Event Planning Timeline
Event Planning Timeline

How to Plan a Trade Show or Conference Timeline

Exhibiting in trade shows can be time consuming and confusing, especially if you don’t know where to start or what to plan for. There is also a constant string of deadlines that can result in additional expenses, if missed. Creating a timeline to follow from start to finish can take some time but is well worth the effort. Follow the below sample timeline to determine what you should be planning and when.

Create the Blueprint: 12 months prior

  • Review past shows, decide what worked and what didn’t.
  • Set new objectives based on the results of past shows.
  • Strategically choose the most beneficial trade show for your company to exhibit at.
  • Determine reasonable budget for the show.

Focus on Intentions, Goals and Objectives: 9-12 months prior

  • Revisit and set specific goals, objectives and outcomes for participating in the show.
  • Determine the actual exhibit needs such as the exhibit structure itself, collateral materials, technology and graphics. If this is your first time exhibiting, let the experienced staff at Apple Rock help you to identify all your needs.
  • Secure show space.
  • Start the design process.
  • Acquire exhibitor guides from the show management.

When creating a marketing plan think about who you will invite, how will the general public know about your exhibit, how will you interact with the attendees at the show, how will you follow up later?

Use Your Imagination:  6-9 months prior

  • Work with your design house to create the desired look and feel of your booth. Having consistent and clear branding is important. Your designers will be a valuable asset in this process as long as you communicate clearly your needs, wants and expectations.
  • Determine collateral material or interactive technology needs.
  • Whether you are using traditional collateral or interactive technology, you must decide the most effective way to convey your message.
  • Research promotional items that will make a lasting impression and help you stand out to the attendees.

The Devil’s in the Details: 3-6 months prior

  • Order promotional items.
  • Order collateral materials or make sure the interactive technology is being loaded with all the literature, product photos/information and videos you want to show.
  • Plan staffing and develop a staffing schedule for the booth. Do you need to hire supplemental staff?
  • Order all show services such as shipping, drayage, electrical needs and cleaning.  Be aware of advance discount deadlines.

Marketing, Marketing and More Marketing: 1-3 months prior

  • Begin all pre-show marketing initiatives, such as direct mail, social networking and public relations, etc.
  • Make all travel arrangements.
  • Contact vendors, prospects and existing customers that you know will be at the show to arrange appointments, dinners or meetings.

Ready, Set, Go: 1-3 weeks prior

  • Double check and confirm everything!
  • Make sure your exhibit, graphics and all supplies made it to the venue.
  • Create a follow-up plan for after the show.

Using this information to create a master timeline will help you become a trade show pro. It will also help ensure all of your goals and objectives for the exhibit will be achieved while putting you on the path to becoming a Qualified Leads Champion.