The Seven Deadly Trade Show Sins That’ll Cost You Money

There are many things you can do that will interfere with getting the results you’re looking for from participating in trade shows. Some of them will even suck money out of your budget for which you’ll get little or no return. Here’s a list of seven of the most egregious trade show sins you may be guilty of, and how to avoid them.

1) Going without

avoid the 7 deadly sins of trade show marketing with an Eco Smart ECO-2034B trade show display

Want an Eco-friendly rental?

If you go to a show without stated objectives, you’ll accomplish exactly what you planned: nothing! What a sin.

Even if your objectives are simply to “increase sales” or “get more leads,” there’s a process behind making that happen. It just doesn’t occur magically when you show up.

At least attach a number to those goals (“Increase sales by 15%” or “Get 25 more leads”). It’s a good bet that what you want to accomplish on the trade show floor is more than just sales or leads. It probably aligns pretty well with your overall marketing goals. Put them in writing, get agreement from the team, then go to the show and get to work.

2) Money is the root of all evil

I know you can’t just go to a trade show and throw your corporate credit card at every problem. But if you’re constantly trying to save a few bucks on everything, you’ve got the wrong attitude.

Saving $50 or $100 here and there is keeping your focus on what you’re spending, rather than on the overall investment you’re making.

And chances are, a few hundred dollars saved isn’t going to amount to much in the long run. But spending a little extra for nicer carpet or padding, a few attractive plants and a professional looking trade show exhibit will put you a step ahead of other exhibitors and make your presence more memorable.

3) Wrong-sizing

“Right sizing” was a great buzzword for shrinking the ranks in corporate America. But you can “wrong size” your exhibit and sin, too. For example, you can go too big (taking a 20 x 20 foot booth space at all the shows you attend) and waste tons of money when a 10 x 10 trade show booth would have done just as well at many of those shows.

On the other hand, if you go too small, you might just disappear along the aisles or in back corners of the exhibit hall. Bigger trade show booths can include presentation areas, product displays, conference rooms and other niceties that just don’t work as well with less real estate.

So how do you find the right size for your company’s trade show exhibit? Think about this: match what your competitors are doing, and you should end up not too big, not too small, but just right.

4) Sending the wrong people

I’m not suggesting that the people you send to a trade show are inherently bad; they’re just wrong for the job you need them to do. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard clients say, “We’ll send the new guy. That’ll get him up to speed.” What a lousy idea!Custom with Lightweight Recycled Aluminum Frame, LED Backlighting, and iPad Mounts on Backlit Counter

Would you send the new guy on a sales call? Of course not.

But that’s what working the show floor is: an ongoing sales call. Your booth staffers are forever sizing up visitors, sensing if they might be prospects, asking well-thought-out questions and trying to close. The new guy is the wrong guy for that. Always. Avoid this sin as much as all the others.

5) Going without, part two

Earlier in this article, I talked about the trade show sin of going to a show without a plan. Now I want to talk about the sin of going to a show without a “Plan B.” What will you do if your trade show exhibit (or some element of it) doesn’t show up? What happens if your literature is lost in transit? If the flu goes around your office the week before the show, what’s your back-up plan?

A smart trade show manager prepares for the unexpected, the “just in case,” and the “what if.” When you begin planning for the show, plan for things to go wrong. Why? They always do. And you’ve only got one shot at making your show a success.

6) Premiums without a purpose

There’s a place in the trade show world for premiums. But using them just for the sake of having something to give away is sinful. That simply doesn’t make sense.

If at all possible, find a premium that aligns with your product or service, or supports your brand. Pens, Frisbees and water bottles don’t relate to anything (and who really needs another one?), so don’t use them.

You might also want to think about two types of premiums: a simple, inexpensive one that most people get as a “thank you” for stopping by, and one you give to your customers and most valuable prospects, that’s meant to show how serious you are about serving them.

7) Ignoring your surroundings

Practically within arm’s reach, there are companies and individuals that could be great partners or networking contacts. But if you go to a show with the idea that you’re only there to pitch your product, you’ll miss the chance to walk the aisles, check out what your competitors are doing, and look around for new ideas. That’s sinful.

Don’t forget that trade shows can be a great place to meet potential new employees, as well. Get out of your own exhibit and see what else is happening around you. You’ll be glad you did.

Avoid these deadly trade show sins and make your exhibit a showstopper at your next trade show. With products from American Image Displays, from lighting kits and literature racks to compelling graphics and even completely custom exhibits, you can ensure you’ll stand out on the show floor. Let us show you how. Call us at (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected]. 

For more, check out how to pick the right trade shows or how to select trade show supplies.