|During the past 7 years, working with clients in
the trade show industry, in St. Louis, MO, have allowed me to work with many
different companies, industries, marketing teams and personalities. Iíve had the
benefit of seeing some really great success and trade show strategy. And, Iíve
also seen companies who have stumbled because of mistakes that have been made in
several different areas of their trade shows.
So, Iíd like to share with you the 25 most common trade show exhibiting
mistakes. Youíll see that they can all be filed into several different
categories, like pre-show, at-show, post-show, logistics, strategy, exhibits,
etc. Take advantage of these trade show resources to improve your results.
Not planning ahead.
Yes, weíre all really bust at the office with a lot of other things,
but if youíre not planning for your trade show 12-9-6-3 months
ahead, youíre setting yourself & company up for failure.
If youíre looking to save $5, $20, $200 here and there, youíre
focusing on the price of things, rather than the investment of your
show display. Those extra bucks for the nicer carpet, the extra
plants or the better looking display will add to the experience of
your attendees and set your company apart from others.
No Pre-Show Marketing.
If you donít tell anyone that youíll be at the show, how can you
expect to have a lot of people stop by your booth space? No one has
time to wander around these days. Theyíre coming prepared to see who
they want to see. Give people a good reason to stop by your booth
space and invest in those e-mails, post cards & promos to intrigue
their interest ahead of time.
Have you ever seen a billboard on the highway with a bunch of copy?
Itís hard to read, right? Same with trade show displays. Make sure
your graphics quickly tell who you are, what you do and how you can
Failure to Follow-up on Leads.
I know youíve heard (from CEIR.org) that 79% of leads are not
follow-up after a show. Shocking. Donít be one of those companies.
Create a closed-loop system, before you go to the show, to make sure
no leads fall through the cracks.
No Post-Show Marketing.
Just like not following up on leads, a lot of people fail to
continue marketing after the show. Those B & C leads should still
receive contact from you to be nurtured into the A, sales-ready
leads, at some point.
Ever had an old car? Itís a pain, right? Things break down and just
donít work right anymore. Same thing with a St. Louis Trade Show
Display. At some point, itís not telling the same story as it used
to and youíre probably losing out on opportunities. Time to get a
new show exhibit.
Remember all those trade show forms? You know they have deadlines.
Submit them early and youíve found an easy way to save some money.
Also, youíll have deadlines from your exhibit company for building
your display. Plan ahead and make them ó youíll avoid additional
expenses, like the need for expedited shipping.
Filling Out Forms Incorrectly.
Was it 10 watts, volts or amps you needed for your electrical drops?
Small detail, but if you get it wrong, itís a big expense to change
on the trade show floor. Even more if itís on a Saturday or Sunday.
Not Partnering with Professionals. Yeah, everyone knows a nephew or
friend who has Photoshop. That doesnít mean they know how to design
though! Itís the same thing for partnering with a professional, like
myself. Donít waste time on logistics and pinching pennies, letís
work together to have your best show ever!.
Failure to Measure Results.
In a court of law, you need evidence to win a case. So when you get
back from the show, how can you show others and yourself whether or
not it was a success? You need to measure results. Hereís another
post that will help you measure trade show results.
Exhibiting in the Wrong Booth Size.
When you have Thanksgiving dinner with 12 people at a table for 6,
itís crowded and uncomfortable. Youíve probably noticed this in a
booth that was too small. At other shows, perhaps a regional show,
you might find that traffic isnít too busy, so perhaps you can down
size the next year.
No Staff Training
If we all didnít need constant & consistent training in our lives,
baseball players wouldnít take batting practice before their games.
You need to train booth staffers before each show. Yes, even the
Sending the Wrong Staffers.
Send the new guy to the trade show, I hear it all the time. And, let
me tell you, itís a bad idea. The clock is against us at trade
shows. So we need people who are experienced in the process, are
focused on success & know how to show & display.
Failure to Research Your Target
Do you know what percentage of CEOs, directors and managers will be
at the show? You might communicate to each of them in a different
way and you need to be prepared & flexible.
Going to the Wrong Show.
How do you know theyíll be at the show? Because you went last year?
Look how quickly technology changes. The trends in industries can
change as quickly, so you need to be sure youíre at the right shows.
That might mean exhibiting at different shows than you did in the
Have you seen the movie ďGlengarry Glen RossĒ? Your sales team might
complain about the lack of or quality of leads. Your marketing team
is probably complaining about the sales team being lazy and not
following up on leads. Stop fighting and work together. It takes a
leader and a plan, but a well-oiled trade show team, with the gap
bridged between sales & marketing, will be very successful at trade
Not Leveraging Technology.
Technology is pretty cheap these days. You can buy an LCD monitor
for nearly the same price as renting from the show. Everything is
free on the internet, like social media. Everyone has a camera.
Embrace some form of technology and use it to connect with prospects
at trade shows & enhance your booth space.
Forgetting About Social Media.
How many people are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube,
etc.? Who knows these days, but itís a lot. Everyone has at least
one of these accounts and theyíll be at the show. Take pictures
around the show & in your booth and tweet them. Take a short video
and post it on YouTube. Your trade show experience will live long
after the show and continue to promote your company.
Underestimating Your Prospective
Theyíre coming to the show prepared, with knowledge. Theyíve
done research, online, before the show and they know who they want
to see at the show. You better be one of them and you better be
prepared. Get on their dance card!
Not Having a Plan ďBĒ.
What are you going to do if your display doesnít show up? One of
your booth staffers get the flu, what should you do? Your exhibit is
out of regulation, whatís next? Youíd better have a back-up plan for
all of these situations and more!
Getting Hung Up on Failures.
So that give-away didnít work out. You didnít have a chance to
connect with that huge prospect. Letís get over it, plan for the
next show and do better next time.
Stop talking! Starting asking good questions and let your
prospective customer do the talking. Then listen!
Not Taking Notes.
Donít rely on badge scanners. Typically youíre just receiving
contact information, not much more. Record notes either by writing
them down or using a better technology. This is an important step to
help you quickly qualify prospects and follow-up quickly afterwards.
Forgetting to Celebrate Success!
Yes, you put a lot of work into your trade show. Once youíve
measured results after the show, you can see all the objectives that
you achieved for your company. Now, go celebrate with a lunch or a
special purchase for yourself. You deserve it!
© 2014 by Michael Flavin