4imprint, LLC

| Updated: February 04, 2021

When it comes to exhibiting at trade shows, staying on-budget is usually participants’ primary concern. And with good reason—on average, exhibitors spend more than $4,000 for their trade show booth, lodging and transportation. Make sure your time and money is well spent by having a trade show marketing plan in place.

Any successful plan starts with a timeline. Best practice says to begin working on your timeline a year in advance to ensure ample prep time. For a helpful timeline that includes some of the best giveaways for trade shows, keep reading.

A successful trade show timeline

One year prior

First thing’s first. It’s time to book your show—and the sooner the better. Booking in advance ensures the best possible booth location and allows you to take advantage of early-bird discounts. It’s also a great time to start talking strategy. What are your goals? Brand awareness? Increased sales? Lead generation? Determining objectives early will help you strategize and budget.

Six to nine months out

Begin your marketing plan six to nine months before the show. How will you reach out to attendees? What will your key sales messages be? And how will you communicate those messages when designing your booth, graphics and mailers?

Three to six months before the show

Start thinking about ordering your trade show swag. The best giveaways for trade shows not only communicate key messages, they also provide value to the end user. In fact, 85 percent (PDF) of people will keep a promotional product if it is functional or useful. The Contigo® Kangaroo bottle, complete with a small storage compartment, is both functional and useful. Plan on gifting this or another handy promotional item, such as a power bank keychain or tech charging kit, to your best prospects or customers.

It’s also time to consider your pre-show mailings and social media outreach. Let prospects know when and where you’ll be at the show and what they can expect to see. Send VIPs a cool trade show giveaway to spark interest, like a set of folding virtual reality viewers imprinted with a link to a virtual product preview.

Three months and counting

Make sure your staffing needs are met. Begin finalizing technology needs, vendor specifics and travel arrangements. Your pre-show marketing details should be ready to launch now, too.

Two to four weeks before

Schedule meetings or dinners with clients and prospects. A post-invite mailer with some trade show swag can help limit no-shows. Consider a phone stand ring imprinted with the message “Hope you’ll stick around,” accompanied by a handwritten note reminding them of your meeting.

Any staff training should be completed now, too. Provide staffers with the branded apparel they’re expected to wear the day of the show. A moisture-wicking polo helps keep employees looking their best. It also doubles as a cool trade show giveaway for contests or games.

You’re almost there. When the day of the show arrives, you and your staff will be at your best, thanks to all your careful planning. Take a deep breath, smile, and leave a lasting impression by handing out the best giveaways for trade show attendees. Now, go make some sales!