As a marketing manager in the event planning industry, your success hinges on the quality of your exhibit materials and how well you have planned for the event. In an ideal world, you will have at least several months to plan for an industry exhibition. However, unexpected opportunities sometimes arise, and it is up to you to create an amazing exhibit in lightning-fast turnaround time. When you find yourself facing a critical exhibit with little time to plan, you need to act swiftly and methodically. With this 8-step guide to last-minute exhibiting, you will knock your tasks out of the park! Your boss and everyone who views your exhibit will think you have been planning for months!
1) Survey your exhibit space
Exhibit space is pricey and costs are increasing every year. With prices ranging from under $1,000 for a small inline booth to over $27,000 AUD for a 6 x 6 metre island booth at an international event, you want to make sure you properly utilise every square inch of your allotted area. So before you swing into action and map out a strategy, make sure you know exactly what you have to work with in terms of exhibit space.
- Find your company's location: If your exhibit location is less than ideal, you may be able to take advantage of a cancellation and relocate.
- Note the size of your exhibit space: You do not want to bring bulky furniture and a 12-foot tall display in a 10 x 10 foot space.
- Stake out key competitors: It is always a good idea to know where your competitors are located with respect to your space.
- Note any spatial restrictions: Some exhibitions have height restrictions on the size of the display you can erect.
- Look for major exhibitors: You may also be able to strategically choose a location to take advantage of the traffic flow of a major exhibitor.
2) Determine your budget
Now that you know what type of space you have to work within, it is time to review your budget and figure out how much you can afford to spend on your display and other key expenses. Here are some key items some people neglect to consider when planning a last-minute exhibit:
- Rush fees to prepare your display: Some providers will charge a rush fee of 10% to 50% more for a lightning fast turnaround time.
- Expedited shipping costs: Remember that these costs can be even higher if your event is taking place overseas.
- Marketing and advertising: If you plan to use paid advertising or print any promotional materials, you need to set aside some budget for this.
- Labour costs: If you need help setting up your display, you will need to reserve some budget to pay for labour on setup and breakdown days.
3) Establish your marketing strategy
Even if your event is only days away, you need to develop a marketing strategy to promote your brand. You can kick off your event participation with an announcement on social media followed by an e-mail campaign. You will also need to determine whether you would like to bring any printed brochures or catalogues with you and whether you wish to invest in any paid advertising prior to the exhibition.
4) Select a top-notch graphics expert
Your ability to flourish at your event hinges in great part on the quality of your exhibit display. Today's displays are more breathtaking, creative, and captivating than ever. By selecting an award-winning graphics specialist who is an expert in the graphics and printing arenas, you can gain an edge over your competitors. Here are a few qualities to seek in a graphics provider:
- Industry experience: Ideally, the partner you choose will have at least two decades of experience in the exhibition design industry.
- Sensitivity to deadlines: Choosing a graphics expert that can operate under tight deadlines is essential to your success.
- Innovative: Seeking a creative graphics provider with cutting-edge design expertise will help you blow away your boss and attract more prospects.
- Affordable: Just because you are up against a tight deadline does not give a graphics company an excuse to grossly overcharge you.
- An eco-friendly approach: Select a company that uses recyclable materials to produce an eco-friendly display is ideal.
5) Gather your freebies and promotional materials
Exhibit attendees love giveaways. Even if you are planning at the last minute, you still might be able to order some eye-catching promotional items. A good starting point would be to check with your graphics provider to see if they would be able to prepare some personalised items for you that match your new display.
6) Securely pack and protect your exhibit materials
Even the smoothest carriers in the world endure poor road and weather conditions that can wreak havoc on a poorly packaged shipment. Failure to ensure that your trade show displays or conference materials are securely packed in a sturdy container can result in damage to your materials. Good options include hard shell containers that feature wheels and a retractable handle for easy transport and loading.
7) Choose your shipping carrier wisely
Now that you have organised your exhibit and trade show materials, it is time to enlist the support of a dependable shipping carrier to handle the delivery of your materials. Your exhibition partner will be able to recommend an experienced carrier who can help ensure that your materials arrive safe and intact.
8) Carry spare business cards and some supplies with you
If delivery of your display and other event materials is delayed by weather conditions or an emergency, you will want to make sure that you have a small stock of key items on hand in your personal luggage. Items to pack include the following:
• Spare business cards
• Extra catalogues
• A copy of the trade show or conference guide
• Pens and notepads
• Keep a digital copy of your brochure files on a USB key as a backup
The Bottom Line
There is no substitute for advance planning when preparing for your next conference or trade show. However, irresistible last-minute opportunities may sometimes arise, requiring you to produce a breathtaking display with little turnaround time.
For more tips to ensure a successful show, please contact us. We look forward to helping you design a stellar exhibit - even if you call us at the last minute!