If you’re a professional planning on attending your first craft or trade shows to advance your career, it’s important to plan ahead – it isn’t enough to just show up and network. But what are you supposed to bring? From the obvious items, like business cards and sample products to garbage bags and water bottles, it takes a village to organize a trade show booth – or at least a well-ordered list.
Pack The Big Stuff
One of the worst things about attending craft and trade shows is that you’re rarely provided with basic infrastructure, which means, depending on the distance, you’ll need to bring your own tables, chairs, tents, and other large items, or rent them at great expense. With that in mind, then, start by identifying the large items you need and how you plan to transport them, both from home and once you’re on location. If you plan to sell at the event, in addition to tables and banners, you’ll likely need shelves, baskets, and other display materials. Ideally, you want to invest in compact items that are easy for you to move independently because event drayage rates can eat through your budget.
Put Your Brand In Bold
The next items you should consider when packing for a trade or craft show are key branded goods, such as banners, promotional items, and – most importantly for outdoor events – your tent. Design a tent featuring your company’s logo to meet your size needs; you’ll get plenty of use for it at different festivals and sponsored events, so make sure it’s designed to last.
Additional signage can also help your booth stand out in a crowded venue, and is especially valuable in helping customers and clients find you; venue maps are rarely much help. Just be sure to contact the event staff before you go to find out what types of signage you’re allowed to bring. You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with planners by pulling out forbidden items, no matter how mundane it seems.
Show Your Skill
Now that you’ve got your display space in order, it’s time to make sure you have the right materials to promote your business. At craft fairs, this is easy – you just bring your merchandise along, perhaps an additional portfolio. If you’re attending a corporate trade show, though, you’ll need more comprehensive materials, such as a durable, branded lookbook designed to demonstrate past work, tablets with interactive models, and sample pieces and parts that visitors to your booth can form a material connection with your work.
Sweat The Small Stuff
Perhaps the most tiresome part of preparing for a trade show or craft market is all of the little items you need to bring to keep your space in order. For example, you’ll need garbage bags, extra pens, tape, supplies for processing payments, and extra business cards, water, and snacks. In fact, in many ways it takes as much preparation for attend a trade show or fair as to go camping. But it’s better to be overprepared, especially if the event is far from your home base. You can’t just run and grab a few extra items from the storage closet.
Trade shows are powerful marketing opportunities, but you need to come prepared. Over time, you’ll develop a routine when packing for shows. Just give it time, and you’ll figure out exactly what you need. Until then, bring everything – and more.