Brandscape

Our rough guide to planning a successful exhibition

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Showcasing your product at an exhibition can be expensive, and part of a show’s success for your brand can be in the planning stages. Although not the most glamorous part of doing an exhibition, planning can help provide focus and ultimately deliver results.

We’ve created a guide designed to assist any size of organisation, from any business sector, to plan and execute a successful exhibition. However, one of the critical things to remember is that every show is different: a different venue, a different organiser, etc. Most organisers are friendly and helpful. All produce an Exhibitors Guide; take the time to read this. Also, once you have booked the space, they will usually prompt you for crucial information, but don’t assume anything! Check and double-check!

This guide assumes that you will have a 12-month lead-in. But if that isn’t the case, adjust the timescales to suit your needs.

12 Months to Go
– Be sure you know why you are participating – set aims
– Prepare a budget. Record everything on a spreadsheet
– Start an Exhibition “bible” folder. All critical information should be to hand
– Read the contract carefully: Understand terms and conditions, payment schedule, and how space is assigned
– Select location: Consult floor plans, traffic patterns, services, and audience makeup. If you can, look at who your neighbours are. Sometimes other exhibitors can attract visitors that suit your brand’s offering.
– If necessary, visit the venue; it sometimes helps
– Apply, and usually make the first payment. Smaller shows may require all monies upfront
Six Months to Go
– Set objectives for the show
– Consider what departments are to participate. Liaise and inform and understand their needs
– Plan show advertising. There are always free/included opportunities but be mindful of your budget when paying for additional advertising. Remember your website. Social media is plentiful and free
– Research and choose primary suppliers for:
Your stand design and build
Pop-up banners
IT and AV
Printed materials
Transportation and logistics
Installation and dismantling
– Decide if a new stand is needed. If so, begin the design process
– Consider flamboyant décor to stand out from your competitors
Four Months to Go
– Select staff for show and support staff back at base
– Determine travel arrangements and make hotel reservations
– Begin to think about those little things that make an exhibition work: pens, paper, sellotape, a stapler, mints, cleaning materials, power strips – start making lists
– Choose display products and reserve them. These might include:
Literature stands
Furniture
– Plan enquiry-processing procedures. Consider data capture, main & and alternatives, security & backup – those leads are valuable and, in most cases, are why you are there!
– Develop a floor plan for the stand
– Communicate with primary suppliers regarding services needed and dates
– If you are going for a theme or set, make sure the designer understands your product display requirements and any constraints like height clearance
– Get an estimate on costs. (Remember to keep your budget spreadsheet updated)
– Finalise new stand design. Coordinate theme with show-related advertising design (including website)
– Consider promotional gifts (avoid balloons, organisers will charge to remove any stray ones from roof space, and this can be very costly)
– Carry out show-related advertising
Three Months to Go
– Carefully review the exhibitor manual and the terms and conditions in the contract.
 Note target dates and restrictions. Review the stand floor plan and communicate any changes to the stand/exhibition designer
– Reserve additional meeting rooms (hospitality events, press conferences, an after-show party, etc.)
– Plan any stand presentations/demonstrations/client meetings
– Create a list of required services, noting deadlines for early buy discounts
– Distribute show plans to staff
– Select catering menu (for hospitality events, press events, after-show parties etc.
– Meet deadlines for free publicity in the exhibitor guide/preview
– Submit an authorisation form if you’re using exhibitor-appointed contractors
– Plan pre-show meeting
Two Months to Go
– Preview your stand design. Request any modifications – keep them to a minimum and try not to have any significant rethinks as this will create unnecessary stress for all
– Consider having literature designed and coordinated to the theme of the stand
– Complete graphics art/copy. Order product literature
– Order staff badges
– Update and liaise with other departments sharing the stand
– Finalise enquiry-processing procedures
– Create and order lead forms
– Prepare orders for shipping/storage, electrics, an after-show party, promotional gifts, flowers, etc.
– Follow up on all promotions, ensuring everything is ready to ship by the target date
– Prepare packs for the pressroom and stand
– Check with staff on hotel reservations and travel arrangements
– Develop briefing pack or stand staff handbook
– Schedule training for staff at show and back-office support staff
– Appoint a Stand Manager; this person is essential as a single point of contact for all those working on the stand. They will ensure that everyone knows what they are doing and when they should be doing it. They are vital in keeping everyone focused during the show
One Month to Go
– Arrange a stand staff meeting. Set objectives. Circulate and discuss the Stand staff handbook
Before Departure
– Make sure you’ve got the following before leaving for the show:
Credit cards
Copies of all orders and receipts for services paid in advance
Phone numbers and addresses of all suppliers
Shipping manifest, return shipping labels
Fire certificate, PAT testing certificate and health and safety forms, if needed and other formal documentation for exhibition
Mobile phone chargers
Digital camera and spare memory stick(s) if you still use them!
An “Essentials” box
Upon Arrival
– Confirm freight has arrived and that all contractors are on schedule
– Check hotel reservations for staff and confirm meeting room bookings and catering orders
– Get to know the venue and find the service areas. Meet the electrician and confirm the date and time for the electrical installation. Confirm telecoms arrangements – phone/internet connection points
– Supervise stand set-up
– Take photos of the completed exhibit
– The day before the show, hold a pre-show briefing and final training for staff. Be incredibly positive in all aspects of staff communications. You’ll set the mood of the team for the whole show
– Take more photos!
During Show
– Observe competitors and see what works for them. Conduct “mystery shopping” if you can
– Give staff time to visit the other exhibitors and take breaks
– Provide bottled water for stand staff
– Have a daily stand briefing with staff and unwind sessions at the end of each day
– Check after-show party arrangements
– Take lots of photos
– Reserve next year’s space
– Plan for booth dismantling and shipping
– Ensure lead forms are shipped back to the office daily for processing following your defined enquiry process. If this isn’t possible, allocate a person/place where all lead forms sit. If they are misplaced (binned), the show could be a financial right-off!
End of Show
– Supervise stand/booth dismantling. Refer to the shipping manifest, and tick list used to pack for the show to ensure everything goes back
– Debrief staff
– Attend the after-show party!
After Show
– Handle leads
– Create an ROI document as soon as possible after the show. Doing this will help you establish whether the show was successful. Ask yourself a question such as:
What was footfall like?
How many leads were captured?
Which competitors were there?
Did you meet your objectives?
What worked, and what didn’t?
What would you do differently next time?

Wow Me has vast experience in delivering successful showcases for our clients. We can work with your internal teams or external contractors to help deliver impact and the right results. Organising an exhibition can appear overwhelming, but if done correctly can be beneficial for your brand and hugely satisfying for those involved.

We would love you to get in touch to discuss your requirements at hello@wowmedesign.com

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