Preparation is one of the most important things when you are exhibiting at a trade show. You can't expect to turn up and make a good impression without having made sure you are ready a long time in advance.

So what's the best way to make sure you are prepared? One method that many successful exhibitors use is to create a checklist a month or two in advance. This enables you to know exactly what needs doing before your next trade show. It also allows you to update the list whenever you need to make some modifications to what you need.

Creating a checklist from scratch can be difficult, and you will be racking your brains trying to think of what needs including. Here are a few of the things you should consider:

Stationery

Pens, pencils, erasers, rulers - all of these things will come in handy at your next exhibition. You should make sure you have a good supply on hand. This is especially true of pens. Some of them will break or run out of ink, while others will go missing thanks to absent-minded customers forgetting to put them back.

If you have pencils, bring a pencil sharpener. Otherwise everything you write down towards the end of the day will be smudged and blurry as you struggle to use a blunt lead. You should also think of bringing along some kind of sticky tape in case any part of your stand needs a hasty repair in the middle of the day.

Promotional material

There is no point turning up at your trade show if you don't have any way of promoting your company and its services or products. You can't just tell people about it; all your competitors will be there with an array of material designed to show off their businesses, so you will fall behind if you are not adequately prepared.

Make sure your checklist includes all the leaflets, business cards, product literature and point-of-sale materials you will need to adequately promote your company. You don't want to arrive at the show and realise you have forgotten an important part of your promotional strategy.

Contact sheets

You will meet a lot of people at any trade show, many of whom will have enquiries you won't necessarily be able to answer straight away. You should make sure you have a way of keeping track of all these.

Contact sheets are going to be a necessity. You can create these easily - all you need is a quick form with your contact's name, email address, telephone number and the details of their enquiry. You should also include invoicing details if you are expecting people to make orders at the show.

Make sure you include as much as possible on your checklist. It is always better to include too much than not enough, as you can always leave a few of the things you have prepared at the office. However, once you are at the trade show you will not be able to head out to pick up anything you've forgotten!