So you’ve decided to exhibit at an upcoming trade show — now what?

Every successful exhibition starts long before you step foot into the convention center. In fact, the two most significant drivers of success behind any show-stopping booth are weeks of planning and setting crystal clear goals.

If you’re preparing for an upcoming trade show, here are five questions to ask yourself before making any big moves:


Question #1: What is the goal of your trade show booth or product line?

Trade shows are a great way to get your product in front of people, but sales aren’t always the only goal. If you’re a newer company or in a fast-paced market, trade shows are also a good place to research your competition, build brand visibility, and listen to customer feedback in real time.

Take some time upfront to understand exactly what a “successful” trade show looks like for you and your team so those goals are the focus during the planning and execution stages.


Question #2: How much money are you willing to spend on this project and how long will you be spending it?

Although you should plan to spend around a third of your budget on your trade show space, there will be other expenses, such as your booth build or rental, ordering enough product, and even payroll costs to support your on-site staff.

Another thing to keep in mind?

Your costs won’t all be upfront. After your budget is set, plan to spend your budget over the course of two to three months before your event.


Question #3: Who else is involved in this project?

It often “takes a village” to create a successful exhibit, which means you’ll have other people involved in moving things along.

For instance, most exhibitors need help from:

  • A company to manufacture the products that will be on display and extra inventory

  • A graphic designer to design your booth graphics and marketing pieces

  • An exhibit house to design and build the booth

  • Staff to run the booth

Having an idea of who is involved from the very beginning gives you (and them) ample time to plan. Keep in mind that each of these vendors will likely have different lead time requirements, so it’s best to give yourself more time than you think you need to shop around.


Question #4: Where do I find potential partners for my next trade show event — online or offline?

After you’re clear on what you’ll need, start looking for a trade show partner who can help you create your booth (the fun part!). In general, look for a partner who is responsive, can align with your budget and deadlines, and has a great track record of achieving projects similar to yours. 

On the flip side, don’t take a chance on exhibit houses that don’t offer full service or have changed ownership too many times.


Question #5: After I find a partner, how do I decide which exhibitor services work best for me based on budget constraints and timeline requirements?

Ideally, the partner you choose should help you identify the best services for your project based on your budget and deadline.

To give you an idea, the team here at Exhibit Options recommends six weeks of lead time for a regular booth build or rental needs, while a custom build needs eight weeks. You and your exhibit partner, however, should explore the options together so you can have a better grasp on which services are most aligned with your needs.

If you have a show coming up, please give the experts at Exhibit Options a call. We’d love to help.