To Do Lists

Six Months to One Year Before a Trade Show

  • Read the trade show manual end-to-end
  • Research the destination and audience of attendees
  • Budget and procure design and building services for the exhibit
  • Determine show staffing and budget travel
  • Determine requirements and begin the application process for staff visas (if necessary)
  • Create a calendar of critical dates and deadlines for services and administrative filing
  • Determine which utilities the show provides and what others (e.g., water, power, drain, cleaning, furniture rental, carpeting padding, etc.) must be purchased
  • Complete forms and pay fees for services at discounted “early bird” rates
  • Determine if there are rules or fees associated with the shipment and carrying of goods to the venue
  • Determine if health forms are required to serve brewed coffee samples
  • Determine insurance needs (required in the USA). Obtain trade show insurance from the show’s recommended provider or company insurer. Follow the rules to file the insurance policy with show organizers.
  • Reserve cupping room space (often limited availability)

Three to Six Months Before a Trade Show

  • Oversee and approve display production
  • Print and mount booth graphics
  • Order services from show providers (water, electricity, carpet padding, cleaning, furniture, etc.)
  • Identify coffee samples to bring and confirm a plan for roasting (advance or agreement with third-party roaster)
  • Identify meeting venues and restaurants for social activities
  • Inventory handouts or other marketing materials to determine gaps, create and re-print, as necessary
  • Develop new 1-page information ‘sell sheets,’ as necessary
  • Conduct a pre-show trade media campaign to build awareness and traffic
  • Add show and booth information to trade media advertisements scheduled to run at or near the same time as the event;
  • Add mention of event appearance on the website, in a newsletter, and in email signatures
  • Complete the show guide listing and select relevant categories, keywords
  • Pay outstanding invoices. Confirm payment information is on file with the show contractor in case of onsite orders
  • Make hotel reservations (check penalty for cancellation)
  • Ship display materials to advance show warehouse

One to Three Months Before a Trade show

  • Book air travel (unless previously required for the visa process)
  • Register staff as conference exhibitors or attendees
  • If using third-party roasting services, send green samples to the roaster. Although roasting days before the event, allow substantial time for shipment and customs delays
  • If brewing coffee: secure brewing, grinding equipment, airpots, cups and paper supplies
  • Develop an “elevator pitch” — a 30-second description of the company that can be told on demand
  • Promote participation and booth number on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Inventory office and display supplies. Determine which materials to ship ahead and which to hand-carry
  • Identify trade media contacts who will be at the event
  • Request a preregistered attendee list from show organizers and use it for personalized invitations. DO NOT solicit buyers by email indiscriminately

One Week to One Month Before a Trade Show

  • Schedule customer meetings, social engagements
  • Develop a list of talking points or standard information that all booth staff should know
  • Create a lead sheet with pre-printed form fields for name, company, email, notes about discussion and sales contact
  • Develop a short press announcement about some newsworthy activity or accomplishment to distribute
  • Purchase any last-minute supplies to hand-carry
  • Create a list of all booth staff attending the show with hotel information and mobile phone numbers for each, and distribute it to all staff
  • Determine what time staff must arrive (and where) for pre-show meeting
  • Schedule time and responsibilities for booth setup and tear down before and after the event;
  • Determine booth cleaning schedule assigned to staff
  • Determine booth staffing schedule for each day of the event (rotating to allow show viewing and meetings)
  • Develop a schedule of lectures, activities, events, and customers or competitor exhibits to visit

One Day Before a Trade Show

  • Confirm customer meetings
  • Conduct pre-show staff meetings. A 1-2 hour meeting held in advance at the show is recommended during setup or immediately before the event opening
  • Discuss show hours, registration process
  • Promote team spirit, collaborative message projected to customers
  • Discuss prospect qualifying procedures and collection/distribution of sales prospect information, lead sheets
  • Distribute talking points and information sheets
  • Explain and demonstrate nonverbal communication cues
  • Lead collection procedures (how to collect and distribute after the show)
  • Establish a policy about personal items and clutter
  • Establish a policy about personal food and beverages in the booth space

After a Trade Show

  • Hold a wrap-up meeting on the final day of the event to discuss challenges and successes (recorded for project notes)
  • Distribute lead sheet contact information from the show to staff
  • Discuss most and least favorite booths at the show. Discuss as a group and use constructive comments to approve future appearances
  • Thank all visitors by email. The staff person listed on each lead sheet completes the indicated follow-up actions.
  • Tally metrics (impressions, contacts, media contact, sales revenue, etc.)
  • Tally total costs
  • Record sales contact information associated with the show for future planning.
  • Analyze the cost per metric to determine if the show was a good investment.


Return to:
Part 1: Why Market Coffee at Trade Shows
Part 2: Adding Value
Part 3: Event Selection
Part 4: Exhibit or Attend
Part 5: What to Bring
Part 6: How to Prepare
Part 7: Marketing
Part 8: Checklists