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Before the Event: Ideas and Checklists

Trade shows, conferences and seminars provide excellent opportunities to learn about new industry innovations, connect with other professionals and market your products and services. If your company is going to attend an event, it's a good idea to know what you're getting into, what your expectations are and how you will achieve those expectations before you go. Here's your guide to event ideas and checklists you should have in place before the event:

Know the event

It's important to understand what the event is, who attends the event, what the format is and how you can benefit from attending. All events cost money, whether they charge fees or not: You have to take time away from work to attend. Are you seeking new productivity innovations you can incorporate into your business? Make sure there will be vendors specializing in this area. If you're going to be a vendor, you likewise have to make sure there is an audience for your products and services.

Define your goals

What do you stand to gain from attending the event? Will you be a vendor or buyer at a trade show? Are you seeking leads through new connections? Once you know what you hope to accomplish, you must establish an action plan.

Establish an action plan

Who will you send to attend the event? How many leads should they get? How will you market? You must have an answer for all of these questions before you go. You might want to set up a vendor booth with product demonstrations, or perhaps you simply plan to mingle in the crowd. Either way, you'll need materials to attract attention and leave-behinds to help new leads remember you.

Make sure you've printed all signage, brochures, business cards, white papers, flyers and other materials well in advance. Online printing companies such as PsPrint offer fast turnaround if you're in a pinch. Many companies pre-market before events. Ask the event coordinator for a list of the upcoming event attendees, and launch a postcard campaign to market to them a week before the event. Tell them you look forward to seeing them at the event, and where they can find you or how they'll notice you. Invite attendees to ask you questions without hesitation. You can even schedule private showings ahead of time, or call ahead and personally request 15 minutes at the event.

Put all your ducks in a row

Don't forget to make travel arrangements such as hotel reservations, flights, rental cars and other necessities well in advance. Many events are held in or near hotels, so the sooner you make your reservations the closer you're likely to get to the event. You'll also have to make sure your business continues to operate while you're away, so if you need to make scheduling changes or other adjustments do them right away to allow employees and others ample time to arrange their schedules. The key to event success is planning. The more highly defined your strategy is, the higher your return on investment will be. Follow the guidelines above to ensure that you're a hit at the next big event.