Furthermore, show location, timing and calendar proximity to other shows in the same market space could impact the quantity, quality and type of attendee.
What is our primary objective for the show?
Perhaps you’re targeting a specific number of quality leads or using the tradeshow as a platform for a new product launch. Whatever objective you’re looking to achieve, it should directly inform and influence the decisions you make at a tactical level — from booth messaging to collateral and giveaways — and thus should be agreed upon as early as possible.
What dates do I need to be mindful of?
The day the show begins is not the only date critical to tradeshow planning. As soon as you can, reach out to the company handling production and shipping of your booth assets (whether that’s one or multiple vendors) and ask them to provide a firm ship date for those assets, along with the date they’ll need all design files (for any new booth graphics that may need to be produced). From there, you can back out your project calendars and know when it’s time to get started.
Tradeshow planning can be as (or perhaps more) stressful than the show itself. Ask yourself the big picture questions above to help ensure your planning gets off to the right start — and share any other fundamental strategic planning tips and tricks you have below.