Don't Do These Same 4 Mistakes Trade Show Exhibitors Make

March 27, 2014

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.

Taking a proactive approach that attracts more people to yourtrade show booth exhibitis always a good idea. But you also need to spend some time looking over your plan to make sure you don't include these four bonehead ideas that some trade show displayexhibitors make.

Wasting Money on Swag No One Wants

Giving away items to the people who take time out of their day to visit your exhibition booth is a good idea. However, it's not a good idea when you waste your money on favors those people don't want.

Avoid overdone, lame ideas such as:

·         Pins with your logo on them (what would anyone do with these?)

·         Ink pens with your company name printed on them (sounds like a good idea, but it turns people off)

·         Stress balls (the 1990s have been over for a long time)

·         Bad T-shirts (if you're going to give away T-shirts, buy high-quality designs that people will actually wear)

Instead, give your guests swag they will use, such as:

·         Lip balm

·         Keychain flashlights

·         Nalgene-type water bottles

·         Luggage tags

·         Smartphone covers

Thinking Social Media Does the Work for You

Social media marketing can play a huge role in your exhibit's success. Some exhibitors make the mistake of thinking that platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ somehow do the work for them. These websites aren't magic. They're tools. Like a hammer or a compass or a pencil, you have to use the tool to make it work for you.

Don't let your Facebook page sit unused. When people see that, they assume you've gone out of business. There are a lot of companies making this mistake.

Get active by making new connections. Comment on people's blog posts, actively seek the profiles of people in your industry, and use your account to share blog posts.

Trying to Imitate or Improve on a Competitor's Idea

No one likes a copycat. If you see someone using a cool idea at a trade show, it's okay to incorporate aspects of that into your next event. There's a difference between spotting a smart idea and stealing a smart idea.

If you find yourself constantly comparing your trade show displays to those of your competitors, then you're focused on the wrong thing. Don't try to improve on someone else's idea. Instead, try to come up with your own ideas.

It's more important to create a unique identity for your exhibit than to one-up another company. Instead of competing head-to-head, walk over, introduce yourself, and offer your compliments. One option makes you look childish. The other makes you look confident and friendly.

Making Promises You Can't Keep

You should advertise your company's best features, but you shouldn't advertise your aspirations. By definition, aspirations are promises that you cannot keep. You can strive to meet them, but you will always fall short.

When you advertise those ideals, you set yourself up for scrutiny. Everyone knows your Web hosting business can't offer zero downtime. Everyone also knows that you have at least one disgruntled customer. If you advertise perfection, you'll get slammed for it.

You've probably seen some eyebrow-raising trade show mistakes. What are the ones that really, really didn't work?

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