Today we will be featuring a trade show planning timeline with all the key things you need to know. You will see that a lot goes into planning and getting ready for a trade show. It is important not to leave everything for the last minute or it will severely impair your ability to have a successful and smooth showing.


Trade Show Planning Timeline - Infographic

Click here to download the infographic!


Let’s break down the above infographic into the time frames. Here is step by step help in preparing for a trade show and setting objectives:

6 Months Out

At 6 months out, you should be reviewing your past objectives and setting new ones. If this is an annual show, evaluate last year’s data and see how many leads converted to sales. Calculate your marketing ROI. Based on this evaluation and your calculations, set your new objectives for this year’s trade show program. If your company attends more than one trade show per year, you should use the data for each trade show, but also extrapolate the specific information that is different for each annual trade show.

5 Months Out

At 5 months out it is time to set your budget, lock down your booth space, and take a good look at your exhibit display. Adjusting your budget based on what worked before and what goals you have put in place will help ensure that you are in the right spot to bring in ROI and test out new marketing strategies in the marketing mix of what has worked before. This is also the time to evaluate what shows you will attend and make decisions on any changes or staying at the same trade show or shows. Once you decide on your trade shows, select your booth space. Remember, the top spots go quickly, so get this done as soon as possible. Evaluating your exhibit and display this early will give you time to make design changes.

4 Months Out

At 4 months out, start making plans and decisions on who will be working the booth. If the trade show is out of town and requires travel, that needs to be figured into the budget and the staff has to make travel arrangements with their own schedules, etc. As technology for trade shows is constantly changing, it is important to stay on top of the newest innovations. This will ensure that your booth is never outdated. If you decide on a new display or are upgrading elements of your exhibit, evaluate what 3 different exhibit builders have to say so that you can get the best design fit and the best pricing.

3 Months Out

Review the information from the trade show company and make sure that you have all of the forms turned in and ordered all the services you need including electrical, carpentry, and shipping.  Begin to create your promotions so that you can start to market to your customers or clients attending the show. Look for additional leads to invite to the show and have your booth staffers do the same.

2 Months Out

At 2 months out, finalize everything with the employees that will be working the booth. Make sure everything is all set and in place including travel arrangements, flights, car rentals, and hotels. Finalize all your show services, Choose your exhibit builder and create a deadline for them to have the exhibit completed. Order your promotional trade show giveaways, custom printed merchandise, and t-shirts or uniforms that the booth staff will be wearing.

1 Month Out

Mail our pre-show promotions to let your customers and clients that you are attending the show and invite them to come. Set up first booth employe training. Secure all show services. Finalize the promotional products you will be giving away at the show and get them ordered. Ship the exhibit if you need to house it at an advanced warehouse facility close to the trade show location.

2 Weeks Out

Hold your 2nd employee training session. Send out a 2nd wave of pre-show promotions. Ship all the supplies your employees will need at the booth.

1 Week Out

At 1 week out from the show, prepare your lead fulfillment packets, verify that your display has arrived at the trade show location, get your contact files prepared to bring to the show, and verify that your booth staff is all set for the trade show. Get everything ready at home since you will be gone for a few days.

At the Show

While at the show, reap the benefits from careful planning for the last 6 months. All that planning will allow you to focus on selling at the trade show and managing the daily activities at the show and your staff. Be brilliant, calm, hard-working, light hearted, and creative! Execute all the plans you have been working on.

After the Show

Once the show is over, the job is certainly not done. Be sure to follow up, fulfill your leads, check costs, measure and analyse and then report your results. Don’t forget to send thank you notes to vendors, trade show employees, and importantly the booth staff.