William Toll - Marketing Pro in Boston and Berlin

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Event Marketing – The Ultimate Toolkit Checklist for Trade Show Booths

Preparing for a trade show or expo booth is complicated enough – with coordination between event organizers, creative teams and shipping companies – one thing you don’t want to forget about is the team.  With executives, sales teams and partners all expecting a flawless booth and engaged personnel – how can you, as the marketing leader or event coordinator be best prepared?

No doubt – preparing for an event is one of the most traditional “project management” intensive activities that the marketing team is asked to do – it ranks up there with a new website rollout or a rebranding effort.  And – for many companies it happens multiple times per year. In some cases there can be two or  shows running at one time.  One secret I learned from Tani Currin of NaviSite was to be prepared for anything.  A fully stocked tool kit can make your presence more successful and your team more relaxed.

How many times have you been at a trade show – only to discover you did not have enough power strips (to keep employee devices charged) or post-it-notes to attach notes to business cards.  Even worse, when you are in a strange city running out to find supplies can be costly, time consuming and stressful.

I recently helped Yottaa sponsor and exhibit at the Web 2.0 Expo in NYC. #W2E  It was our first big trade show. I thought I would take a photo of the kit I put together and share it’s contents with you.

Event Marketing Toolkit

  • Lightweight box with wheels.  I bought one at OfficeMax that collapses, has a lid, an extendable handle.  It’s meant to store legal files but it’s just the right size and color to have in a booth.  Plus – it can serve as a little table and/or hide things in.Event Marketing Supplies - A checklist for your trade show kit.
  • Power strips – Bring two – you can always string them together to increase the length.  The ones that allow the larger wall plugs to be spread apart are even better.  Make sure they have a surge suppressor – the power at these events is uneven and can easily zap all of your equipment. Be sure to check the length, I have seen these as shorts as 3′ to as long as 12′.
  • Tools: Scissors, screwdrivers, pliers – I bought a small 20-piece kit that has it’s own storage container.  These tools are great if you need to adjust something and the facilities people are not around (or not looking).
  • Network Switch – 4 or more ports.  These are great for adding extra ports in the booth for employees, demo machines and more.  The wireless connections at events are notoriously bad – so anything you can do to ensure a good solid connection for your machines is a good thing.  You can also buy a wireless router – and use it as a switch or to provide wireless access – but setting it up and maintaining a good connection can be a challenge for the employees in your booth.
  • Ethernet cables – colored ones.  These can help prevent people from tripping on them or finding them. Get both longer and shorter ones to keep cable clutter down.  Be careful when you buy them – don’t buy a “crossover cable”(usually yellow)
  • Miscellaneous cables – (Update) Courtney Engle reminded me that I always pack some extra cables – VGA adapters for Mac’s, an extra long VGA adapter (in case you need to move the laptop to monitor, USB extenders – in case the keyboard and mouse are higher on the table/kiosk than you planned, an extra MACBook Air ethernet adapter, and an extra USB and iPhone charger – booth staff always seem to forget theirs.
  • Black Velcro Strips for wire management.  You want your booth and wires to look neat.  There is nothing worse than seeing a tangle of wires coming out or a laptop or monitor.
  • Keyboards and Mice.  Laptops are great for demos and or driving a display – but you want t make sure your booth visitors are able to see the screen (30″ monitor or laptop) easily and attaching keyboards and wired mice make it easier.
  • PPT Screensaver and Screenshots- You never know if you will have Internet access. Before you leave create a PPT with product benefits, screenshots and company overview can help tell the story.
  • Hand Sanitizer – Some of your employees will appreciate it.
  • Advil & Tylenol – Long days with lots of demos in bad lighting can give anyone a headache.
  • Mints– Help your team feel confident to speak to booth visitors.
  • Paper clips
  • Binder clips (helps hold signage or table throws nice and neat)
  • Stapler
  • Scotch tape
  • Clear Packing Tape (Save time and money by boxing up and securing your own shipping boxes)
  • Duct Tape
  • Bungee Cords – One or two different sizes – these are great for moving things between the exhibit hall and your hotel room or transportation.
  • Paper – letter size for marketing boxes etc.
  • Post-it-notes – booth staff can write notes on business cards or leave notes to each other.  You can also use them to write demo account information down on the back of a monitor or keyboard. (Don’t write a password on it!)
  • Sharpie pens – wide and fine point.
  • Dust cloth – the microfiber ones are great for removing dust and fingerprints from screens.
  • Mailing envelope or two.
  • A few ziplock bags – great for protecting business cards etc.
  • Paper towels for emergencies
  • Pens
  • Notebooks
  • Extra company branded shirts- If possible bring one extra per booth staff (in the sizes of the staff)- having these on hand to deal with spills, wrinkles for forgotten shirts can save the day.
  • Printed Show Guide- Before any trade show make sure you send around a who/what/when/where guide for employees to know where they need to be, where everyone is staying etc.  (Always good to also have a printed list of mobile numbers for all booth staff).
  • Professional Steamer – like the one at Bed, Bath & Beyond by Shark – from shirts to table throws to booth backdrops everything will be wrinkled.
  • Don’t forget – candy bowl, business card drop bowl, acrylic collateral and business card holders etc.


What did I miss?  What is in your kit?


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