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7 Elements to Consider When Organizing a Trade Show

Posted By Teddy Crepineau, Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, January 20, 2016
 

  

Creating a trade show is exciting. It is the beginning of a great journey. You are going to build something new and special. However, it is not an easy journey. You are going to face many challenges and overcome different issues.


Indeed, planning an expo involves mastering different skills. From strategic planning to marketing execution and event planning, creating an expo involves many tasks. This amount of tasks you need to perform can be overwhelming.


But you don’t have to struggle. At Business Expo Center, creating and managing expos is one of our daily tasks. We decided to share our experience with you and make it easier for you to get started.


7 steps to make your trade show organization easier

1. Plan Your Expo

First thing first, you should plan your event. It can be tempting to dive into the exciting part of planning an expo. However, it would be a huge mistake to do so. Spending time creating a plan of actions will increase your chance of success.


At Business Expo Center we have created a process that allows us to identify expos with high potential and exit early in the planning process for expos with little potential. This approach allows us to reduce the financial risk and enhance our chance of success. It enables us to develop a deep understanding of our target market and to understand the dynamic of our environment. This will ultimately help us determine the perfect date and time for the expo.

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 is going to be hard. You are going to have to handle a lot of different and non-related tasks. So, one of the most important tasks to do 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 present 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 a 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. We recommend to hire at least one person for the following roles:

  • Project Manager
  • Event Planner
  • Marketing Manager
  • Sales

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 getting the word out there. Promoting your expo can be hard. 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 or/and that is view as an expert by your target audience.

For best results, this main partnership / Sponsorship should be established as a trade. It will help your partner to get involve with you. 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
  • Etc.

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 on your operational tasks.


By developing a good understanding of your market and establishing a partnership, you should be able, at this point, to forecast your foot traffic, the number of exhibitors and the number of speakers. Knowing this is important. It will help you find the 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 unless you are familiar with the place.


5. Choose a Caterer

This decision can be limited by the venue you pick. Indeed, certain venues do not allow outside caterers. If this is the case, you will be limited to whatever the venue offers. 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 target audience. Make sure to choose a type of food that most of your attendees will like. You can also mix to cater to everyone’s taste.
  • The type of serving: you have three different options, plated, buffet, or sandwich. Each one of this serving has pros and cons. What we see the most at Business Expo Center is buffet setting. This gives more flexibility to the attendees.

Make sure to establish your expectation with your caterer. Be clear on how many people you expect to attend. 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 involving 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
  • Mailing
  • Email marketing
  • Social Media promotion
  • PPC
  • Display
  • Developing incentive for your exhibitor to promote your event to their audience
  • Etc.

From our experience, one of the trends we see is that the more exhibitors and speakers you have, the easiest it is to sell additional booths and attendee tickets. We have also observed that attendees tend to wait 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 your sell more tickets and booths faster.


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:

  • Banner
  • Kiosks
  • Program bag
  • Swag bag
  • Directional Signs
  • Flyers / Prospectus
  • Etc.

Wrap-up

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 demotivated by potential issues. 


 


 

 

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Tags:  conference  event coordinator  event planning  meet  trade show  trade shows 

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