The Ultimate Exhibition Checklist: How to Get The Best from a Trade Show

PPMA tradeshow picture 2023 with Scayl BLOG on Ultimate Show Checklist


 "Begin with the end in mind." Stephen Covey

The first step to any successful event is setting a goal. What do you want to achieve? This will shape how you plan your event and the interactions you have with your audience. 

Scayl Packing Machines Blog Picture: Ultimate Checklist

What's Your Goal

Defining clear goals is paramount for a successful outcome. Whether aiming to expand your customer base, unveiling innovative new product or raising brand awareness, establishing a concrete set of objectives provides a road map for strategic planning and execution.

  • Generate leads
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Market research
  • Education or inform customers of your product or service
  • Boost sales
  • Networking

How to Decide Which Show Fits Your Goals

The journey of selecting the right trade show or event demands a thoughtful approach aligned with your business goals. In this section, we'll break down practical steps to help you align your business goals with the most suitable show

Event Type
  •  It the show or event established? Does it carry weight in the industry, are people aware of it?
  • Is there any data available from the organisers to help you make selection easier? Many shows will have a sign up process which captures the details of attendees. This will give you an idea of the types of people who visit, are they decision makers, typically footfall etc. 
  • Event costs need to be considered and often exhibiting incurs various costs. Typically you will pay a cost for the space you're renting, based on £x per square foot. Some include extras but typically you'll pay the cost for the 'shell only'. Other cost could include; carpet or flooring, electricity outlets or lights.
  • Think about the logistics, where is the event being held? Getting equipment or staff to and from an event incurs additional costs. If staff need to stay overnight for an event then you will need to factor in accommodation and food costs.
  • If you're running a regional business offering services to a defined area, then the show you visit will need to sit inside this region otherwise it could have a potential impact on attendance. 
  • Choosing the right space to exhibit is key. Give some considerations around size (larger spaces are more expensive), potential footfall and location compared to competitors. We have found that spaces offering 2 sides (perhaps on a corner) offer us the best opportunity to capture customers as they pass-by. Ask the event organiser, they can offer help in choosing the right space
  • Another area to consider is publicity. How extensively is the show being marketed? Do you get any free exposure for exhibiting at the show, such as a company logo on a floor plan? Perhaps a social media post or featured in any publications? This exposure is usually an additional cost and if your goal is to increase brand awareness, then this might be a necessary cost.
  • BUDGET! Shows can be expensive but often lead to increase sales and brand exposure. Consider any pre-show packages which include discounts on spaces if purchased early. Perhaps you can negotiate a media package or furniture for your space, such as lights or electrical outlets. 

Pre-Show Planning

Navigating the pre-show phase is a cruital aspect of event success. From defining objectives to logistical considerations, let us help guide you through this important process so you can make a lasting impression. 

  • Once you have decided to exhibit at a show, make your customers aware! Put a banner or pop-up on your website
  • At Scayl we include a 'Find us at PPMA Stand D42' banner, as an example. Give customers the option to 'Book a Demo' as this helps qualify leads.
  • Email newsletters can also be effective way to communicate to your customer base and always follow this up with a social posts to reinforce. 
  • Show promotions are key to close sales over the period of a event. Depending on what you sell or service you offer, your promotion will vary. Perhaps a discount if purchased during the event. 
  • At Scayl, in the run up to shows, we have seen sales decline as customers wait for a 'show offer' Make sure you have a strong offer available for a customer to help them commit. 
  • At Scayl we pride ourselves on being transparent in our pricing, in our industry competitors typically do not display their prices. Instead a customer needs to 'Receive a Quotation' which adds another barrier which we have tried to remove. During an event, we ask customers for a small refundable deposit and this secures the 'Tradeshow Offer' 
  • You will be in direct competition against your competitors at a show so make it easy for a customer to buy. Have clear and transparent pricing, a strong offer, low buy-in to secure and flexible ways to pay (we use a portable card machine)
  • PROMOTE, PROMOTE and then PROMOTE some more! 

Show Set-Up

Setting up takes much longer than you anticipate so plan ahead to ensure a smooth set up. Here's some points which we consider during show set up


  • Make a list and check it twice! What do you need for your show to operate effectively; lights, extension cables, cable ties, tool kit, adhesive tape etc.
  • If you're taking products then add these onto a checklist too. Have you got all the accessories and power cables.
  • Test your equipment prior to setting it up at the event.
  • Wear something comfortable. Chances are you'll be building furniture or hiding cables behind things so wear clothing which gives you some comfort. 
  • Come equipped! You're likely to be setting up banners, promotional items POS and equipment. Buy a sack trolley to help you move this around easily as typically the walk from the car park to event can be long.
  • Once set up and prior to show doors opening, walk around the space and see if it flows. Is your POS clear and do customers have easy access to machines? Does it look welcoming?
  • Use this time to get your staff up to speed with the show offer and initiate some final training.

Scayl at PPMA Tradeshow in 2023

Scayl team at PPMA 2023 with Scayl Packing and Sealing machines

On the Day: Things to Consider

As the event day dawns, it's time to turn preparation into action. Let's explore the key factors you might need to consider during show day, from staff readiness to maintenance.

  • Is your stand on-brand? Does it align with your brand message and goals.
  • Is your stand accessible, open and welcoming.
  • Staffing is a major consideration and is often overlooked. At Scayl we try to ensure we have enough people on hand to talk to customers, during peak times, and redeploy them elsewhere when it's quiet. Too many staff on a stand can give the impression that it's unfriendly. When it's quiet, encourage staff to walk around the event and build relationships with competitors, interact with new technology or create social posts.
  • Is your message clear, can a customer understand what you're offering.
  • Check in with your neighbours. It's always beneficial to build relationships in the industry. Chances are you have forgotten something and your neighbour can help you with a loan.
  • PROMOTE: Use the quiet times to promote your stand and talk about your offering. We found it helpful to create a 'real time' interactive map, so customers entering the show can find you easily.
  • Be disciplined. Keep chat amongst staff and jokes to a minimum when on the stand. You want to create an open and friendly space where customers feel encouraged to walk around.
  • Uniform. At Scayl we're a unique and quirkly bunch, disrupting the market place which is a-wash with suits and ties. We're different and that's our brand. We wear trainers, jeans and a branded t-shirt. Identify your voice and roll with it. 
  • Leverage technology to capture leads. Business cards are outdated and can be lost and during busier times you will want a way to capture a customers details quickly. Using technology to capture this can help. 
  • Eventify have a great guide of the 'Best Trade Show Apps of 2024'

Post Show Debrief & Reflections 

One of the most important and often over looked parts of a show, is the post show debrief. Here's your opportunity, as a team, to discuss what worked well and what can be improved for next time. Here are a few points we keep in mind when structuring our post show reflections.

  • Discuss what worked well, any challenges and how could you make it better
  • Communication with customers post show is very important, in keeping leads warm. We use an email client which can structure a 'nuture' series of emails often starting with a 'Thanks for seeing us at the Show'. 
  • Review the effectiveness of any content, demos or media shared identifying high performing content for future use.
  • Engage on social media, thanking attendees and sharing highlights. 
  • Review the actual expenses against the budget allocation for the event, identifying areas where cost savings can be made.
  • Post-Event marketing. Leverage the momentum gained from the event for post-show marketing. Share event highlights, testimonials or product features.