10 Trade Show Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making

August 30, 2015

1. Not doing your research. Before you sign up for a trade show, make sure it’s the right one for you. Know ahead of time whether the people that will be attending are your target audience and whether you think the investment will pay off. Make sure you know about the registration dates, size of booth and which competitors will be there.  The more you know and the more prepared you are, the less stress you’ll have to deal with

2. Not knowing why you’re attending. Once you choose to attend a trade show, analyze what you want to get out of it and set some goals. Are you trying to sell, are you trying to get a certain number of leads, are you showing off new products? By setting specific goals, you and your team will have something to focus on and everyone will be on the same page.

3. Having an untrained staff. Every person in your booth is a representation of your company. Attendees will form their first impression of your company based on your staff. Make sure to train your staff on the products and services that you will be offering so that they are prepared to answer questions anyone may have. You have to be on top of your game because you’re in a room filled with your direct competitors and if you don’t impress your customers, there’s hundreds of other companies they can immediately turn to.  You should also teach them about the type of questions they should be asking so that they get the most qualified leads.

Other things your staff should avoid during the trade show:

●       Texting

●       Making phone calls

●       Eating at your booth

●       Sitting in the display area and not interacting with attendees

●       Not wearing the appropriate attire

4.  Not taking care of your display. Displays are meant to last a couple of years and because they cost your company money, make sure that you take care of your display. Although at the end of the show you’ll want to rush and pack up your display, make sure you fold it or put it away properly. Otherwise, you can damage your display or it will look wrinkled and messy the next time you use it. If you won’t be attending, you can ask for those that are attending to send you pictures to make sure your booth looks good.

5. Cluttered Design. Remember that you only have about 5 seconds to catch someone’s attention and you can grab their attention by having a display that is visually appealing. Those walking the trade show should be able to tell who you are and what you do right away. Be creative with your design but make sure it fits in with your overall branding and that there is still a clear message. People are not only basing their first impression on the staff members, but they’re also making a first impression based on your design.

Other design mistakes to avoid:

●       Information Overload.

●       Cluttered graphics.

●       Having graphics below the knee that people can’t see.

6. Placing your giveaways upfront. If your giveaways are being placed out in the front where anyone can grab them, people are likely to come and take your freebies without any real benefit to you or to them.  Instead, focus on passing them out to qualified leads. Keep them at the back of your exhibit or even out of site. If you have set a budget, focus on purchasing quality freebies that people will like and use, rather than items that people will just throw away.

7.  Focusing on quantity. You should be focusing on the quality of your leads and building meaningful relationships. It’s not a race to get as many business cards as possible.. Instead, focus on a few people that sound interested or that have a need for what you do. Share your information with them and start opening the gates of communication right away.

8. Ignoring social media. Because you’ll be busy, you don’t have to use every form of social media there is while at the trade show. But it's a huge mistake if you aren’t at least using Facebook or Twitter which will help you share more about your company (look at it as a free form of advertising). Connect with people on Twitter and Facebook that you spoke with so that after the trade show, they’ll continue to hear about your company. You can also use it to connect with people that you might not have had a chance to meet at your booth. Use LinkedIn after the trade show to connect with people in a more professional manner.

9. Not walking the show. Hopefully there is more than one person at your booth so that you are able to walk around and check out the other booths. You can see what products are new, find people that you might be able to partner up with and check out what your competitors are doing. You’re missing out if you are in your own bubble. Instead, explore and learn from what other people are doing.

10. Not following up on your leads. This is probably the biggest mistake you can make. You spend time and money at a trade show to try to collect leads to increase sales, it doesn’t make sense to not use the most valuable information you collected to your advantage. Send your leads a personal message immediately following the trade show to remind them of who you are. Then give them a few days to settle back into their routine and give them another call or email, figure out what their needs are and how you can help them.

If you avoid these rookie mistakes, you’ll surely excel at your next trade show!

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