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Trade Show Event Tips
If you are planning to hold an event concurrent with an upcoming trade show exhibit, you need to start by evaluating your company goals and objectives for what you want to achieve in your trade show display appearance. Once you have determined why you are exhibiting, then you will need to match your trade show display with your event in order to seamlessly reinforce the same message. Your trade show event must be fully integrated into your trade show booth’s marketing message.
This seems like common sense, but every so often trade show event planning goes haywire. A good example of a mismatched trade show event is holding an elegant black tie affair for your company’s computer engineers who live and work every day in sport shirts and jeans.
Karla Krause-Miller, Director, Cappa and Graham, Inc., a professional event planning company in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, offers some important tips for trade show event planning:
1. Decide what type of event you have based on your company’s marketing goals and sales objectives. Do you want to have a small, intimate gathering or do you want to have a free- for- all event where you’re not selective about screening your guests? If it’s the latter, you most likely will see your competition at your trade show event drinking your cocktails and eating your food.
2. Integrate your event well with your trade show display’s marketing message to have your happening support the branding of your trade show booth.
3. Know the profile of your trade show attendees and analyze their likes and dislikes before the trade show. Be sure to match the soiree to the comfort level of your group. For example, hot dogs and beer may be fine for a sports- related gathering but is not appropriate with a more formal affair.
4. Make your event inviting, exciting and enticing. Be aware that there are many competing parties going on at trade shows. You are competing with not only trade show management and other trade show exhibitors, but also the city where you are exhibiting in. If that happens to be Las Vegas, then you are up against drawing attendees away from casinos and high caliber entertainment shows at luxury hotels.
5. Be mindful of the time constraints of your guests. If you are arranging a cruise you may have to leave attendees at the dock if they do not have the time for several hours at sea. Better to hold your party at the dock so people can come and go as they please.
Also watch out for breakfast seminars that may be too early for a partying crowd. It is probably safer to have a cocktail reception, but check first with the trade show conference management to see if they have a scheduled an event that conflicts with your time and date.
6. Create buzz and fun into your gathering. Do something different that will stand out. Since people like to get involved, a good idea would be to have your guests dress like characters in old movies, show a Charlie Chaplin film and serve some popcorn. Or rent the local bowling center or skating rink.
7. You do not have to have a big budget to be successful. That’s a myth.
If you go bowling, you can give away bowling shirts with names that your attendees have selected in advance. Karla Krause-Miller says that at one such event she chose the name “Alley Cat” and wore it bowling and in a group photo of “her team”.
By thinking in terms of who your attendees are, and by planning something unusual and fun, you will be able to have a successful event -- whether it is close by at the McCormick Convention Center in Chicago, the Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the Santa Clara Convention Center or the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.
Remember, when your company exhibits at a trade show and wants to have an event as well, by following the above essential tips of trade show event planning, your preparation and thoughtful planning will pay off handsomely.
About the Author: Dick Wheeler is President of Professional Exhibits & Graphics, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California with showroom in Sacramento. Firm is full-service premiere trade show exhibit, graphics and management services company. http://www.proexhibits.com