Bad Branding?

Six Trade Show Mistakes to Avoid

We all make mistakes from time to time. But why not try and limit the amount of mistakes we make through education and proper preparation? Here’s some mistakes to avoid for your upcoming tradeshow event.
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As live events return, it’s time to dust the cobwebs off your marketing material and get back to the trade show circuit. However, for some, it’s been two years or more since their last exhibit, so your trade show skills may need a little dusting, as well. Whether you just need a little live events refresher or are new to exhibiting, here are six critical trade show mistakes to avoid at all costs.

AVOID not researching trade shows

Few things are more frustrating at a trade show than watching traffic pass as crowds gather at other displays. Just because a show is in your industry does not guarantee that your target audience is in attendance. Since there are only so many shows your company will attend each year, it is crucial to be at the events that best match your brand.

Finding the right trade shows for your organization may take some effort, but the results are worth the work. Check out these resources to start in the right direction:

  • Association materials
  • Competitors’ websites
  • Suggestions from clients
  • Shows your company has previously attended

With a thorough review, you may uncover some surprising gems, such as regional trade fairs and under-served areas where you could fill a niche. It may also reveal additional helpful insights, like subtle industry trends, to help you focus your marketing efforts.

When you come across a promising show, gather as much information about it as you can find, including:

  • The show’s average attendance
  • Whether or not your target audience attends
  • Age of the showIts industry reputation
  • The cost
  • And more

Arrange all of your data on a spreadsheet and compare the pros and cons of each show. Then whittle down the selections to find the right shows for your company.

AVOID waiting to buy exhibit space

Trade show organizers want to fill their show floor space early to promote the exciting exhibitors to potential attendees. It just so happens that you’re one of those exciting exhibitors.

Typically, trade show management offers “early bird” discounts – that can be pretty significant – to encourage early registrations. With the money saved through the deal, you can become a sponsor (which may also be discounted) or take advantage of other marketing opportunities at the show (or just save some dough).

Also, by registering early, you have a better chance to secure your preferred spot on the show floor.

AVOID not using every available opportunity to promote your presence at the show

Today, trade show attendees buzz across the show floor with a plan, knowing where they want to be and when. Expert booth design and exhibit graphics can grab their attention and make them alter their routes, but if you fail to reach out and let people know you’re exhibiting, you’re missing a key opportunity to get on their agenda.

So, promote your trade show exhibition before the show. Start by creating a memorable hashtag. You want something that links you to the event but will not be confused with the event’s marketing. Then reach out to your target audience, both current customers and prospective clients.

Create an email campaign and sign up to be a part of any emails sent by the show, too. Be sure to reach out on social media, using the platforms that your target audience prefers. For your most important clients and prospects, personally reach out, let them know where you’ll be, and give them reasons to swing by your exhibit.

AVOID failing to follow up

According to a report from, 35% to 50% of sales from trade show leads go to the vendor that reaches out first. Since most trade show lead outreach occurs within five days of the show, the prime time to strike is within the first 24 to 48 hours after the show. Waiting just provides your competition the opportunity to get a jump on you.

It’s ok to be persistent, just not annoying (it’s a fine line, walk it carefully). Research has shown that 54% of sales from a trade show lead occur after three or fewer calls, which means that 46% require more than three calls. Build a relationship with your prospects, and they are likely to become long-time customers.

AVOID booth staff that looks uninterested and unprofessional

What they say about first impressions may be cliché, but that doesn’t make it less accurate; you only get one chance.

The hours on the show floor can be exhausting. Not only are you on your feet for hours, but you also have to be at the top of your game at all times. It’s understandable if tired booth staff wants to slouch against a counter, stash a snack beneath a display table, or stare at their phone for a while. Understandable but also unacceptable.

The appearance of your booth is a motivating factor in whether a passerby stops or continues to pass by. The reason you spend so much time and effort on your trade show display’s graphics, signage, and overall appearance is to create a welcoming, engaging environment.

You have three seconds to grab an attendee’s attention. In those three seconds, that attendee makes several assumptions about your company. A booth staff that looks unwelcoming and unprofessional can undo all of your planning and hard work.

You can’t predict what will lead someone to decide to skip your booth. It could be a staffer leaning with their back to the crowd or typing on their phone looking bored. It could be two staffers engaged in a personal conversation and not paying attention when someone nears the booth. It could be a staffer out of uniform or with an untucked shirt. It could even be minor, like a food carton or open water botted sitting on a counter.

Booth professionalism does not mean that staffers cannot have fun – the opposite, actually. Working the booth should be fun, and attendees should feel the positive energy coming from your booth. However, make sure that booth visitors feel like they’re part of the fun and not excluded from it.

AVOID a boring, uninteresting booth

Of all the critical trade show mistakes to avoid, this one takes the cake. Fortunately, there’s a surefire way to dodge this catastrophe: partnering with The Trade Group.

We create eye-catching, attention-grabbing custom trade show displays that ensure you stand apart from the rest of your trade show competition. Don’t make these critical tradeshow mistakes to avoid. Give us a call at 972-734-8585 or contact us here.

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