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CREATE THE PLAN By Christine Christman

Make trade shows strategic events instead of one-off expenses.

© 2015 Christine Chirstman P. 2




Why Plan?


The Strategic Plan


Creating the customer-focused message


Strategic Plan Template


Select Shows that Deliver Your Target Audience


Operational Plan


Operational Plan Template

Š 2015 Christine Chirstman P. 3



brief overview: The Strategic and Operational Plans

How does your company view trade shows? Most handle them as isolated events. In that case the only planning required is strictly operational planning: which exhibit should you use, how will you get it to the show and get it set-up, etc. Companies with the hardest working trade show dollars view shows the second way, as an integral part of the total sales and marketing strategy. This requires a different type of planning altogether: strategic planning that applies marketing principles to trade show participation. For the second type of company, a basic strategic analysis provides the foundation to determine exactly how trade shows as a marketing communications medium can further the company’s goals and objectives. In this type of planning questions about corporate image objectives, product positioning and market penetration become steering elements that guide decisions about show participation. Creating a complete Trade Show Plan requires answering both types of questions: strategic and operational. Determining how trade shows will contribute to long range corporate objectives is accomplished in the Strategic Planning Process. The Strategic Plan then becomes the foundation that supports the Operational Plan. Making decisions about specific shows, setting goals for those shows, and measuring performance on a show by show basis is the Operational Planning Process. The Trade Show Plan is a document that puts all of the strategy behind show participation, and the resulting tactics for each show down on paper. It is frequently created in the trade show or marketing communications department, approved by upper management, and used as a tool to communicate with other divisions or departments within the company.

Š 2015 Christine Chirstman P. 3

WHY PLAN? INTRODUCTION TO STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR TRADE SHOW PARTICIPATION Simply put, the Strategic Plan defines the mission or purpose of trade show efforts as they contribute to long term corporate growth. Three purposes of strategic planning are: to identify target markets to reach through trade show marketing, create long range objectives for reaching those markets, and to define a communications message for those markets. Strategic planning by its very nature is long range and visionary. Ideally, the strategic plan is prepared for shows -- not just in the following year -- but 18 months down the road. It is reviewed and updated each quarter for shows18 months out. It becomes the road map for show participation planning. Eighteen months might seem impossible in our fast-paced, last minute business environment. If you can do it, here’s some advantages: 1 Space selection is typically held a year in advance of the show, and getting prior approval for show selection (which is an integral component of Strategic Planning) makes that selection more accurate, helps avoid late charges and unnecessary expenses. 2 Getting necessary input for show participation from other departments is an ongoing struggle. The earlier people begin thinking about it, the better. 3 Getting necessary management approval for show selection early helps to avoid last minute disagreements that can delay progress at critical points.

Š 2015 Christine Chirstman P. 4

HOW YOU’LL USE THE STRATEGIC PLAN This plan is your reference guide for all show participation decisions. If you are a corporate trade show department with separate divisional departments, the Strategic Plan points everyone in the same direction. It sets the corporate direction for trade show functions which are often implemented on a divisional level. If you plan all shows, it becomes a guiding beacon for setting specific show goals and creating the Operational Plans.

The Strategic Plan is your reference guide


for all remaiining decisions about show participation.

The idea for strategic planning is borrowed from the disciplines of executive management. But don’t worry about having to make decisions or set directions that are typically handled by the executive team. What you will be doing is identifying the direction and strategies that have been set, and then interpreting them for your shows. In their book “The Executive Guide to Strategic Planning,” Below, Morrisey, and Acomb list seven elements of the corporate strategic plan: 1 Organization mission 2 Strategic analysis 3 Strategy 4 Long term objectives 5 Integrated programs 6 Financial projections 7 Executive summary

The Strategic Plan provides background for all of your communication to stakeholders, managers and your support team. It answers the inevitable question: “why are we doing it this way?”

© 2015 Christine Chirstman P. 5

THE CORPORATE PLAN 1. Corporate strategic planning typically considers five and ten years into the future.

2. The goal for the corporate strategic plan is to set long range objectives and directions for the company.

3. Corporate strategic planning defines objectives for all functions of the company from R&D to human resources.

Š 2015 Christine Chirstman P. 6

THE TRADE SHOW PLAN 1. Trade Show strategic plans consider 12 to 18 months into the future, and depends on strategic communication from the executive team. 2. By contrast, the goal for your strategic plan is to interpret those objectives as they relate to the trade show environment. 3. Your Strategic Plan will focus primarily on sales and marketing related objectives.

THE STRATEGIC PLAN Are you taking full advantage of this strategic marketing opportunity? Creating the strategic plan is an exercise in getting to know your company and products. For example, do you know how different products within your company are perceived in their various markets? Do you know what market share they currently hold? Do you know the long range plans for the corporation? Answering these, along with other questions helps to clearly bring into view the role which trade shows play in the overall sales and marketing functions of the company.


This strategic plan is created following a simple four-step process. First you will take a step back to get an overview of the corporate direction by considering the nature of your business, corporate positioning, and corporate direction. Second, you will step in a bit closer to review the sales and marketing structure of your company and how it influences and directs the trade show function. Third, you will look specifically at how trade shows will work within and contribute to the corporate and sales and marketing objectives of the company, identifying target markets and related shows for participation.

1. Review company mission 2. Apply marketing principles 3. Create customer-focused message 4. Write the plan

© 2015 Christine Chirstman P. 7

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Create The Plan Sample  

First 8 pages of the ebook for review

Create The Plan Sample  

First 8 pages of the ebook for review