Trade Show Booths – Bigger isn’t Always Better
Trade shows are a huge part of public relations for any size company. They are one of the few opportunities we get for in-person meetings with potential clients – so much marketing and branding these days happens on the web and on the phone, that an opportunity to meet a client in person is a valuable chance to create a relationship and make a good impression.
For this reason it is important to make sure the time and money you put into trade shows and your trade show exhibits is well spent, effective and not wasted on mistakes. Let me offer you a few DON’Ts, to try to help you leverage your trade show investments for the best possible ROI.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
The common mistake of trying to impress would-be clients with the size of your trade show booth space is one of the worst trade show mistakes one could make. Spending money and renting more floor space to simulate your office environment is just a huge waste.
What is important is integrity, honesty and personability – be sure to bring those with you! Big spaces and great looking trade show displays can be very effective, if used wisely, but “big” always costs more, so be sure it is the best use of your marketing dollars.
It’s Bad Not To Have Goals
When asked to state your goal for the trade show, I hope your answer is a little more substantial than “get more sales”. The trade show circuit should be just one facet of your total marketing plan. You are there to showcase the human element of your business, and it should be used as one of many tools to better serve your clients’ needs and desires.
Keep It Simple
Keep your graphics and text on your trade show displays simple and to the point. A cluttered confusing mess communicates exactly that – a cluttered confusing message. You want potential clients to meet with you and then leave with a sense of confidence in you and your organization, with a solid understanding of what you can do for them. You don’t want them to run away screaming and have night terrors – or make jokes – about your bad graphics decisions.
Giveaways or Throwaways
“Shwag” and baubles are fine, but they should be relevant to your company’s offerings and remind people of your company when they use your little gifts. Drug companies giving away pens that look like syringes is clever; software companies giving away mouse pads is clever and useful; data analysis company giving away combs, that’s just dumb. Again, be the one they remember for having something cool and relevant – not something dumb.
Staff Needs To Be Trained
Trade shows are a big deal and some of your most important clients and accounts will definitely make an appearance at them. Your booth staff should your best sales and PR people – this is not a practice field, it is the big leagues, and your stars should be on the field. This is critical – having a couple of bad apples at the show can completely derail all of the other things you did right…
Don’t Drop The Ball
Yes, another sports analogy, sorry but it’s true. After you make contact with potential clients and gather a lead you must follow up on that lead right after the trade show has ended. After all, it doesn’t mean anything until those deals are sealed and your bottom line gets fatter.
Keep It Clean
You and your company have spent a lot of time, money and effort to attend the trade shows; don’t screw it up by not sprucing up. You want your trade show displays and tables and general area to be as clean and well stocked on the last day, just like it all looked on the first day of the show. A little daily house cleaning can make a huge impression and a big difference.
Party Until You Get A Lead
Parties and socializing are part of the trade shows off hours activities. Don’t let the idea of an after-work drink fool you, you are still at work and should be working. The social element of trade shows can help you to meet new colleagues and schmooze old ones. Just keep the party aspect in check and remember, while at the show you are working 24/7.