7 Trade Show Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
Trade shows are no doubt action-packed and exciting events. However, for exhibitors, they are not a cakewalk and require a lot of planning and work. The success of your company in the years to come may largely depend on your achievements through trade show marketing. Despite this, not all exhibitors are able to attain their goals. It’s all because they make some serious mistakes in the process of planning and preparing for a trade show. Having analyzed the experience of many companies we formulated 7 main trade show marketing mistakes to avoid when exhibiting.
1. You didn’t do your homework
When you go to a job interview, do you prepare for it? Do you collect all the available information about an employer company, potential position, industry that a company operates in, etc.? Why should exhibiting be any different? When choosing which trade show to participate you should also collect data on the location of a show, how many exhibitors and visitors attend it, what type of companies exhibiting, and any demographic data you can obtain on visitors. Do not hesitate to request this information from trade show organizers.
To get a firsthand perspective you can go to a show yourself as an attendee. If visiting in person is not possible talking to current or past exhibitors will help. Sometimes organizers can ‘embellish’ some data so getting information from people that have actually marketed at this event can be enlightening to say the least. Ask them if they liked this event, how everything was organized, whether there were enough visitors and other exhibitors. All this valuable data will allow you to make an educated decision on a trade show being a correct fit for your company.
2. Lack of pre-planning
So, you have chosen a show suitable for your company. Now, it’s time to determine what exactly you want to achieve by exhibiting. You must clearly define your goals and make a plan on how you are going to obtain them.
Among the most popular goals of exhibiting at trade shows are marketing of new products or services, expansion of the client base, promotion of brand recognition, search for new partners and investors, expansion into new markets, study of competitors, etc. As you can see, the goals can be completely divergent and therefore they are obtained with different methods. For example, if you are introducing a new product or service to the market it is a good idea to have a trade show booth constructed with a wow factor to it. Your ultimate goal here is a display that catches the attention of visitors and sucks them in as they walk through the exhibit hall.
Don’t forget to promote your attendance before the show if you want to get as many eyes on your display as possible. You can use your website, social media platforms, email blasts, and whatever works for you to market prior to the show. During an event you can attract attention by running contests or other promotional activities.
If you are looking to test the waters out and gain insight on the show competitors then it is wise to have contrasting marketing methods and probably a more modest display. In this case your main goal is data collecting on the attendees and competing exhibitors.
Regardless of what your trade show marketing goals are the general rule is that you need to preplan to ensure success of your venue.
3. Over Spending
It’s not a secret that exhibiting can be costly. Of course, there are large brands with huge budgets for marketing campaigns that can afford to splurge. However, not every brand can allow this lavish type of spending. And even if your company could it doesn’t mean you should. Therefore, you need to have realistic expectations from your marketing efforts.
It never hurts to profess a reasonable approach and keep a keen eye on your marketing budget. Most companies think the more money they throw at something the better the results. However, this is not necessary true in trade show marketing. Exhibiting is more about being creative in drawing attention to your display but you can do this in a way that doesn’t blow the budget. There are ways to keep costs down such as display renting options versus buying. Also, don’t go crazy with over spending on marketing materials and promotional items.
4. Your Display
Imagine that you are an attendee. You came to a trade show and you are open to visiting any display comes your way. But there are hundreds of exhibits on a show floor, which one to choose? Most people would be instinctively attracted to appealing booths that caught their eyes. Therefore, if your company presents a dull, outdated or dingy display you will certainly suffer from a lack of interest. But having an attractive piece is not necessarily enough.
A great exhibit must act as a storefront for your company, tell visitors who you are, what you do, and clearly communicate your message to the audience. Your brand ought to be reflected in the booth design in such a way that it forms a positive long lasting impression on attendees.
If you plan on purchasing a trade show display, regardless of its type (portable, modular or custom) you need to think about future exhibitions you are going to attend. Make sure that you are not locked in to a display that can’t adjust with your needs for the next events.
5. Insufficient or poorly trained staff
While entering your display visitors may be wowed by outstanding design of your piece and the products you showcase. They also could be brought in by some promotion, giveaways or booth entertainment that you have possibly ordered. But all these efforts and expenses will be for nothing if your employees are not properly trained on how to greet and lead the conversation.
First of all, your staff members have to be social and engaging. On top of that, people who represent your company should have a well-groomed and neat appearance. You need to take care of creating some kind of branded apparel so that attendees know whom to approach if they have questions.
A poorly trained and staffed booth will reflect negatively on ROI and leave an overall bad impression in potential client’s minds. So take time to make a plan on who will staff your booth and the message you want them to convey.
6. No promotion
One of the biggest trade show marketing mistakes you can make as an exhibitor is investing in a display, staffing it with personnel, arranging product samples, etc., but not inviting the public. The show without viewers is doomed to failure. You have to take care of attracting people long before venue starts. Analyze where your target audience is concentrated and try to advertise the event through suitable channels of communication. During a trade show you cannot be idle either hoping that attendees will notice your display and come to check it. People need a push, a conviction that your booth is exactly what they came for. Use advertising banners, flyers, raffles, presentations, etc., everything that will help create an excitement around your exhibit and drive potential clients in.
7. Lack of follow up after show
So the show is over, but it does not mean that your marketing campaign also came to an end. While exhibiting you must collect a multitude of business cards, contact information of potential partners, maybe even you get to form an email base of those who showed interested in your products. But what’s next? You must use this information. Your main mistake would be not turning leads into customers.
While trade show attendees still have fresh memories of your company you ought to contact them. If you are marketing towards business you should try to arrange a meeting with the decision makers to validate their true interests in your products and services. If these valuable leads are not followed up on in a timely manner then you can consider that all your marketing efforts went down the drain. So was it worth spending so much efforts and money and get nothing? We don’t think so. That’s why an after show follow-up is a must.
We hope our article was informative for you. If you are in search of a great trade show display we are here to help. Exhibe has been in business for more than 35 years which allows us to craft engaging booths and graphics for any marketing event and budget. So contact us today and we are sure to deliver an eye-catching piece for your needs.