Are you going to a trade show as an exhibitor? Not sure what you will need to prepare or bring? Here are some tips and advice to help you have the most successful trade show possible. Below is a FREE quick and easy checklist that you can download to make sure that you are as ready as can be to have trade show success. 

We will be covering four areas: exhibit items, basic office supplies, technology, and miscellaneous items that will make your life easier during the trade show. Are you ready to get going on your trade show preparation?

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Exhibit Items:

First and foremost, you need to have your signage, which can include (but is not limited to) your booth, pop up banners, overhead banners, tabletop signs, hanging signs, etc. Also, make sure that you have practiced setting your booth (and accouterment) up and taking it down before going to the show. If you are exhibiting at a larger show or exhibit hall, you might be required to use their personnel to set up and take down your booth/exhibit. You will want to coordinate that with the show prior to your arrival to ensure you are tracking and are prepared.

In addition to your booth, you will want to have some promotional items. These are an easy way for you to get your brand in the hands of potential customers. You don’t have to spend a fortune on these, just make sure it is something that is easy for attendees to carry AND something that they will use OR find unique. The goal is to have them remember your brand at a later date and time. 

Print is not dead! You will want to have print collateral materials, which include brochures, rack cards, postcards, catalogs, sell sheets, etc. One of our clients has unique postcards created that are sent out to show attendees who stopped by their booth. If you are a smaller company or a solopreneur, an easy way to incorporate this personal feel is to have a VA who can enter the addresses into a spreadsheet and then send out as soon as you get back to your home base. This is a friendly and gentle reminder of you and your organization after the fact. In addition to the outreach after the fact, do not forget business cards. Bring at least three to four times as many as you think you will need (you will thank us).

Name tags make life easier! You will want to have two name tags for each person working in your booth, plus some generic name tags (just in case). Do NOT let your team leave the booth with their name tags on in the evening unless they are attending an after-hours networking event. Otherwise, the name tag might not make it back to the booth the next day. Thus, the extra custom and generic name tags.

First impressions matter and venue table linens often leave a lot to be desired. Why not use linens that incorporate your branding (which are reasonably priced) or rent nice ones from a party rental company? Either option is not pricey, yet makes your booth far more aesthetically appealing.

In your trade show preparation, don’t forget if you have a presentation, video, or any media for people to look at, in addition to speaking with you, test it PRIOR to arriving at the show. Lastly, and this should be common sense, but if you sell a product, please make sure to have samples there. People are inherently visual and tactile, so they like to be able to see and touch what you are talking about and selling. If what you are selling is too large/dangerous/etc. Have a video available.

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Office Supplies:

Make it easy for visitors to take notes – have pens, pencils, and markers. Since many times the pens might “grow legs” and go with your visitors, why not have branded pens? Follow the same principles on quantities with pens as you do with business cards. Think of how many you will need and bring three to four times that many. This is an easy way to keep your brand front and center (and be prepared). In addition to pens and pencils, make sure to have notepads handy as frequently you will want to jot down something a visitor or coworker said for follow up later. 

Scissors, paper clips, rubber bands, and staplers seem like simple things, but they are clutch when you are at a tradeshow. Trust us, leave some packed with your trade show gear so when it is time you don’t have to remember to pack them. Lastly, remember tape – duct tape, masking tape, and scotch tape. You will need these.

Technology:

First and foremost, remember to bring whatever you are using to get your message out there (computer, TV, iPad, etc.). Also, don’t forget about charging cables/power cables. We have seen more people making a last-minute trip to the store because of a forgotten charging cable. Speaking of cables, don’t forget HDMI cables and any other cables you might need to make your presentation happen OR your life easier.

When you are preparing for the show, make sure to inquire with the venue if you will need electricity to ensure your booth has power run to it – and get it in writing from the venue in case there are any issues upon arrival. Speaking of power – extension cords. Extension cords. Extension cords. Go ahead and pack multiple cords with your trade show gear. Just do it. You can thank us later. 

Lastly, do yourself a favor and check ALL your technology BEFORE you leave. Make sure your presentation works. Make sure your TV/iPad/Tablet/Computer/etc. works and that your presentation looks good on those mediums. Do NOT wait until the night before you leave to test everything. Just don’t.

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Miscellaneous:

From years of experience with trade show preparation and conventions here are some items, that while not a NECESSITY, will make your experience much more enjoyable. Bring photos of your assembled booth. This will help you ensure that everything is where it needs to be promptly. Also, this will prevent the overwhelm of conventions from making you forget something until the last day (big oops!). Next, be prepared with a first aid kit. It doesn’t have to be huge, but having some essential items handy will be a benefit for you and visitors to your booth. 

Speaking of being prepared, don’t forget to bring safety pins. You never know when a wardrobe malfunction might happen, but they usually occur at the least opportune times (i.e. when you can’t leave the booth and your shirt has a hole or won’t button).

At most trade shows and conventions you will be in the booth for a while, and you might not be able to leave for meals or snacks, so bring some handheld snacks. Also, make sure those snacks and food items aren’t fragrant or have nuts. Just something quick and easy to get you through. Also, bring gum and breath mints for during the show, people prefer to speak with people who have good breath. Also, since you will be shaking a  lot of hands, bring hand sanitizer and feel free to leave it out where visitors to your booth can use it as well. 

You will also want to bring some wire or string just in case any of your overhead signage needs it. While most venues will have things to hang your signs, this is a “just in case” item that is super handy. Lastly, don’t forget zip ties and baggies. The zip ties to hide or organize cords and the baggies to collect miscellaneous items as needed.

Don’t forget to download our FREE checklist and let us know how your trade show preparation and trade show go!

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