When organizing a trade show, many factors come into play. As you plan your event and devise your marketing strategies, different challenges and issues will likely arise — along with triumphs. The key is to not allow yourself to become overwhelmed. Ask for help and suggestions during the journey, and follow these 7 tips to help you reach your goal of organizing a successful trade show.
- Draft a Plan of Your Event
Every successful trade show begins with planning — a roadmap of how to get from ground zero to a successful event. Here are the four main stages of planning you should direct your focus on:
- Identify the potential market
- Create a project specification
- Create a marketing plan
- Create a budget
Even if you create a plan, you’ll still need to commit to being flexible. During the planning and execution of an event this size, which contains so many moving parts, it’s inevitable that you’ll hit at least one or two snags.
- Hire a Team
Attempting to tackle all the tasks that go into planning a trade show by yourself is extremely difficult, if not impossible — not to mention how much time it will take when you are the only person working on the event.
The best option is to hire a team. Or if your budget will not allow you to hire a team, hire at least one other person to help you cover tasks such as planning, marketing and sales.
You can also choose to outsource some of the tasks that have less of an impact on your overall plan, such as graphic designing. That way, if your outsourcing contact falls through, you won’t be as stressed as you would if the person who was supposed to complete tasks critical to your overall plan flaked out.
- Seek Out a Sponsor
You can plan the best trade show ever, but if no one knows about it, no one will come. Bottom line: You need help promoting your trade show, and securing a partner or a sponsor can help you immensely.
Look for a partner or sponsor who has proven expertise in your target industry. If you can find one that’s recognized as an industry expert — even better. A sponsor can also help you by promoting your event via its website, social media channels and/or brick-and-mortar location.
In return, you can offer the sponsor a booth in a prime location at the trade show — for free. When creating your on-site marketing materials, you can also include your sponsor’s name. And, of course, in any pre-event advertising you do, you’ll want to mention your sponsor’s name.
- Book the Perfect Venue
As soon as you have a solid understanding of the market you’re targeting for your trade show, forecast the number of exhibitors you think you will have, as well as the number of speakers you’re planning to book. By forecasting, you’ll know what size venue — and what type of amenities — you’ll need.
Location is extremely important when booking a venue. You’ll want something that’s close to hotels, restaurants and transportation lines, such as the event venues NYC offers. For example, if you were renting a space in Manhattan’s Penn Pavilion, you’d check out this list of local conferences in NYC to enjoy during your stay.
The number of rooms the venue has is also key. For example, if you’re planning on having speakers, you’ll likely want them to have a separate space away from the hustle and bustle of the trade show.
- Promote the Trade Show
Once you’ve booked the venue, you can begin promoting your event. Refer back to the marketing plan you drafted, which can include strategies such as:
- Social media promotion and advertising
- Email marketing
- Sponsored advertising
To get the ball rolling, offer incentives for signing up early for the show. As exhibitors and speakers sign up for your event, change your marketing strategy to include the names of those who will be exhibiting.
Publishing exhibitors names is not only helpful to encourage other potential exhibitors to sign up for the event, but it also helps those who like to research the event beforehand and know who their competition will be, so they can prepare their own marketing strategies.
- Create On-Site Marketing Materials
This is a task you can outsource to a freelancer if you’re interested in saving money. But you’ll need to do your research before choosing someone to make sure that you’ll get the quality of design and materials you’re expecting so both you and your sponsors will be happy. Marketing materials can include:
- Event schedules
- Directional signs