Giving away a low quality trinket.
If you can only afford something that will break the
second time your client uses it, save the money and buy
coffee for your staff on the day of the show instead.
Another option may be to give your clients coupons for a
discount on their next purchase and only give an
inexpensive, but durable, giveaway to other clients such
as a pen or branded post it notes. You may not get
points for originality, but it is better than being
remembered as the company that had the water bottle that
A drawing for something that has nothing to tie it back
to your company or message. Everyone loves the
tech giveaways, but they are more likely to draw
everyone to your booth. This brings a potential for not
reaching your target audience. Trust me, there are too
many Apple Watch and iPad giveaways and they are not
always relevant to the brand. I once won an iPod. I
love it. I can’t tell you the company that gave it to
me (I feel a little bad about that). Instead create a
giveaway that does tie into your branding. For example,
Skyline gave away donations to one of three charities
the year we launched our “Helping the World Trade” core
purpose at EXHIBITOR
While this was not related to trade shows, it did tie
into our release of our core purpose of “Helping the
World Trade” which in part is about sharing with our
clients that we care about helping them and our
Bringing a speaker that does not tie their presentation
back to your product or service benefits or
booth theme. Instead, consider having a
knowledgeable speaker in your industry or someone who
can help improve your customer’s productivity at work.
It is great to have someone who can draw a crowd, but
they should also be able to draw the right crowd and
give them a message that is relevant to your brand.
Consider an educational speaker or someone higher up in
your company that can speak to your product in an
entertaining way. Another idea is to host a networking
meeting for top clients and promote it via a special
invitation just for them. If your exhibit is large
enough you can host it in your booth, otherwise reserve
a room at a nearby restaurant after the show and spring
for appetizers and their first beverage.
Not having a social media hashtag for your show
Make sure you include the hashtag for the trade show or
event you are participating in and others for your
company or relevant industry publications. If you have
a tagline for your theme, make sure to include that
consistently in all your communications as well. For
example, if you are at CES, the Consumer Electronics
Show, you would use #CES #CES2016 @nameofyourcompany #Yourtradeshow/eventtheme
Waiting until the day of the show to share that you are
exhibiting at the show on social media. If
you did not send anything to your followers at least
four weeks before the show then they don’t have you on
their radar. You should ideally send at least 3
communications before the show via your different
channels. We recommend you focus on LinkedIn, Facebook
and Twitter. However, depending on the nature of your
product you may also want to do Pinterest.
Not sharing what your message / draw is for visiting
your booth well before the show starts. Make
sure that your key message is consistent across all your
communications: Pre-show promotion, industry
advertising, event or trade show signage and
publications and exhibit signage. Do you have anything
new to share? Maybe a newer product or service? Will
you be providing demos or training in your booth? Will
there be hands on opportunities with product or face to
face opportunities with key company representatives?
Whatever your key message, make sure potential attendees
know about it.
Poor giveaway branding. Do
you think your client will use the giveaway? Is the look
consistent enough with your brand that it will remind
their client of what you do for them? Are they so ugly
that you hope they will not? Make sure your branding is
appropriate, legible and attractive. Think about how
long someone will hang on to the promotional piece and
consider wear and tear before making your selection. If
you have a more formal brand, you would stay formal with
your giveaway and messaging. If you have a playful
brand or if you are edgy, then show it.
Not providing clients with a benefit statement or
will help make their job easier or inform them why they
should consider your product or service. It is
surprising to see how often you get a promotional email
or postcard and have a hard time figuring out what they
do. While some large companies may be able to leverage
past communications and rely on their brand equity, Coca
Cola for example. In general, most companies should say
what they do and their product/service or organization’s
Not sending your best clients an invitation to visit
your booth. You
may assume that they already know about the show or that
whether or not you send an invitation will not make a
difference. However, they are more likely to attend and
visit you if you send them a personalized invitation.
Remember, they are busy and although they may have
attended, or not, in the past you want to stay on their
list of companies to consider.
Not finding out client and attendee demographics to
better select promotional items most relevant to them.
Don’t assume that the latest popular gadget – or worse,
the cheapest giveaway – should be your giveaway at your
next show. Take a moment to look at information about
attendees provided by the show or information you have
about your clients. Then think about what they would
appreciate when making your promotional material
Email promotions with bad hyperlinks, art that doesn’t
display, bad redirects or high SPAM scores.
Email promotions with high SPAM scores will go directly
to recipient’s SPAM folders or can’t get through their
firewall. Work with your e-marketing or IT specialists
to make sure your email promotions have the best chance
of making it to their intended recipients.
Not training your staff well before your event about
what you are promoting and why. Make sure they
know the overall objectives of the event. What are your
goals, target market, giveaways, who gets what and why?
I was shocked when an existing client came to our
exhibit one year and told a staffer that he did not need
to talk to anyone because he was already a client. The
booth staffer barely acknowledged him, turned around and
moved on to the next person. The appropriate response
would have been to thank him for his business and make
sure he got at least the same, or better, giveaway and
messaging as new prospects. Clearly, this staffer
should have had better training.
Whatever you choose to do to draw customers to your trade
show or event, be sure to always think of how it will affect
your company perception in the long run, as well as your
ability to get new leads.
©2016 by Sofia Troutman