Trade Show Planning Templates: What Works for You

What is a Trade Show Planning Template?

Sounds straightforward enough, but different people have different preferences and needs. Are you planning your tradeshow program for a whole year, or are you planning for a specific trade show? Are you developing a business case, or getting ready for execution? What format works for you and your team? Any and all of these can change what you mean by a trade show planning template.

In our work with clients and industry colleagues, we see materials and tools being reinvented over and over… and over again. We see managers spending more time formatting their documents than planning or executing. Whether it’s for their own organization and sanity, or in the interest of collaborating or communicating with others, the documents often feel like a necessary evil. We saw an opportunity to help exhibitors stop worrying about “how” and just focus on why what and who by developing a toolkit that includes a playbook set of trade show planning templates.

Trade Show Planning Template Options and Elements

In our Tradeshow Playbook, we cover a lot of ground in terms of best practices to optimize efficiency, effectiveness, and ROI. Many of those recommendations rely upon a solid set of tools designed to help with the assessment and decision-making process, planning, execution and follow up. Here are the trade show planning templates that we believe can underpin a successful trade show program.

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Trade Show Planning Template: Assessment, Prioritization, Planning & Tracking

The scope and scale of investment in even a single trade show can be significant. That means you need to choose wisely and with specific goals for ROI. More often than not, sales and other professionals are interested in more trade shows than the budget and schedule will allow. Even with unlimited funds, the investment of time to execute is enough to make the assessment and prioritization process an essential starting point.

To help you with this strategic first step, our first trade show planning template is the Annual Trade Show List & Evaluation Spreadsheet. While not complex, it is comprehensive, with columns for many criteria that are likely to be useful to most organizations, for example, booth cost, location, industry focus, total attendees, past performance, and more. This serves the dual purpose of comparing actual and/or likely results across opportunities to allow for prioritization and selection at the beginning of the year, as well as to see the details of the overall program throughout the year.

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Trade Show Planning Template: Organizational Buy-In & Coordination

One of the biggest challenges we see is that of gaining internal buy-in and/or coordination. Marketing and sales professionals often need to make the case for the budget to support the program, and in some cases need to negotiate amongst themselves to narrow down the list of shows to fit into the allotted budget. Finally, once shows are selected, it can be challenging to keep all the details straight for internal collaboration and coordination.

The best practices we have seen support the above efforts by creating a simple overview of the intended or approved show initiative. We call ours a One-Page Trade Show Game Plan, a trade show planning template in a Word format. It puts all the vital information in one place where it is easier to digest than the other detailed planning documents you use for your actual execution plan.

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Trade Show Planning Template: Individual Show Planning & Execution

Finally, anyone who has managed a trade show knows there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. From communications to booth logistics to lead generation and follow up, there is an incredible amount of detail to keep track of. And as show size increases, so does the complexity of show management. To help you with your smaller or larger initiatives, we created two versions of the final primary trade show planning template.

  • A PowerPoint Template for Large Show Planning & Execution
  • A PowerPoint Template for Small/Regional Show Planning & Execution

These PowerPoint templates are ready for you to customize with your own branding and detailed information. They should allow you to save time in your own planning process, but also in training and communicating with your booth staff, executive teams, vendors, etc.

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How to Get Your Trade Show Planning Template

Just ask! We created these for you, and are happy to share. We’d also love to hear your feedback on how these documents work for you, if we missed anything, or how we can further support your trade show efforts.

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