Welcome to March. This is a great time of year – one of my favorites. Everything is starting to come back to life after sleeping through the winter. I hear birds chirping and I see my flowers pushing up in my garden. I hope that wherever you’re reading this from, you’re starting to see signs of Spring and as nature is getting ready for new beginnings, you are too.

prioritize-print media centr

Since this is a time of new beginnings, it’s a great time to start planning for the fall trade show season – September will be here all too quickly. Don’t let yourself or your company get behind the eight ball only to find in August that you’re scrambling to get ready to participate in some of the print industries biggest events.

Have you already decided which trade shows/events will your company attend or exhibit at? If you’re exhibiting, have you selected and secured your booth space? Have you established your budget? Do you know what you’re exhibiting in your booth? Have you started working on your communications, marketing, and follow-up plans?

Just like nature runs the same course each year, so does trade show season.

I know planning for trade shows and events, and all the details that go along with them can be overwhelming. I was a trade show manager for more than 20 years and today. Today I manage social media, PR and promotional content for a market-leading company in the print industry.

Experience has taught me a lot about planning, executing and delivering a trade show from start-to-finish. I’m excited to share what I have learned with you and hope that you will share this information forward with your own community.

Let’s wind the clock back to last fall when you were at PRINT 17 (for example) and you selected your booth space for next year’s show. Likely you signed the contract without a second thought to what you would display or demonstrate in your booth. Now that it’s March it’s time to get ahead of the game and get prepared to have your most incredible experience at PRINT 18 yet.

So where do you begin?

First things first, put together your company’s wish list of products or demonstrations you’d like to include in your booth. Do you have your list? If you do, now you need to prioritize.

You need to decide what the elements are that are “absolutely necessary”. If they’re not in your booth at the show, then there’s no point in going. What are the things on your list that are “nice to have”? If you don’t have budget or space to accommodate, would your exhibit be successful without them?

Consider making your list in a grid so that you can jot down things like; how much space each thing require? Does it need electrical, and if it does, what are the requirements? How about internet? Plumbing? Make sure you know well in advance what you need to make the things in your booth work properly.

The grid then becomes your ‘cheat sheet’ that can be referenced throughout the planning process to make sure you have what you need. Here’s an example of what one could look like.

Item Dimensions Electrical Internet Plumbing
XYZ Machine 30”x50” 110v Yes – minimum speed? No

Now that you have your grid complete, check-off the first part of your ‘to do’ list. Next, you’re going to want to dive into the Exhibitor Kit.

The Exhibitor Kit is the exhibitor’s bible. It is your guide to everything show-related. Instructions and guidelines for everything from shipping to catering are included in these pages.

In the next installment of this series, I’ll walk you through the key elements of the Exhibitor Kit and we’ll focus on some of the tricks of the trade!

In the meantime, get working on your priority list so that you’re ready to start working on your budget and exhibit orders.

Sarah Markfield’s first job out of college was working for a firm in England that didn’t know what to do with the “Yank” that turned up on their doorstep. She was quickly assigned to manage an event in Geneva, Switzerland because she could speak French. Trade shows and events have taken Sarah all over the US and Europe. Today she manages customer communications and social media for a large print technology manufacturer and continues to work on trade show messaging, brand compliance and external communications including PR and social media.

Connect wth Sarah on LinkedIn

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