Imagine for a moment that you paid a lot of money to exhibit at the largest, most popular event in your industry. It’s a huge step for your business. You worked hard to get all of your event collateral together, but you hit numerous delays along the way and now it’s going down to the wire. It’s the day before the event and you are still waiting for the new brochures your team created specifically for this event. At 5 pm, your shipping company calls to tell you that the shipment is stuck in another state due to a storm. You cringe as you realize that you’ll have to bring the old brochures that aren’t at all consistent with your new brand image.
Event collateral disasters are completely avoidable, but to do so requires a lot of planning and legwork early on in the process. When you put that effort in upfront, you can spend more time focusing on creating high-quality event collateral that will get your target market’s attention.
I recently created print event collateral for one of my clients who hosted an event in Cartagena, Colombia. What is the key to successful event collateral? It needs to be professional, easily recognizable and brand consistent. When you use the same logos, fonts, colors, patterns, brand voices over and over again, customers easily recognize your brand and easily remember your business.
When you are hosting an event or have a booth at a tradeshow, there is a lot of preparation that needs to be done. Putting the time in upfront will pay off in the end when you and your team meet all of the deadlines and you have everything you need in place for a successful event.
Following are some guidelines that you can use when you are preparing for an event.
• Write down every piece of collateral items you will need for your event
It’s easy to remember some key items like business cards and brochures, but did you remember the little items? Signs, name badges, giveaway items with your logo are a few items that can be easily forgotten.
Don’t forget about pre-event collateral as well. Invitations (print or digital) and save-the-date postcards are a great way to let people know about the event as well as a quick preview of what they can expect to see at the event.
• What is the size of each item?
For each item, write down the dimensions required and make sure your staff and designers all have this information. And don’t forget about your copywriters. They need to know how much space they have to work with.
You’ll save your designers valuable time when you give your entire team the dimensions early. Your project will avoid delays due to late revisions as well as wasted time as you scramble to find the specs for your project with deadlines rapidly approaching.
• Use templates for print collateral if possible
Using templates helps to keep your collateral consistent. When you design your template, make sure it is accessible to your whole team. Make sure the files have names that accurately reflect what they are and can easily be located by team members when they need to update or order collateral.
Sometimes your vendor or printer may provide a template to use when creating your event collateral. This makes everyone’s life easier.
For example: when you create a large print banner, the printing company may provide you with a template with a print guideline that helps to minimize lost time. Likewise, it saves your printer time as well as he/she will receive the artwork for the banner formatted and sized correctly. This avoids any unnecessary delays in the process.
• What quantities do you need?
You will likely bring several different types of collateral to your event, but you may not need to bring the same quantity of each. Spend some time doing a little research on the event and find out what the attendance numbers were in previous years. This will give you an approximate idea of how much to bring.
Keep in mind that for some items, such as signs, it may be a good idea to have an extra sign printed up just in case. Although it doesn’t happen often, sometimes items get damaged in transit. This will help to avoid that last minute panic you might experience when you pull your sign out of the box and realize that the stand broke in transit.
One other factor to consider when determining the quantities of your event collateral is the quantity price breaks available through your printer. Most printers will offer lower prices for high quantities ordered, so it may make sense to consider items needed at future events as well.
• Create a timeline and schedule of deadlines.
Your deadlines are going to determine the timeline for the entire project. The first step is to gather all of your deadlines from your vendors and printers. Remember to factor in turnaround times as well as transit times if your item will be shipped.
Next, if you are managing the project, you may want to create a timeline for your team that allows time for possible glitches and delays (inevitably, something always comes up to delay the process).
Finally, work backward to create your production timeline. Starting with the final deadline date, establish the due dates for your third, second, and first drafts. Remember to factor in time for reviews and revisions.
Remember that print items will take extra time to complete compared to digital items. If you are concerned about quality over quantity and want to avoid back and forth time with your printer, make sure to include extra time for production before sending a file to your printer. For example: if you need a large banner to print, it normally takes 5-7 business days after you submit a file to your printer. Plus, you have to add in shipping time. If you use your local printer, it can be delivered next day after print but if you use an online printing company located in a different state, it takes longer. If you use overnight delivery will cost more.
Overall, when you put the time in upfront to organize your event collateral, you’ll be able to spend more of your time focusing on creating collateral that is professional, easy to recognize, and reinforces a consistent brand image for your company. Your team members will know exactly what they are responsible for and when their projects are due, allowing them to make the best use of their time and create high-quality event collateral that will help to make your business stand out.