2023 Trade Show Planning Tips

Trade shows across many industries typically start around March time, with this in mind, we need to start to plan for how we optimise the experience early in the new year.  With a little bit of planning, not only can we ensure we don’t forget anything, but we can also gain some economies of scale, keeping budgets down.

Gatherings of exhibitors, business representatives and professionals provided at an industry trade show can create an invaluable chance to share expertise, connect with like-minded colleagues and help to drive brand awareness.  In such a digitised world, being able to communicate your brand and connect with your audience in person is more powerful than ever. Do it well, and trade shows provide the perfect platform to generate leads and sales directly from your target audience, not to mention plenty of networking opportunities with potential collaborators. 

Of course, just like any marketing activity, trade shows take planning and forethought to make them a success. Whether you are making your trade show debut this year or you are feeling a little rusty on exhibition planning, here’s everything you need to know for your next series of exhibitions. 

1. Review and reflect on your last trade show

For those who have delved into the trade show world before, taking some time to reflect on what worked, what did not work and what you would do differently is valuable. Here are some questions you might ask yourself: 

  • Did you speak to as many people as you were hoping? 
  • Did you capture their contact details?
  • Did your audience engage with your post-event incentive? 
  • Do you need more giveaways next time?  
  • Could your exhibition stand be more visually impactful? 
  • Did you achieve the objectives you set out? 
  • Did you notice any other competitors who did things a little differently? 
  • How could you improve on what you did?

Through your reflection, you will begin to form a picture of what you would like this year to look like and ways you can improve on the event outcome.  Always being clear on your goals and how you define success will be really important.

2. Set goals for the event

The goals and objectives you set for the trade show will be key, from what budget you have available to spend through to stand design and the customer journey you are going to try to take any potential audiences on.  Here are some ideas of what our client’s objectives are to help you craft yours:  

  • How many leads or sales do you wish to generate? 
  • How could you track an increase in brand awareness?
  • If you wish to launch a new product, what has the uptake or feedback been?
  • Build relationships with current clients.
  • Does this lead to further discussions or conversations? 

3. Design your stand and marketing materials (the fun bit)

Once you’ve reviewed your past events and set your objectives, it’s time to move on to the fun part, designing your exhibition stand. This covers everything from the banners and signage to the giveaways and marketing collateral around the event. Whilst not exhaustive, here are some ideas to consider:

  • Exhibition Stand: the stand will give you an opportunity to make an impact.  Creating eye-catching and impactful creative for your signage, pop-up banners, and event furniture will all help to create an impression and impact with your potential audiences.  Don’t forget that less is more, keep your creative simple, eye-catching and don’t use too much text, that’s where your marketing collateral comes in! 
  • Marketing Collateral: think about your customer journey and what tools you might need to help them to want to find out more about your business and brand.  Common tools include: leaflets, brochures and business cards.  A perfect giveaway to visitors who are in a rush but would like more information on your services, their design should be consistent with the look and feel of your stand. 
  • Clothing: There is something so effective about a whole team in a smart t-shirt, fleece, polo shirt, jumper, or even matching lanyards. It adds a touch of professionalism to the look and feel of your stand . . . .and makes you easy to spot on the day!  Plus, as you walk around the show, you are a walking advertisement.
  • Giveaways: From pens, travel cups, magnets, and caps to stress balls and tech gifts, there really is no end to the promotional items we can put a logo on. Choose a giveaway that is useful, memorable and branded and you are onto a winner! 

4. Post-event incentives

So, the event has come and gone, once you’ve just about recovered from the big day, it’s time to touch base with everyone you spoke to at the event. However you gathered potential leads the most important thing is to make sure you use it! Whether it’s posting an offer, sending an email, picking up the phone or even a slice of cake in a branded sleeve, sending them some direct marketing in the post is a unique way to do exactly that. 

5. Review how it went

Of course, the most important thing you can do is review whether you met your objectives, reflect on what went well and take note of what could be improved for next time.

In summary

With trade shows starting again in March, we hope our guide has given some insight into how printed items plays a key part in making an event a success. We always recommend starting planning for trade shows 2-3 months in advance to give you enough time to get everything in order.  

As you know, we still have some items with really long lead times.  So if you have any events coming up in Q1, please do start to prepare for them early, and of course, if Q Print can help support you in designing that impactful, results-focused trade show, please get in touch.  

Raina Joyce

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