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Special Operations
A tactical tradeshow plan - your success roadmap

By: Wesley A. Ford

Wesley A. Ford is co-founder of Immediate Impact, Inc., a multimedia company and much more. For more information how you can make an immediate impact for you or your company, go to To learn more about Desktop Channels, mailto:

Whether your objective is to close more business, or just create awareness about your company, you must get attendees to your booth.

The saying goes…work your plan and the plan will work. It works. Simple, accurate and to the point. The United States Military uses this technique every day with great success. Minor modifications have been made to focus on the tradeshow event.

Tradeshow Operation Orders

The plan "must be the logical outcome of all your considerations of the relevant factors." Operation orders follow a prescribed format, mainly to ensure that they address all important matters, but also to aid in the accurate communication of orders in stressful situations. Utilizing this format for each and every show will allow all personnel to rapidly and easily identify their respective responsibilities. Tradeshow orders include the following paragraphs:
  1. Situation -- a description of the show, your objectives, location of competitors on the show floor. Statistics from previous events showing the amount of leads generated, sales closed from those leads, etc.

  2. Mission -- a clear (usually) single sentence that specifies the task to be accomplished by your company.

  3. Execution -- a paragraph describing the Marketing or Tradeshow Manager's concept of the booths objectives and allocating tasks to vendors and other team personnel. Pre-show projects to generate "buzz" and interest are detailed. It usually includes co-coordinating instructions covering such things as timelines, meeting dates, vendor selection, booth development and so on. Instructions on how the booth is to operate will be covered as well.

  4. Service Support -- a paragraph describing every aspect of the logistics plan for the show. It would include such things as booth support, transportation arrangements, and drayage.

  5. Post Show Follow-Up -- here the show director will describe what will happen with all the leads generated during the event. A description of techniques or technologies that will be implemented to continue the interest generated from the event.
Obviously, the experience and training of booth personnel and the nature of the event greatly influence the amount and detail of information included in a tradeshow operations order. When a tradeshow team is inexperienced and has few standing operating procedures, or when the event is long, difficult, or unusual, then one would expect to see very detailed operation orders at all levels. Moreover, managers in the marketing or events chain of command should be particularly diligent in overseeing the preparation of orders and in checking to ensure that orders are well understood by all personnel.

© 2002 Wesley A. Ford

Other Articles by Wesley A. Ford

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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