4 Deadly Mistakes Trade Show Exhibitors Make

Even companies that have been in business for years often make mistakes when they go to trade shows. These 4 deadly mistakes will stunt your business’s growth. If you’re already making them, it’s time to reconsider your approach.

1. Creating Conversation Barriers

trade show display
Image via Flickr by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

You and your team go to trade shows to talk to people. You don’t go to hand out pamphlets. If that’s all you wanted to do, you could just leave a table full of inexpensive flyers at the event.

Unfortunately, a lot of businesses put informational material ahead of personal connections. Instead of standing in front of their displays so they can talk to people walking by, they sit behind a table full of literature. That’s not a good way to make connections.

2. Failing to Generate a Buzz

How many companies will have exhibits at the trade show? 100? 200? More?

Even if it’s a small event with 25 displays, you still face a lot of competition. That’s why you need to generate buzz before and during the trade show.

You have several options. You could release new products on the same day as the event, which encourages people to come see what new items you have to offer.

You can also use Twitter and Facebook to get people to visit your booth. Social media is a powerful way to generate pre-show buzz and social media marketing during the trade show can continue the traffic. When you feel a lull in the day, use your Twitter account to announce that you’ll have a giveaway in 15 minutes. People will flock to your table for free merchandise.

3. Lacking Objectives

Many businesses come to trade shows with vague goals. They usually want to make sales or get leads.

That’s not very specific. Do you want to get 100 leads or 1,000 leads? Do you need to sell 1,000 items or 10,000?

If you don’t have a specific goal, then you don’t know whether the event was successful. That ultimately means that you never learn how you can adjust your sales approach to improve performance.

Don’t settle for vague goals that will make you feel satisfied without telling you what you accomplished. That’s like giving yourself an honorary award for participation.

4. Using Amateur Displays

You and your team are the driving force behind a successful trade show exhibit; however, you still need professional displays that will help you stand out from other businesses. When people see exhibits that use stock photographs or lots of text cramped together on a small canvas, they tend to walk on by without a second thought.

You can’t blame them. You’d do the same thing. Why would anyone waste their precious time talking to a company that doesn’t take itself seriously enough to use a professional display?

Look around your next trade show and you’ll see hundreds of companies that have brought their “A” game. If you don’t plan to bring yours, then you might as well stay at home.

What deadly mistakes have you seen other companies make during trade shows? Have you ever realized that you’re making the same mistakes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About Timothy Carter

Timothy Carter is founder of digital marketing agency, OutrankLabs. He’s also the Director of Business Development for the Seattle-based content marketing 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.

Filed under: Conferences

One Comment

Jemma Taylor

I have observed exhibitors packing up before a show is over. This spreads from exhibitor to exhibitor and before you know it an exhibit hall is a mess of cleanup/breakdown!!

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