6 Most Common Trade Show Mistakes

August 10, 2013

Timothy Carter

Timothy Carter is the Director of Business Development for the Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency AudienceBloom. When Timothy isn't telling the world about the great work his company does, he's planning his next trip to Hawaii while drinking some Kona coffee.

Trade shows are the places for exhibitors to shine and present their products or services in the best possible light. Even if you have the most attractive trade show booth with banners and an awesome pop-up display, you can still make mistakes.

1. Annoying Barriers

Trade show tables are a must, but did you know if you place them in front of your booth space and sit behind them it creates a barrier between you and the attendees? Place display tables at an angle in the corners of your space or off to one side so you're free to meet, greet, and get to know the attendees.

2. Nobody Knows You're There

Another common trade show mistake is not informing customers and potential customers you will be at the trade show.

Fix this by sending out emails or a newsletter to your customers. Advertise in your local newspaper to inform the public you will be an exhibitor. Use social media to connect with prospects before the trade show. Marketing via social media is a great way to pre-qualify visitors. Also make sure you're on the trade show exhibitor list.

3. Sending the Wrong People

Business owners are a busy folk and often don't like to leave their stores or offices for fear of something going awry. When it's time for the trade show, many entrepreneurs send a low-level employee instead of attending the show.

While it's best to attend the show yourself, if you absolutely can't attend, send a top-level, knowledgeable employee who has the power to make decisions on your behalf—including negotiations. Nothing annoys attendees more than a presenter who can't answer their questions or offers comments such as, "I'll have to check with the owner."

4. Not Following Up with Attendees

MGD Advertising says a common mistake is not following up with potential customers. While at the trade show, a consumer interested in your product may still need some convincing.

It's important to obtain contact information from those intrigued by your product or service and then follow-up once the trade show is over. Calling is best, but you can also send an email asking when is a good time to contact them to ensure they set aside time to speak with you.

5. Exhibiting at the Wrong Trade Show

If you sell clothing and fashion accessories, there's really no need to exhibit at a home and garden expo. Another way to go unnoticed at an expo is having a bland display that doesn't offer custom imprinted table covers, brochures, fabric booths, colorful flooring, and pop-up displays. Investing in trade show displays is an essential marketing tool, as you can use them again and again.

6. Not Connecting with Competitors

Trade shows are a competitive arena, but that doesn't mean you should avoid making competitor contacts. These are possible partnerships. For example, if you're at a home and garden show and sell patio furniture, connect with swimming pool and patio exhibitors.

If you sell baby furniture, connect with baby photographers or exhibitors that sell infant clothing. Cultivate these partnerships for long-term referrals.

If you avoid these six common trade show mistakes, you'll be more successful and entice not only attendees, but other exhibitors as well.

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