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The Essential Trade Show Checklist

trade show checklistWhat do you need to succeed at trade shows? If you can check these 16 points off your list, you’re well on your way:

  1. Align your trade show goals with your overall marketing and company goals
  2. Create goals that are specific, measurable, and timely
  3. Pay early to avoid rush charges and (surprisingly high) late fees
  4. Booth space rental is about one-third your budget, for the rest invest more in areas that give you the best R.O.I.
  5. Pick shows with an audience that best matches your target market
  6. Go back to the highest R.O.I. shows from previous years
  7. Design your exhibit to boldly and clearly communicate who you are, what you sell, and why your prospects should buy from you
  8. Design your exhibit to support your booth staffers as a workspace…and work to keep your ongoing expenses down
  9. Reach out to attendees before the show, via social media, phone, email, mail, ads, and the web
  10. Offer attendees something of value (information, presentations, demonstration, show specials, giveaways) in exchange for a visit
  11. Select motivated, friendly, knowledgeable booth staffers
  12. Train your staffers to handle the steps to shorter trade show interactions: engage, present, qualify, and close
  13. Capture at-show, on paper or electronically, the prospect info your sales team needs after the show — and then give it to them after the show
  14. Before the show even starts, prepare a person, materials, and a database to fulfill your leads…and an all-out effort ready to follow up leads after the show
  15. Plan ahead to give yourself more time to adapt to problems, especially for international shows
  16. Take a binder with all your contracts and contacts with you to the show, including graphic art files on a thumb drive if your display gets lost

Like the list?  Will use it?  Think we missed something essential?  Add your comments in the box below.

Get more essential trade show marketing gems in your free copy of What’s Working In Exhibiting, a 32-page white paper report that shows how your peers are improving results and stretching their budgets.  Click here to get your free copy.

Mike Thimmesch
About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

11 responses to “The Essential Trade Show Checklist

    1. Agreed! It’s too easy to come back from the heroic effort to set up and work the show, and then get distracted by the big pile of work and mail that’s on your desk. There’s a great saying, “The first day back from the show is the last day of the show,” meaning you’ve still got to complete your work from the show by getting those leads quickly into the right hands.

    1. Thanks for posting about my 16-point checklist on your blog. That 16-item list boils down to three letters: ROI. But as we trade show marketers know, without doing most, if not all those things right, ROI will be elusive to attain.

  1. Mike,
    I like reading your tips and would like to share them with my exhibitors when I see ones that are beneficial. May I use them by giving Skyline credit with a link to your site? Currently I use ones from Matt Hill and Keith Ferazzi with their permission. Thank you.

    1. Hello Susan,
      Yes, you can certainly share Skyline Trade Show Tips with your exhibitors. If you like, you can link to the page itself from your website about your show, and all our latest news will be there to share. Thanks for the compliment!

        1. Actually per my Director of Communication I will list as reprinted by your name/Skyline with the link to the site. Thank you.

  2. I love checklists and this one is a good one!
    However, I believe a checklist for a trade show is more efficient when directly linked to a budget sheet. It is so important that exhibitors control their costs and budget their expenses properly and early on. That gives you better control and also better vision of your results.

    Thanks for your list!

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