Best Practices

Exhibitor checklist: six vital booth-planning steps

Finding success at a trade show requires more than simply installing a booth and demonstrating products or services. Before you pack your crates and monogram the swag, take a step back and start asking questions. What kind of experience do you want to deliver? How can you make the impact successful?

As marketers with endless to-do lists, it’s easy to get mired in tactics. But to build a strategic plan, you need to understand the who, what, when, where, why before tackling the how.

To get your plan in motion, check off these fundamental phases and you’ll be on your way to exhibit success.

Mission merging

You set event goals, but what about your organization’s goals — do the two intersect? Aligning missions from the top down keeps you focused and ensures a more successful program.

  • Outline key organizational goals.
  • Align event objectives to deliver on key business goals.
  • Cross-reference your event calendar to ensure each show contributes value.

Audience appreciation

Profiling your audiences and their preferences makes you a better marketer. Knowledge is power may sound cliché, but it’s true. Understanding audience needs helps you create an exhibit that delivers relevant solutions. Personal attention turns visitors into customers.

  • Identify core audiences and subgroups.
  • Create audience personas to highlight their interests, needs, and pain points.
  • Design personalized activations and demos catered to target audiences.

Space matters

Every aspect of your booth plan matters — including the team you assemble to welcome visitors. Choose people who embody your brand and represent key functions (depending on your goals) such as sales, customer service, and marketing.

Next, check off the nuts and bolts. By determining the exhibit property (custom or rental), floor plan, graphics, and specific in-booth accessories, you’ll be primed to exceed audience expectations and call each show a win.

  • Choose rental or custom exhibit elements.
  • Determine booth essentials (e.g. size, demos, special requests).
  • Assemble and train a diverse booth squad.

Memorable moments

Look for ways to make the visitor experience informative and compelling beyond a hard sales pitch. Mine your audience feedback results to create personalized approaches. Incorporating cool tech such as virtual reality or interactive kiosks can help promote products and services and creates interactions attendees remember.

Want to take your presence up a notch? Consider a sponsorship. Incorporating your message outside the booth extends its reach and provides additional touchpoints for audience connections.

  • Map out the visitor journey and align demos with target needs.
  • Choose event technology enhancements.
  • Research relevant sponsorship opportunities.


Now that you’ve selected the right show, built the perfect space, and filled it with informative, personal activations, you need to shout it from the meeting rooftops! Think about your key message — what will entice visitors to find you? Do you have a clear call to action?

Reach out before the event, then keep the momentum going during and after the show so your message stays fresh.

  • Strategize your messaging and call to action.
  • Select applicable marketing channels aligned to your audience.
  • Develop a communications action plan to deploy before, during, and after the show.

Post-show reflection

Exhibiting is an investment, so make the most of the time and money spent by cataloguing what worked and what didn’t. Gather data in and outside your organization. And don’t forget ROI! Track leads, follow up, and calculate impressions for a full scope of value delivered.

  • Select lead retrieval and tracking methods.
  • Design a post-show survey to capture feedback.
  • Work with the show organizer to identify event impressions.

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