5 Biggest Trade Show Mistakes

Posted by Traci Browne 06/14/2017 0 Comment(s)

Five Biggest Trade Show Mistakes Exhibitors Make:


I’ve never met an exhibitor yet who says they are just going to show up at a trade show and who have every intention of just winging it. Even first-time exhibitors put a lot of thought into their presence at an expo and plan diligently for it. Despite good intentions, even veteran exhibitors make big mistakes that have a negative effect on their show budget or dilute their show results. The following is our top five biggest mistakes exhibitors make.


1. INSUFFICIENT STAFFING: The people staffing your booth at a trade show are your number one asset. Not sending the right person or enough people to the show can ruin your chances of success. We’ve all been on the show floor and witnessed that person sitting behind a table glued to their smartphone and ignoring everyone walking past. Don’t make that same mistake. Send someone who is enthusiastic about your product or service and outgoing enough to engage people as they walk past the booth.


Working the show floor is exhausting. You want the person who is representing you to be performing at their best, so be sure to send back up so they can take a break, grab a bite to eat, and recharge their batteries. The buddy system also helps elevate boredom during slow times and gives each person the opportunity to work to their strengths instead of their weaknesses.


2. PROCRASTINATION: Another huge mistake people make is also a budget buster. If you wait until the last minute to sign up for a show or wait until a month before the show opens to read through your paperwork, you’re going to miss all the early bird discounts. Not meeting those early bird deadlines will add up. You’ll miss out on hundreds of dollars in savings on advanced shipping benefits. Show services, such as electrical, carpeting, and furnishings often end up costing much more than if you had ordered them months before under early bird pricing. Crack open that exhibitor kit as soon as you receive it and mark all early bird deadlines on your calendar.


3. NOT LISTENING: Not only is not listening enough a big mistake, but it's also what ultimately turns off a potential buyer. We have the tendency to want to create the perfect pitch for a trade show. You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention, so make it worthwhile right? Wrong. The best way to catch someone’s attention at a trade show is by asking them a qualifying question. Then, take the time to listen to their answer. If they are not the right fit, you know it right away, and neither one of you wastes the other’s time. If it turns out they are a qualified booth visitor, you’ll have a better understanding of what their needs are, and you can craft your pitch to address those needs.


4. NO PRE-SHOW PLANNING: You can’t just show up and expect people to pour into your booth. If you do not do any pre-show outreach and planning, you won’t get on attendees’ short list of must see vendors. Take advantage of marketing opportunities the show provides that fit within your budget. Many shows offer a vehicle for media outreach at no cost to their exhibitors, so start there. Show organizers typically allow a one-time use of the attendee list (usually for a fee) or will offer some type of promotional outreach tool you can take advantage of. Don’t send a mass mailing with a generic message to the entire list of attendees. Segment the list, send information only to legitimate prospects, and make your message resonate with each segmented group. 


5. INADEQUATE DISPLAY: Putting zero effort into your display is a colossal mistake even for those with limited budgets. Invest in high quality, sturdy, eye-catching banners and signs with messages that speak directly to the show’s audience. Less is more when it comes to capturing the attention of passers-by. Limit your message to just ten words or less and accompany that with an eye-catching image. Strategically placed lighting that highlights your products or message will add an extra professional touch to your display and draw potential customers and clients in. Don’t overcrowd your space with every product you sell. Focus on what will resonate the most with your audience and give them room to experience your product hands on. Once they are in your booth, let your staff do the heavy lifting by asking the right questions and engaging the visitor in a mutually beneficial conversation.


What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made, or have seen other exhibitors make? Please share them with us below so others can learn from them, and not repeat the cycle.


-Traci Browne


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