Although mistakes are inevitable, you can use our 10 Common Trade Show Mistakes to Avoid as a safeguard going forward. These are the most common mistakes that we witness on a daily basis, but if you are looking for more trade show tips to assist with other exhibiting problems, feel free to visit our Trade Show Blog.
1. Not Doing Show Research:
As far-fetched as this may sound, many companies fail to do their due-diligence when it comes to show research. All shows will provide with you with an exhibitor prospectus that breaks down attendee demographics, purchasing power, trade show attendees by job title, and much more. This information in conjunction with other qualitative knowledge should be the criteria in your decision making process, not just simply because your competitors are there.
2. Forgetting to Set Goals:
Another common trade show mistake is forgetting to set goals for your exhibiting efforts. Not setting exhibit goals is the equivalent of a football team snapping the ball without calling a play. If you don’t know your plan of attack going in, how can you expect your talent to communicate a synergistic message? The answer is you can’t. Whether your goal is to close x amount in sales derived from the show, generate y amount of new leads, or even to connect with existing clients, it needs to be determined before you get to the show. Ideally, goals should be solidified before you begin your pre-show marketing efforts, which leads me into the next point.
3. Not Raising Awareness Pre-Show:
You wouldn’t host a fund-raiser without getting the word out, so why would you exhibit without doing so. Despite the frivolous nature of this point, it is surprising as to how many companies do not market enough or at all pre-show. Your exhibit is a marketing investment just like any other, so don’t let it go to waste by not spreading the word. Reaching out to your current customer base, prospective clients, and even vendors beforehand will help increase your return on investment significantly. Also, don’t forget to utilize the powers of social media to raise awareness about your participation in the show(s). Pre-Show email marketing can also make a large contribution to increasing show traffic and buzz surrounding your booth.
4. Always set a budget prior to show:
Although this isn’t as much of a “requirement” as the others, it is of equal importance. Take the time to do your research, determine what you should be spending for the design and display you want, and set a budget. This will help you keep on pace and informed when making key decisions. Having this rough estimate of a budget will also play a major role when soliciting bids from exhibit houses. Often, exhibit house will not be willing to go beyond initial discussions without having a budget estimate to guide their design efforts.
5. Booth Layout:
Even with your goals in place, your pre-show marketing efforts coordinated, and a target budget you still may fall short of your expectations if you don’t have a powerful booth layout. If you are outsourcing production to an exhibit house, they will usually be able to take your concepts and create a design and layout that will easily meet or exceed your needs. However, if you choose to keep production in-house, there are many factors to consider when laying out your booth. Be sure to keep in mind where entrances are, where general meeting areas are located, where foot traffic generally flows, and your location in relation to your competitors. Your furniture positioning, hanging signs, wall height, and open space are also major considerations when creating a customer friendly design.
6. Booth Staffing:
Booth Staffing is often one of the most overlooked exhibiting considerations. Anyone at your company can work your booth, right? Wrong. You wouldn’t send a rookie salesman to close a multi-million dollar contract, and this approach should hold steady on the exhibit floor. Experience is a great thing, but pairing that with appeal is the key to success on the trade show floor. Whether you hire models, actors, or even just bring the most personable people in the office, it will pay off to have talent that can attract and keep prospective clients at your space. Make sure that above all else, the staff has sufficient knowledge of what you are selling, or your prospective customers will be turned off from the start. This topic is covered in greater depth in our Trade Show Booth Staffing article.
7. Starting the Procurement Process Too Late:
The hardest part of the procurement process for inexperienced exhibitors is determining what too late is. As a general rule of thumb, it is good to begin the process roughly 24 weeks or more from the show. This gives enough time for any contingencies that may arise, as well as the proper planning time needed to procure all of the materials the way you want them. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to have to sacrifice some key components in order to hit your deadline.
8. Distribution of Show Leads:
It is easy to forget that the effects of the show don’t end at the convention center. The amount of companies that forget to follow-up with leads post-show is astounding, and it takes a devastating bite out of your ROI. Digital marketing agencies, such as Ecrease, suggest to sit down with your team to create an automated email marketing strategy and a landing page SEO strategy after the event. It is essential that every single prospective customer, vendor, or general attendee that stopped by your booth gets at the least a thank-you follow up. Your company’s level of involvement with lead distribution among reps and high-quality follow-up content will ultimately determine the level of new sales you receive from the event.
9. Not Reviewing the Exhibitor List for Potential Prospects:
With so much going on in preparation for a show, it is often easy to forget to scan the exhibitor prospectus thoroughly. In doing so, you may miss out on some of the best potential relationships there, other companies. Be sure to read through the exhibitor list, determine which companies could be potential clients or important vendors, do your research, and have your talent visit them during the show. This is an understated process in terms of the potential to build lasting B2B relationships.
10. Lacking a Strategy for Determining Trade Show ROI:
What are your metrics? How do you plan to measure your performance at the event? What do you need to sell in order to “break even” on this event? If you can’t answer these questions, you should start structuring your return on investment analysis plan. It is important that you can prove to upper-management that the event had sufficient returns. If you don’t know how you plan to measure them before the show opens, it’ll be awfully hard to piece together that report after the show. Don’t let this common trade show mistake get you in hot water!