Preparing for an exhibition or tradeshow is stressful. And, if it's the first time you're doing it, it's even more stressful. So many elements need to come together at the same time, that sometimes I'm amazed how it happens, resulting in a perfectly formed, well-run stand or booth.
The secret is, of course, planning.
And the secret to good planning is great preparation. Without that, you risk not leaving yourself enough time to think about all the individual elements properly—which is how you make sure they all work together on the day. Without that, you could be relying on a wing and a prayer.
Merely hoping your exhibition goes well despite frantic last-minute preparations is much different from expecting things to run smoothly because you've planned everything down to the last detail. Not to mention, it's much more stressful. Some people thrive on that kind of stress, but I've always preferred the more structured approach, trying to leave as little to chance as possible.
So, here is my "Quick, Easy-to-Remember Exhibition-Planning Checklist."
Budget isn't merely about booking a place at an exhibition. Before you start, work out how much you want to spend or what you can afford. That calculation should be based not only on what sales and marketing budget you have available but also on a measurable return on investment (ROI) to ensure you aren't likely to have a loss on the exhibition. If you ignore those considerations, leaving planning to the last minute, it's highly probable you'll go over budget.