4 Big Mistakes to Avoid in your Trade Show Display
Learning how to put together great expo displays doesn’t happen overnight. Generally, the people who put on the best trade show appearances are folks who’ve set up plenty of booths in the past. There’s a lot to learn, and no matter how well you prepare yourself ahead of time, chances are you’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way.
That’s just part of life, but a lot of these mistakes are still easily avoidable. Trade fairs and expositions have a long history, and there is plenty of collected wisdom on do’s and don’ts when you take your expo displays on the road.
So, we wanted to talk a bit about some common mishaps that occur, and how budding trade show exhibitors can avoid them!
Four Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make With Your Trade Show Display
1 – Uninformed/Underinformed Staff
If there is one gigantic mistake that even companies in the major league events continue to make, it is populating their trade show booths with people who cannot actually talk coherently about their offerings.
Sometimes they’re strangled by internal restrictions on what can be discussed. Other times, they are simply uninformed. Either way, it reflects very poorly on the company. These people are your voice, and your interface with the people at large. They need to be able to talk at length with people about the product or service on offering.
Plus, of course, there’s also the issue with how trade shows are turning away from booth babes, as increasing numbers of people object to them for a number of reasons.
Your trade show staff need enough real knowledge about your company and your products that they’ll be able to act as good spokespeople. At the same time, ensure they have lines of communication open so that they can quickly get answers to questions they don’t know. Never seem unprepared.
2 – No Message
An effective trade show display doesn’t exist simply for its own sake. Sure, a booth that does nothing but show your name and wares is better than nothing, but the really successful expo displays are the ones that go beyond that. They present a message beyond “please buy from us” so that they can connect with their visitors.
Much like crafting an ad campaign, try to have a larger vision for your trade show display. Highlight your “green” awareness, or show off how you’re integrating your products and services with modern technology. Use art design to add more content to the booth itself.
Visitors today need more reason to go to an expo display booth and visit with the staff. There are too many other things competing for their attention. Clear messaging that adds dimension to your company gives people new reason to stop in and chat!
3 – Lack of Supplies
We cannot stress this enough: you should plan to stock your trade show display with as many backups in place as you possibly can. Don’t let your booth get derailed by a ripped sign or another minor mishap. Make sure you have a trade show emergency kit, with basic tools, tape, light bulbs, extension cords and power strips, as well as standard office supplies that will let you do quick fixes on your booth or accessories as problems arise – and count on it, they will!
Similarly, no matter how many promotional items you think you’ll need – from brochures to DVDs to pens – bring more. You don’t want to get caught empty-handed! There are plenty of ways to bleed off excess promotional gimmicks over the course of the year, so don’t be too conservative with them in your trade show display planning.
The more prepared you are on the morning of your exposition, the better things will go throughout the day. Keep as much on-hand as you can, to minimize “down time” for the booth or the need to send interns on runs across town to find an Office Depot.
4 – Slow Followup
The last big mistake happens afterthe trade show: making contact with all the new leads you’ve made. This should be done, literally, as soon as is possible. If you still have the energy, start sending emails the evening after the expo wraps up. Don’t wait more than 24-48 business hours in any case.
You need those leads because they’re what justify the exposition display in the first place. You want to keep your sales team stocked with new people to reach out to, but that outreach probably begins with you. Anyone you and your staff conversed with needs a personal email, Facebook note, or phone call reminding them of your company.
After all, an exposition visitor gets bombarded with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of pitches in the space of not many hours. You need to act fast to ensure they remember you, and to get in before the deluge of everyone else doing the exact same thing.
A sad example; I’ve attended two shows in the last two months – Heli-Expo 2013 and Exhibitor 2013. Mind you, I’m not the typical prospect for a helicopter show 🙂 , but we’re the target customer for Exhibitor, which is a trade show for the trade show industry, showing larger corporate buyers and trade show distributors the new products that are available to offer our clients. It’s been over over a month now since both shows, and just over half of the exhibitors that we asked to contact us did so…and a couple of those didn’t bother until last week. It makes you wonder, why they bothered to attend the show at all.
Finally, a bonus tip – a recent CEIR report discussed on the TSNN website confirmed the result of a study they had previously done 10 years ago, looking at the ways that expo attendees recommend as the best way to get them to come to a show. No real surprise – attendees say that a personal contact or invitation, with time to plan, is the best way to get their attendance.
So, sort out your target audience. Invite them to the show, telling them what they will get out of visiting your booth and learning about your products and services. And then, FOLLOW UP!