Trade Show Booths: Frequently Made Mistakes

Falling into traps that doom the success of a trade show display from the start can happen to anyone whether they are a first time exhibitor or long term trade show veteran. A trade show is intended to increase business so it is a serious disaster if the event ends up costing the company. Knowing the most frequently made mistakes is the first step in avoiding problems.

Renting the Wrong Sized Trade Show Booth

Businesses who rent a booth that is too big end up spending more and do not in fact receive more traffic. Many clients find a smaller, more intimate space more comfortable. Some companies who attend multiple trade shows a year choose to save money by renting a small space at some shows while designating others to be their main shows and rent a larger space to make a bigger impact.

Similarly, a booth that is too small ends up becoming cramped with staff, banner stands and graphics. Smaller trade show stands are usually placed away from the center of the room, entrance and main aisles resulting in fewer visits. Also, a small space that is very crowded is less aesthetically pleasing, which again impacts traffic.

Lack of Clear Goals

Companies who attend trade shows with no clearer aim than increasing sales or generating more leads are apt for failure. It is essential to have a clear goal for the outcome of a trade show display in order to best market for this aim. This involves designing graphics, banner stands and trade show exhibits appropriately.

It is best to solicit the help of a trade show planning professional to achieve the best design for a display. A professional will know best how to design graphics and the banner stand in order to achieve the business’s goal, to catch the attention of the public and to make the booth attractive. A professional can also help eliminate the possibility of a badly designed trade show booth, or poorly designed trade show graphics or displays.

Untrained Staff

Companies who are new to trade shows or want to deploy the help of new staff must ensure their employees know how to behave. The role of the staff may seem obvious but simply knowing about the products or services is not enough. Everyone on the team must know exactly what is expected of them and be ready to answer even the most difficult questions.

dm_0663_main-resized-600Staff who are unprepared end up losing business for the company. A day of training, even for staff who have attended trade shows before, is necessary in order to prepare. Staff need to be aware of the importance of listening to potential customers rather than just making their sales pitch.


A successful trade show exhibit will not result from simply turning up on the day with graphics and banner stands in hand. Trade shows require a large amount of prior preparation, the most important of which is pre-show marketing and promotion. Current customers need to be informed about the show either through well designed direct mail or email teaser.

If possible, it helps to advertise attendance at the trade show through a public relations firm. Other ideas include press releases, show sponsorships or advertising on the webpage of the trade show. The extent this can be done to depends on the budget of the company and the importance of the individual trade show but at least some type of pre-show marketing is essential.

For more, look at our article on trade show mistakes or our list of “don’ts”.

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