Trade shows are a great way for your company to show off your people and your products. As an exhibitor, you are in front of an invested audience looking for answers – and you hold the solutions.
Trade shows also represent a lot of hard work, planning, and effort. It’s a shame to let some common mistakes capsize your potential. Here are 14 missteps that you’ll want to avoid at your next exhibition.
No Specific Goals
When someone asks you about your goals for a trade show, you shouldn’t have to hesitate. And if your answers are “generate more leads” or “increase sales,” you need to get more specific. It is essential to calculate your return on investment for every trade show you participate in. In order to do that, you need clear, concise goals, like:
- Earn a set number of qualified leads.
- Build brand awareness by getting a specific amount of attendees to visit your booth.
- Network with a certain amount of industry professionals.
- Generate an exact number of interviews or news stories.
- Introduce a set number of people to a new product.
No Social Media
It’s 2017. Social media has long gone from “something that would be nice to have” to being essential. It is impossible to overstate this. If you’re not promoting you presence at an upcoming event (and, furthermore, continually promoting goings-on during the event) via social networking channels, you might as well be using two cans and some string to announce your marketing efforts.
Trust me, your competition is using social media. Shouldn’t you at least find out what they’re saying?
Not Reading The Exhibitor’s Manual Thoroughly
Every trade show is different and every one of those differences is chronicled in the exhibitor’s manual. Granted, it may not be a fun read, but each rule and regulation you need to follow and every deadline you need to hit is in that manual.
Not following the manual will cost you in penalties and time. So, save your sanity and your company’s money by understanding your specific obligations at this trade show.
Not Allowing Enough Time For Shipping
Shipping at the last minute is extremely expensive, and one little holdup can throw off your set-up, maybe even the wreck your first day of the show.
Avoid these unnecessary hassles by shipping your exhibit to the advance warehouse with plenty of time to spare. This way any delays in shipping aren’t complete disasters and your anxiety is slightly mitigated.
Not Taking Size into Consideration
You don’t want to get a booth that’s too small; small booths tend to be located away from the main action.
However, if you’re not ready for it, you don’t want to go super big, either. An island exhibit makes a huge splash and quite a statement, but if you’re unable to maximize that space, you may wind up looking unprepared and amateurish.
No Pre-show Marketing
It’s a big deal that you’re going to be at this show. Let people know about it. Send out mailers and emails, tweets and Facebook posts. Set up a contest or raffle to encourage people to stop by your boot. Also, contact existing customers to see if they’re attending and arrange to meet up.
Your trade show graphics should be a billboard. One glance should be all it takes to understand a billboard. Your graphics need to be clear, straightforward messages in colors that align with your brand.
Be creative, not messy.
Giveaways are great and everyone loves SWAG, but ask yourself, “How will this product help reinforce my brand?”
Try to make your giveaways align with your company and brand in a way that’s fun and memorable.
Amateur Booth Staff
Chewing gum, talking amongst themselves while visitors are present, eating at the booth: you never know what may be the one thing to make or break a potential lead.
A professional presentation from you booth staff is a must. These individuals represent your company and should be extremely informed about your products and service so that can answer any questions.
Make sure that expectations are set and frequently reinforced and that your staff is properly informed before the event.
Spotty Audio & Video
Everyone has had A/V problems, but that doesn’t change the fact that dead monitors and fuzzy connections make your booth look amateurish. If you bring your own equipment, make sure you have backup cables, remotes, and batteries.
Better yet, work with a pro that guarantees the quality of their equipment.
Neglecting Daily Booth Upkeep
Smudged surfaces, graphics that are askew: trade show booths see a lot of action during the day. It should be someone’s job to routinely clean surfaces, watch for trash that visitors may leave behind, and just general upkeep.
It’s an extra touch that shows you care about putting your best foot forward.
Too Much Partayy
Yes, you are at this event to meet people. However, while that networking event may be after hours, it is not off the clock. Relax and have a drink or three. Just know your limits.
You never know what you may say to embarrass yourself or your company as you become more lubricated. And showing up the next morning pale in the face, wincing with every step, and sweating booze is a bad look for you and your brand.
You and your staff are at this event to represent your company – be professional.
Poor Follow Up on Leads
You spent all this time and effort at the show and now those leads are just sitting around gathering dust. What are you doing?
Lead follow up should actually begin before the show by establishing who is responsible and ensuring they have the tools, materials, and time they need.
When you return, lead follow up needs to be the top priority. Leads lose value the longer they sit around.
Ignoring Show Evaluations
You did great at this trade show, but can you do better?
Take some time after the event to really reflect on what went well and how you can develop some best practices and what still need work so you can improve.
For more tips on a flawless exhibition, the professionals at The Trade Group are here to help. Give us a call at 800-343-2005 to see how our years of experience can benefit you.