Common Trade Show Mistakes & How You Can Avoid Them – Pt. 2

(Check out Common Trade Show Mistakes Part 1 if you missed it!)

Know Your Show (One Size Does Not Fit All)

Having the biggest exhibit in a given show may not be the best return on your investment.  If you are new to trade shows, it may be smart to set your sights on a booth design that is more manageable financially and having you take “baby steps” in the world of trade show exhibiting.  You will learn ultimately what works and what doesn’t after a few shows.  From graphics to display configurations, you will get a feel of what works for you.  You may have purchased a conference room for your booth, but rarely use it.  Maybe the results generated by a custom trade show display would outweigh the cost benefits of purchasing a used exhibit.  Is your show a smaller event such as a Chamber show or job fair?  Or, are you exhibiting in a large, mega show?  In the end, you will have to decide based upon your own experience just what kind of booth you should have and what shows to exhibit in.  Always let your booth fit the show.  Again, a professional can help you decide what kind of booth you will need once they know what kind of shows you are planning to attend.

Know Your Show (Exploring)

It’s tempting to just hang out in your booth.  After all, it’s safe and comfortable.   But trade shows are two way streets.  Potential customers are there to learn and discover new products, services, and suppliers.  You’re there to work with those customers…but you are also there to learn and discover as well.  Get out and walk the show! Which of your competitors are also exhibiting?  What do they have, and you don’t?  Are there trends you overlooked when planning your show?  You’re not there to spy, but friendly conversation goes a long way with friends and foes alike.  Don’t be afraid to say “hello” and ask how the show is going.  You want to be seen as friendly, and not as a medieval fortress with the drawbridge closed.

Cluttered Graphics

The average attendee (visitor) to a show may walk the aisles aimlessly and you have about 4 seconds to get their attention and get them to stop at your booth.  Having too much information in your booth can be confusing when just having your company name, your message, and how you can solve their problem may do the trick.  You can still have sharp looking graphics with your booth and make your booth stand out, but in a good way.  Many times, the old adage is true…”less is more.” And when it comes to your trade show display graphics, it can be especially true.

Poor Follow-up on Leads**

Remember, you are here to make sales and get qualified leads.  Getting the lead is just the first part of the selling process and your follow-up is what is going to lead to more sales.  Contacting those that came by your booth and expressed an interest in what you are selling is a necessity or else you are just wasting your money in exhibiting. Remember that your end goal for your event marketing strategy should always be positive trade show ROI.

Partying and Socializing

Trade shows can be a boring and a long proposition.  The days are long and you can’t wait till it is finally quitting time.  But you may be attending an after hours social, so be smart about it!  First, you are still on company time.  Even when you think you are not on company time, you are on company time!  That’s the reality.  If the company expects you to socialize with clients, then socialize and be on your best behavior.  If someone has to tell you what that means, then you shouldn’t be socializing with clients.

Lastly, trade shows may seem like a friendly gathering, but they are actually a competition.  What you say, where you say it, and who’s around when you say it, can have painful repercussions for you and your employer.  Avoid gossip.  It’s amazing what some people will say after a few drinks.  Just don’t be one of them!  “Loose lips sink ships!”

No one is perfect in trade show marketing.  If a company has been a trade show success, there is no harm in asking what works for them.  You want to increase sales, pure and simple.  Just take a few suggestions and avoid mistakes to make the most out of your show experience.

**(For even more information on getting good leads at your show, Apple Rock has invited Richard Erschik of St. Charles, Illinois to come in and speak on “Increase Your Event ROI.’  Richard is world renowned for expertise in trade show follow up.  Our event is here at our corporate headquarters in Greensboro and will be held November 10th from 3:00pm – 5:00pm.  RSVP to us by November 2nd at 336-232-4800.)