With the National Stationery Show less than 60 days away I’ve been getting an influx of emails from TSBC alumni and new exhibitors needing help and advice. Let’s all take a deep breath. You’ve got this!
Preparing for tradeshows can be downright exhausting, even for veteran exhibitors. Late nights, lengthy to do lists and high emotions are not uncommon before, during and after the show. But, there are ways to manage the stress and the steady stream of decisions that need to be made. Let’s calm nerves together.
- Create a Master To Do List. This will be the list to top all lists. Start big and then break it down into smaller, more manageable lists. Keep in mind that this list (and its sub-lists) will be a living, breathing document that grows and shrinks. Plan to update it at least twice a week.
- Map out a Plan. Pull out a calendar and plot ALL early bird deadlines for booth services, marketing projects, media submissions and everything else on your master to do list. Work backwards from your tradeshow date and assign a set number of specific tasks for each week.
- Set a Budget and Stick to It. Very early on, determine how much you want to spend on your show. Factor in everything – your booth space & components, marketing materials, travel and lodging and a buffer for miscellaneous expenses. Knowing which elements are important to you, where you plan to spend your money and how much you’re spending overall will relieve some of the stress.
- Make Decisions and Move On. A lot of decisions will need to be made as you prepare for your show. Do your homework, research your options, make an informed decision and move on. Be confident in your choices and try not to overthink things.
- Check it Off. Take pride in checking things off the list, even if you add an item to the list after you’ve finished the task! There is something very rewarding about crossing tasks off a list, no matter how big or small.
- Take Breaks. Schedule down time leading up to the show. Exercise, date night with your significant other, dinner with friends or even just a full night sleep – step away from the computer and give yourself a mental break. Taking breaks will help relieve stress, allow you to refocus and will reenergize you.
- Take Care of Yourself. Eat well, sleep as much as you can, and do your best to minimize stress leading up to the show. It is easy to run yourself ragged during this time; you’re juggling other aspects of your business, family life, personal obligations AND preparing for a major tradeshow. You do not want to get sick before a show (I promise) and a little TLC can go a long way.
- Ask For Help. Recruit friends and family to help you get ready for the show. They’ll be happy to help address pre-show mailers, proof your catalogs or watch your kids for a couple of hours. Remember that your friends and family are your biggest fans, they want to see you succeed and will be happy to lend a hand where they can!
- Find Comfort in Community. Use social media or online forums to connect with others who are preparing for your tradeshow. Leading up to the National Stationery Show it is not uncommon to find late night dance parties, pleas for help or virtual hugs on Twitter. Even if you run your business solo, you’re not alone as you prep for your tradeshow. Having a supportive network of industry colleagues who can relate to what you’re going through is invaluable.
- It is a Marathon Not a Sprint. Several of our TSBC alums wanted me to share that selling wholesale and preparing for your tradeshow should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. Recognize that your tradeshow is just one step in the process of growing your business. Soak in every moment, learn from your experiences and enjoy the ride!
Feel better? I sure hope so! If you need additional help, be sure to join our TSBC mailing list. I’ll be sharing some additional resources and a new online course exclusively with our newsletter subscribers later this week.