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  • Maximizing Your Investment ,The Basics | Aug 09, 2023
  • Write by Author Name
  • Maximizing Your Investment ,The Basics | Aug 09, 2023

10 Common Trade Show Mistakes to Avoid

Setting up an exhibit booth at a trade show is a lot of work, and you want to ensure that your efforts are well worth it. Mistakes can cost you time, money, or customers, some of which happen often, even if they’re avoidable.

Although mistakes are inevitable, you can use this guide on 10 Common Trade Show Mistakes to Avoid as a safeguard. These are mistakes we’ve seen often during trade shows, and we can help you steer clear of them.

If you are looking for more trade show tips to assist with other exhibiting problems, feel free to visit our Trade Show Blog, where we regularly post new articles.

1. Not Doing Show Research

The first step towards setting up a trade show display that will attract visitors is understanding which shows are the best for your products or services. There are many to choose from, but not all are appropriate for you.

Unfortunately, many companies fail to do their due diligence when it comes to show research. Trade shows will generally provide an exhibitor prospectus that breaks down attendee demographics, purchasing power, trade show attendees by job title, and more. It would be wise to examine all those details before making a decision.

2. Failing to Set Goals

Another common trade show mistake is failing to set goals for your exhibit. You must understand what you hope to achieve by exhibiting your product or service. Do you want to make sales? Increase brand awareness? Get media exposure? Once you’ve established your goals, you can create a booth and marketing strategy focused on achieving them.

3. Not Promoting Your Exhibit

After you have registered for a show and set your goals, it is important to start promoting your booth as early as possible. Make sure that potential customers are aware of your presence at the show and that they know how to find you.

There are many ways to promote your booths, such as email marketing, online ads, and social media. You can also work with the show organizers to see if they offer any promotional opportunities, like being featured in the show directory.

Your exhibit is a marketing investment, 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. Pre-Show email marketing can also contribute to increasing show traffic and the buzz surrounding your booth.

4. Forgetting to Set a Budget

Another common mistake! Trade shows are expensive, so have a clear understanding of how much money you are willing to spend.

Factor in the cost of booth space, design and construction, shipping, travel, and lodging, among others. Get quotes from different vendors, compare prices, and find the best deal.

You may also want to consider booth rental as an option. It’s a cost-effective way to exhibit, especially if you are new to trade shows or plan on exhibiting at only a few shows per year.

Having a rough estimate of your budget will also play a major role when soliciting bids from exhibit houses. Often, an exhibit house will not be willing to go beyond initial discussions without having a budget estimate to guide its design efforts.

Here is a useful (free!) budget worksheet to use as your guide.

5. Not Working with a Professional Exhibit House

Many companies try to save money by designing and building their booth in-house, but this is usually not the best idea.

Even with your goals in place, well-coordinated pre-show marketing efforts, and a target budget, you may still fall short of your expectations if you don’t have a powerful booth layout. When you outsource production to an exhibit house, they will be able to take your concepts and create a design and layout that meets, or even exceeds, your needs.

Not working with a professional booth builder can also lead to problems with the quality of your booth. This is especially true if you try to build it yourself or use lower-quality materials.

A professional exhibit house has the experience and expertise to fabricate a high-quality booth that will stand out from the competition. They will also be able to work within your budget without compromising your business goals.

6. Incorrect Booth Staffing

Booth Staffing is often one of the most overlooked exhibiting considerations. Anyone at your company can work your booth, right? Wrong.

The booth staff is the face of your company at the trade show, so it is critical to choose wisely. Select individuals who are outgoing, friendly, and knowledgeable about your products or services.

Ensure as well that your booth staff is properly trained. They should be well versed in trade show etiquette, like the appropriate manner of greeting visitors, starting a conversation, and collecting contact information.

Whether you hire models, actors, or even just bring the most personable people into the office, it will pay off to have talent that can attract, engage, and keep prospective clients in your space.

Booth staffing can make or break your trade show experience, so make time to select and train your people. 

7. Starting the Procurement Process Too Late

For inexperienced exhibitors, the hardest part of the procurement process is determining what too late is. As a general rule of thumb, it is good to begin the process roughly 24 weeks or more before the show.

This gives enough time for any contingencies that may arise, as well as the proper planning time needed to procure all the materials you want. The longer you wait, the more likely you will need to sacrifice some key components in order to hit your deadline.

It is also important not to wait too long to sign a booth contract. Space at trade shows is often sold on a first-come, first-served basis. If you wait too long, you may not be able to get the perfect location for your booth design.

This is one area where working with an exhibit house proves helpful. They usually assist with expediting the booth contract and getting your space reserved.

8. Not Planning for Lead Capture and Follow-Up

This is probably the most costly mistake you can make when participating in trade shows. If you don’t have a plan for collecting leads and following up with them after the show, then all your other efforts will have been for naught.

It’s quite easy to forget that the effects of the show don’t end at the convention center, and the number of companies that forget to follow up with leads post-show is astounding.

This mistake can take a big bite out of your ROI. Sit down with your team to create an automated email marketing strategy and a landing page SEO strategy before the event.

It is essential that every single prospective customer, vendor, or general attendee that stopped by your booth gets a thank-you mail, at the least. Your company’s level of involvement with lead distribution among reps, combined with high-quality follow-up content, will ultimately determine the number 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. Not doing so may cause you to 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 its potential to build lasting B2B relationships.

10. Lacking a Strategy for Determining Trade Show ROI

Last but not least on our list of the most common trade show mistakes is failing to establish a strategy for determining ROI. This is a critical step to ascertain whether or not your investment was worth it, and where you can improve moving forward.

There are several ways to go about measuring trade show ROI, but the key is to have a plan in place before the show even starts. It will ensure you are collecting the necessary data and making comparisons that will give you an accurate picture of your trade show booth’s performance.

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!

Make Your Next Trade Show A Success

Avoiding these common trade show mistakes will put you well on your way to exhibiting success. Metro Exhibits is here to help you with all of your trade show needs, from design and fabrication to logistics and installation.

The Metro Exhibits team has the experience and expertise to ensure that your booth makes a lasting impression and delivers real results. We partner with our clients to create unique, impactful, and successful trade show experiences that help them achieve their objectives and reach their target audiences.

We also offer custom booth design services, trade show booth design, custom booth rental, exhibit rental, trade show booth rental, and portable exhibits suitable to your specific needs and budget. Contact us today to get started!


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