It’s Showtime: Tips to Prepare for Tradeshow Season | ODEA

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It’s Showtime: Tips to Prepare for Tradeshow Season

Tradeshows are back baby! It’s been a long year of working from home and nowhere to go. But lucky for us, it’s time to be a carnival worker again! ODEA is fortunate enough to have some seasoned tradeshow vets on our team and we thought we’d let you in on some tips and tricks of the trade(show). Check out what our gurus have to say and your tradeshow mojo will be back in no time!

Getting ready to rumble!

ODEA-ite Chelsi is a behind-the-scenes kind of gal when it comes to tradeshows. She’s all about the magic that happens before you even step on the show floor. Here is what she had to say to help quell the madness that is prepping for the show:

Use the checklist the show provides you before the show!! You’ll quickly remember that a tradeshow requires a lot of people, a lot of moving parts and every single show is different. Make it easier on yourself and utilize the handy checklist that includes deadlines the show provides you. You might learn something you didn’t realize needed to be on your ‘get it done’ list and it’s a great tool to keep you and the team organized leading up to the show.

Thankfully, we have our very own checklist in the form of ODEA-ite Andrea! Follow her advice and there’s nothing you won’t be prepared for when you arrive at the venue!

Where to start?!

  • Wear comfortable shoes–function over fashion, trust us on this.
  • Order the carpet pad, it’s worth the investment. (Your feet will thank you!)
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (which you really should be doing anyway)- buy a case or two of water for the booth.
  • If you don’t have your own, order the wastebasket. No one wants empty coffee cups and gum wrappers lying around- ew!
  • Make sure you have a plan in place to capture leads- find out if the show offers lead retrieval services.

Create a tradeshow “first-aid kit” with things you’ll definitely want if you don’t have them already. And if you do, kudos! Here’s what our experts recommend if you’re at a loss for your first-aid kit!

  • Tissues
  • Gum or mints
  • Band-Aids
  • Hand sanitizer (remember that COVID thing? Yeah.)
  • Pens/Sharpies
  • Tape (Scotch and packing)
  • Business cards
  • Tide stick (no one likes a stain from breakfast hanging out all day!)
  • Safety pins
  • Scissors
  • Post-it notes
  • Rubber bands

Okay, so you’re all packed up and ready to go. But wait…there’s more! Make sure you have all the return shipping labels for anything you need to ship on the way back. Also, make sure you understand any rules the venue may have. Some places will use labor unions and have strict rules about who can provide labor.

You’re also going to want to have a booth schedule, so you know who’s going to be in the booth and when. This will also ensure that everyone has a designated break from the bright lights of the venue floor. You can also add in time for each member of your team to walk the floor and soak in the magic of the tradeshow for themselves.

You made it!

So now you’re at the venue, there are some things you’re going to want to keep in mind while you’re there, but designer Susan has you covered!

  • Cleanliness is next to Godliness! Keep things organized and any additional stuff hidden!
  • Pay attention to the flow of the show, that way you can position your smaller banner to maximize visibility.
  • When it comes to attracting attendees, do you have any swag to entice them into stopping at your booth?
  • Make sure to have show services hired to vacuum your booth each night. Black carpet hides no secrets, and no one likes a dirty booth.
  • Depending on what your TV is playing, sound levels can be problematic. If there is a video that requires audio, remember to be a respectful booth neighbor and play it at an appropriate volume.
  • On the subject of TVs, do you have a still for when the video isn’t playing? It looks much sleeker if you don’t have your TV at a weird pause or turned off in between video runs.
  • Have a business card holder or brochure rack so folks can snag more info from a designated place at your booth, not just from a pile on a table. 

Seems like a lot to think about, right? We know it can feel a tad overwhelming but the more work you put in beforehand, the smoother and more enjoyable your experience will be at the venue.

You’re done! Oh, wait!

Our final tidbit of wisdom comes from Prez Patty herself! Here’s what our resident tradeshow-queen has to share:

Put as much planning into your post-show prep as you do your pre-show. One of my mentors always told the story of meeting with a sales manager two weeks after a big show who was pumped at how many leads they had received. He gleefully reached under his desk and pulled out a box of leads (back in the day when leads were in paper form). My mentor asked him how getting those into their CRM had gone and how many meetings they had set up. THE sales manager said they hadn’t done any of that—but look at how many leads!

Don’t be that guy! Know what leads sales will want to follow up with immediately versus which should be pulled into a nurture campaign for marketing to own. Have content and assets already created for those post-show campaigns. And make sure to enter all leads into your CRM or other tracking with the lead source of the show so you’ll be able to calculate ROI when considering that show for the next year.

Own the Floor!

As you navigate tradeshow season, remember our tried-and-true tips to make sure it’s your most successful season yet. You’ve prepped, you’re ready – now go own that tradeshow floor!

And if you consider yourself a tradeshow pro – share some of that wisdom with us at [email protected].