5 Trade Show Exhibit Tactics That Don’t Work

Trade shows continue to be a great resource for networking, finding 40 x 40 trade show island display-resized-600leads and creating email lists. They are also great for creating interest in your brand. But, the times are changing, and some of the tactics used 10 to 20 years ago just don’t work anymore. The same is true of what we used to think was effective in marketing at trade shows.

1. Starting Out Too Big

It’s thought that big and flashy displays will draw people in, catch their interest, and create the impression of stability and strength. That’s not surprising when you consider everyone wants to believe they’re the big dog on the block. The truth of the matter, especially if you’re new to trade show marketing, is that an inline 10×10 trade show booth is plenty to start with. You need to learn which strategies really work best, including graphics and display configurations. Once you master those, you can consider investing in larger island exhibits!

It is also important to remember to pace yourself. Generally, organizations will participate in many trade shows a year. There’s a pecking order to these shows and you need to know which ones are more important than the others. Don’t go big at the secondary shows when you need to reserve some of that oomph for the more important shows. It’s a learning curve, so don’t start off trying to blow the competition away.

2. Not Going Large Enough

At the same time, don’t undersize! When it comes to size, the old school of thought is to match the square footage of your competitors. However, there is a better way to approach it. Decide what you want to accomplish and what you will need to do to achieve those goals, then design your trade show booth accordingly.10x10 perfect 10 trade show display

It’s true that the larger exhibits generally see more traffic than the smaller ones, but the increased traffic is more due to location than size. The bigger exhibits get placed closer to the entrances and along main aisles. If you plan ahead and register early, it’s possible to get a similar great location in a smaller booth.

The real advantage of the larger exhibits is the square footage. They allow more room for presentation, kiosks, storage and seating areas, product displays, overhead signage and large graphics. So if you are experienced and know what you’re doing and have the budget to sensibly afford it – you are going to need adequate space to create a trade show exhibit that will achieve your goals.

3. Pushing Useless Swag

Handing out takeaway items to visitors to your booth is a great idea, but be sure they are actually items people will want. It’s just a waste of your money if they’re only to throw them away, or not find them truly useful.

Outdated items to avoid handing out include:

1) Pens with your company name emblazoned along the size. They turn people off.

2) Logo pins. No one knows what to do with them

3) Squeeze stress balls. Their time has come and gone.

4) Cheap t-shirts. If you’re going to hand out t-shirts, spend some time and money on them. Quality designs make people actually want to wear them.

Useful Swag includes:

1) Smartphone covers

2) Keychain flashlights

3) Luggage tags

4. Simplistic, Undefined Goals

Too often exhibitors have the simple and naive goal of hosting a booth at a trade show to increase sales – and that’s it. That should be just the beginning of the goals involved. Most sales processes are fairly lengthy. By itself, “increasing sales” is too vague and general of a goal. Sales staff have no real numbers to work toward, and no time frames to work within.

If you’re not sure how to develop concrete goals around your trade show display, start with your company’s already existing marketing strategy and work out from there. Brainstorm goals that are more specific that can be incorporated in what you hope to accomplish at the trade show. Include your sales staff; pick their brains for the best ideas and how to make them quantifiable. Be sure these goals are capable to be met within predetermined time frames throughout the trade show.

In an effort to achieve these simplistic goals to increase sales, many inexperienced trade show exhibitors will try hard-selling by including too many elements to their booths and presentations, which actually looks like they lack specific sales goals.

This is easily overcome by communicating and thoroughly planning with your sales team. Take the time necessary to brainstorm ideas and then incorporate the specifics into how you layout your booth and the sales techniques you plan to use. The most effective trade show exhibits are the result of careful, detailed preparation.

5. Using “Booth Babes”

On first thought, it might seem that attractive female models are a good idea. Considering that the business world is still primarily made up of men, and therefore more men attend conventions than women. Plus it is human nature for men to be drawn to pretty women. And who doesn’t want every available advantage possible?

There are some significant concerns with booth babes of either gender, however, at least from a pragmatic standpoint. The following points are generally true:

1) Most models are poorly trained on the products they’re demonstrating. And that’s if they receive any training at all. She may be a model, but she is also supposed to be a salesperson, and there’s no point to using her if she doesn’t know anything about the product she’s selling.

2) The attraction of models is also a distraction. If the only thing a person remembers about your booth and display is that you had the prettiest girls on hand, they aren’t remembering your products.

3) And finally, many people, men and women, find it pandering to use women this way, even insulting.

When it comes to trade show exhibits, there are many tactics that will advance your cause. But due to time and changes in perception, not to mention increases in technology and knowledge, there are simply some practices that are outdated and no longer work. We’ve discussed trade show marketing tactics many times; do some homework and put together a great plan for your next show!

For more, learn how to breathe new life in your exhibits or how to promote your presence

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