Creating a trade show is meant to be exciting. The planning process is the beginning of a great journey. You are going to build something new and special. However, organizing a trade show is not an easy journey. You are going to face many challenges and overcome different issues.
Planning an expo involves mastering different skills. From strategic planning to marketing execution and event coordination, creating an expo involves many tasks. The amount of tasks you need to perform can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to struggle.
At Business Expo Center, creating and managing trade shows is one of our key daily tasks. We value our clients and partners, so we share our experience with you to make it easier for you to get started.
1. Plan Your Expo
First things first, you should plan your event with a step-by-step schedule. It can be tempting to dive into the exciting part of planning an expo, However; it would be a mistake to do so. Spending time creating a plan and schedule will increase your chance of success.
During your planning stage you should focus on four main elements:
- Identifying the potential of your market
- Drafting a project specification
- Drafting your marketing plan
- Establishing your budget
2. Build a Team
Creating a Trade Show by yourself would be too hard. One of the most important tasks, to begin with, is to create a team that will support your expo.
When it comes to creating a team, you have two possibilities. You can either outsource or hire people. Outsourcing presents some advantages. You will decrease your fix costs and lower your financial risk. Yet, your team may be less motivated and committed. Hiring people will be more expensive and less flexible. But, it will be easier for you to create momentum.
What we recommend at Business Expo Center is to hire people for the task you consider as valuable and outsource the tasks you consider less valuable. For a large event, we recommend hiring at least one person for the following roles:
- Project Manager
- Event Planner
- Marketing Manager
Everything that is related to operations, graphic design and web design can be outsourced. It is also important that the people you hire have cross-functional skills. The project manager should have a solid understanding of financial planning.
3. Find a Main Partner/Sponsor
A major element people struggle with is promoting their event. Promoting your expo can be difficult without the necessary resources. One tactic that can help you is to secure a main partner/sponsor that has a lot of expertise in the industry you are targeting.
For best results, this main partnership/Sponsorship should be established as a trade. You are aiming to establish a mutually beneficial partnership. You should ask for help regarding marketing your event. This can include:
- Sharing customer database
- Displaying stationary in their store
- Asking for help and advice regarding your expo
In return, you should offer your main partner/sponsor, high exposure before, during and after the event. You can, for example, include your sponsor on your mailing list, display banners during the expo, give a free booth to your sponsor, etc.
4. Find the Perfect Location
Once you have your plan, your team, and your main partner/sponsor, you will have to start executing your operational tasks.
By developing a good understanding of your market and establishing a partnership, you should be able to forecast your foot traffic, the number of exhibitors and the number of speakers. Knowing this is important. It will help you find a venue that will best fit your needs.
There is more you should consider when booking a venue. First, you should evaluate the location. Is this location close to freeways, hotels, and restaurants? Is it centrally located in your target market? Second, you should consider the different services provided by the venue. Does the venue provide free marketing services, help with event planning and boosting attendance? Finally, you should consider the flexibility of the event space. Is the venue just one big room, or does it have multiple rooms?
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that you need to take into account when choosing your venue. It is an important decision. You should always tour the venue first.
5. Choose a Caterer
This decision can be limited by the venue you pick. Begin picking your caterer by checking for any restrictions or recommendations that your venue might have. If your venue has limitations, you will be restricted to their parameters. Other venues will allow outside caterers. If you bring an outside caterer you may or may not have to pay extra fees to the venue. The model depends on the venue. There are two things to consider before choosing a caterer:
- The type of food: this depends on your audience. Make sure to choose a type of food that most of your attendees will like. You can also request a variation of items from your caterer.
- The type of serving: you have three different options, plated, buffet, or sandwich. Each one of these serving has pros and cons. What we see the most at Business Expo Center is a buffet setting. This gives more flexibility to the attendees.
Make sure to establish your expectations with your caterer. Be clear on how many people you expect to attend and use an RSVP system if applicable. You don’t want to run out of food during your event.
6. Execute Your Marketing Plan
Once you have set the date and the place for your event, you should start promoting it. This is the longest and the most involved part in creating a trade show. This is where your marketing plan comes into action. Follow the different steps and tactics you have established, but stay flexible. You should track every single marketing action you’ve taken and adjust them depending on their performance.
You can use different marketing and sales technics to sell attendee tickets and exhibitor booths. Here is a non-exhaustive list:
- Cold calls
- Email marketing
- Social Media promotion
- Developing incentive for your exhibitor to promote your event to their audience
- Ask our Event Coordinators to connect you to our free marketing services
From our experience, one of the trends we see is that the more exhibitors and speakers you have, the easier it is to sell additional booths and attendee tickets. We have also observed that attendees tend to wait until the last minute to register for an expo or a trade show. So creating urgency and incentive (early bird price, limited space available, etc.) will help you sell more tickets and booths faster. Request free assistance from our Marketing team when you request your quote here.
7. Create Your On-Site Marketing Materials
The big day is coming soon. You want to make sure that your attendees, exhibitors, speakers and sponsors will have the best experience during your event.
To ensure that people participating at your event will have the best experience, you need to create on-site marketing materials. These marketing materials will also provide you a medium to promote your sponsors.
To create the artwork, you can either outsource or hire graphic designers. Hiring a graphic designer will speed the process up. However, outsourcing will help you save money. Freelancers are a great way to outsource your graphic design work. If you are on a budget, websites such as Fiverr.com will help you save money.
You should thoroughly think about the type of marketing materials you want to create. Following is a non-exhaustive list of marketing materials:
- Program brochures
- Swag bag
- Directional Signs
- Flyers / Prospectus
There is a lot to do when it comes to planning a trade show. You are going to handle and manage multiple tasks. Organization should be your main priority. Every single minute spent on developing a plan of action is time well spent. It will help you execute your tasks, and gain time later on. You are going to go through a lot of ups and downs. Stay focused on your final goal and don’t get discouraged by potential issues.
Be sure to book your venue with us today to get started planning your trade show.