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Creating Your Own Exhibit Planning Handbook

Written by Amy Chan


Posted on December 03 2014

When you are about to hit the trade show, you may think all of your pre-show planning will set you up for an incredibly successful trade show experience.  That is partly true: without proper planning you will miss many an opportunity.  That said, of equal importance is the Exhibit Planning Handbook you should create for yourself.  This will be helpful not only to help manage the planning process itself, but also to refer to during the trade show, to make notes on, and to remember your line of thinking when you’re in the trenches.

Your Handbook is literally going to be a three-ring binder that you can bring with you easily and that is set up to consider all the facets of your trade show life.  The sections you should at least start with are: planning, exhibit, show services, promotion, shipping, on duty, lead fulfillment, and miscellaneous

The planning tab needs to have all of your time line work, information on your pre-show budget planning, notes and minutes (and summaries) from your planning meetings with show objectives, and any other information you determined in the planning process.  Hopefully there will be loads of information in this tab.  If not, you probably have more work to do!

For exhibit, you should have a lay out of the floor plan for the booth itself.  And information about the graphics and layout of the booth, plus any audio visual needs and coordination with the show organizers needs to be in here.  Information that anyone could use to help fix or set up the booth without having prior knowledge will be useful in this section.  Put pictures, drawings of concepts, or anything like that in this tab.

Show services is a section to help keep tabs on all the extra things that are needed at a trade show, like labor orders for electricity, rentals, telephone, cleaning and anything else that you need to hire an external work force to handle.  Most likely, some of these services have receipts, either for rentals, or deposits put on services.  Bring with you copies of checks and printouts of receipts and keep them in this tab. 

The promotion tab will keep track of all the materials and orders for local advertising, direct mail pieces, mailing lists, schedule for ads, and anything else used in the marketing and promotion arena.  You most likely sent out some word to the attendees to get your name in their minds, so don’t be at a loss when someone refers to something the received by your company, particularly if you didn’t send it. 

There are many things that need to be shipped ahead of time, so keep in the shipping tab copies of PROs and tracking numbers for all materials your company sent to the trade show location.  In there you’ll want an easy-to-access list of telephone numbers of the carriers with the date of shipment and expected date of delivery.  It’s amazing what can get lost and even more amazing how easily it can be found if you can provide the right information to a person over the phone.

On Duty refers to your personnel who will actually be at the trade show.  Here you’ll have contact info for everyone who will be there, and also include a copy of the materials you will provide each staff member.

Lead fulfillment can keep track of leads and what the status of each of them is.