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Plastics News' NPE Portal is your sole source for exclusive NPE2018 coverage! Get the latest news leading up to the biggest plastics trade event of the year. Plus, breaking news and live exhibitor coverage from the show floor!

From May 7 - 11, 2018

Orlando, FL

How Long Does it Take to Plan for the NPE Trade Show?

By Plastics News Custom Marketing

This is a sponsored* post and not shared by the Plastics News editorial staff.

NPE 2018 year is here. The NPE event is seen as one of the most influential events in Plastics. As your marketing and sales teams prepare for exhibiting in trade show, there’s a lot to plan. Plastics News Custom Marketing team recently reached out to Abby Georgacopoulos, Director of Marketing, TradeTec, who are experts in the business of helping clients succeed in trade shows. If your business is exhibiting next year for NPE in Orlando, this will be valuable information.

How Long Does it Take to Plan for the NPE Trade Show?

How to Plan for the NPE 2018 Trade Show

Plastics News Custom Marketing: How long does it take to plan for the show?

TradeTec: For a show of this significance, planning for NPE arguably starts at least a year before the show as strategic decisions need to be made prior to selecting and reserving booth space. Once booth space has been secured, there are several key planning milestones to consider:


  • Secure booth space.


  • Set Key Show Objectives.
    • Evaluate previous shows to see how many leads converted to sales, and your marketing return on investment, as well as any other goals you had for the show.
    • Set your top 2 or 3 objectives for the show, and establish methods of measurement.
  • Book your travel and hotel – it will fill up fast!!!


  • Plan/design the exhibit.
    • Review your current trade show display. If it still will help you achieve your new marketing objectives, keep it.  If not, start researching new exhibit builders.
    • For a smaller display or banner stands, this step can be pushed to 4-6 months before the show.
    • For some tips on choosing on choosing a new exhibit house partner check out this blog.


  • Enlist your booth staffers and book their travel.
  • Choose Your Exhibit Builder: Award the new build, and quickly and thoughtfully respond to their questions and requests for graphics, etc. to ensure timely completion of your new exhibit.
  • Review the “Show Book” – the book or webpage from the show with all the forms for ordering services.  Find the forms for services you need, and create a master list of all the deadlines to order and still get the discount rates.  Start earlier if the show provides it earlier.


  • Create Promotions: Brainstorm ideas for pre-show and at-show promotions that will help bring in a greater number of qualified leads into your booth, plus help your booth staffers to engage attendees.
  • Order Promotions: Select and order any promotional items you will be mailing pre-show.  Some can take only a few days, some can take over a month, depending where they are made and imprinted.


  • Train your booth staffers! They will be key to the success of your booth and ultimately the ROI for the show. They should know how to move through the booth, what messages and products to share, how to qualify prospects, how to disengage with unqualified visitors, and basic booth etiquette.


  • Refresher training for staffers, so everything is fresh/top of mind. Review the staffing schedule, process and info about your exhibit, your promotions, technology in the booth, and the show hall.


  • Collect Documents and Backup: Prepare and pack a master book or data file with all your at-show contacts including your booth staffers, exhibit house, and local show city vendors such as I&D to carry with you to the show.  Include art files for your graphics.


Plastics News Custom Marketing: What tips would you have specifically for marketing teams that are getting ready for the show?


1. Engage Your Sales Team

It is not uncommon in any industry for sales and marketing teams to have a communication gap.  In plastics, this can ring true as well.  Often in manufacturing, this gap becomes apparent when technically-focused analytical minds (engineers, etc.) clash with the presumably more creative ideas coming from marketing people. Spend some 1:1 time to understand the unique goals and challenges of your sales team. Do they have any specific agendas/goals for the show you should be aware of? What makes them passionate about the company or products you will be displaying? Make sure your teams are in sync on the key objectives of the show.

2. Plan and Execute a Pre-Show Marketing Campaign

Consider your trade show exhibit to be an expensive event…because it is! Between the space, the booth, the staff, the travel, this event is great investment. Not unlike a wedding. Have you ever attended a wedding without first receiving an invitation? Probably not. If you want people to come to your booth you need to invite them. Create some interest in your products, promotions, or activities you will have in the booth. A good pre-show campaign will have email, direct mail, and social media touches to maximize awareness and results.

3. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Training

Your booth staff can potentially make or break your show results. These are crucial roles for your success and require specific skills. Anyone scheduled to staff your booth needs to know everything about the booth, your key messages, your products, how to work technology in the booth, how to record lead information, and so on. In addition, they need to know basic booth etiquette and how to assess and engage with attendees. Take the time to train, or invest in a trade show industry professional who can do this for you.

We’d like to thank TradeTec for sponsoring this post. To know more about TradeTec, please click HERE. We thank you for supporting brands that support Plastics News.

*Note: These projects, created by Plastics News Custom Marketing, are commissioned by sponsors, who control the content. 

About Plastics News Custom Marketing

Plastics News custom marketing teams work with clients on research, brand strategy, storytelling and campaign management. Client campaigns deploy across various channels — using a 360 degree approach from print, digital, social media and direct mail, events and email — to ensure their custom content will reach the right audience.