Anecdotal Trade Show Booth Mistake

One persistent issue when preparing for a trade show is that of handouts. What a person takes away mentally from endless rows of trade show displays can sometime depend a lot on what they can take away physically. Flyers, offers, literature, or anything else on paper simply isn’t going to cut it.

A person can accumulate a hundred different pieces of paper at a trade show over the course of a weekend, and chances are a lot of it will end up going in the trash once they get home – or more likely, in the hotel trash can as they pack their bag to go home! In order to make an impression, a company must hand out something useful, something interesting. Something that will really make them unforgettable.connex xpressions tension fabric pop up display

A small educational DVD company preparing their first trade show exhibit a few years ago thought they had the perfect solution. They spent weeks designing their trade show displays, as well as creating and printing up thousands of flyers, brochures, company mission statements, etc. But they knew they needed something more eye-catching. So when a client of theirs returned their recent order of 300 DVD’s about how to use a GPS device, about a week before the trade show, they tried to turn their loss into a win.

300 also happened to be the number of people invited to the trade show. So the marketing team had the idea to hand out these DVD’s to the attendees, to show them firsthand the kind of quality products they produced. They spent two days designing a sticker to plaster on the front of each DVD box, with the company name, logo, and a clever slogan about GPS. Then they shipped the DVD’s, along with several hundred pounds of paper handouts, to the trade show.

Their trade show representative spent the weekend talking up the company, handing out business cards, and making connections wherever possible. The carefully designed and photocopied paper handouts were given out to everyone who came anywhere near the booth. But for some reason, no one seemed interested in the DVD’s. By the end of the weekend, out of 300 DVD’s, there were still over 200 left to be shipped back home.

Then in the ensuing weeks, the show was largely forgotten. The trade show displays were packed up and stored until the next show. The company got to work trying to follow up with some of the connections that had been made, only to find them less than enthusiastic. For all the work that had been put into preparing for the trade show, very little business actually came from it.

tension fabric waveline_arch-resized-600Then a few months later, the revelation came. While going through some of the leftover DVD’s to figure out what to do with them, the company discovered something: the reason the discs had been returned in the first place was because they were broken. Not one of them would actually play. And so the “firsthand display of their quality products” ended up sending another message entirely to potential clients.

So what DOES make a good handout for a trade show? Something small, and useful. Something a potential client can carry around with them. Pens, Post-Its, small, cheap gadgets and devices, like calculators or daily planners. Something they’ll get regular use out of. And that, whenever they use it, will be a pleasant reminder of the company that gave it to them. (and please, check to make sure you’re not giving away something thats broken or that will leave a bad memory!)

For more, check out our article on trade show gaffes to avoid and always remember that if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will.

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