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11 Critical Trade Show Mistakes Exhibitors Must Avoid
July 1, 2018

11 Critical Trade Show Mistakes Exhibitors Must Avoid

It’s very common for many businesses to focus on enhancing their sales prospects by appearing at various industry niche trade shows and exhibitions.

This helps to generate sales leads and also gain a lot of potential customers interested in the company and the products or services they have to offer.

However, there are numerous instances where companies find it difficult to achieve the results they’re looking for due to making some very common, critical trade show mistakes.

Here’s a detailed discussion of those trade show mistakes that you should try to avoid in order to obtain a better return and greater success:

Creating a low quality exhibition stand

Your company’s exhibition stand plays a critical role in ensuring your success at the trade show.

Since it helps to create a first impression of your business, you should choose a stand design that is vibrant, fun and smartly communicates the central message of your brand.

There’s no point cutting corners on expenses or coming up with a display design that is poor quality or cheap looking.

Your display should clearly state what your business is about and the nature of the products and services that you have to offer.

Your trade show display should be impressive and openly encourage visitors to come forward and speak with your team or staff members without hesitation.

Having no clear goals

Before you appear at a trade show, it’s important that you have a clear goal as to what you want to achieve with your exhibition attendance.

This will help you to devise a yardstick that you can measure your success against.

Do not fall into the trap of simply thinking your appearance alone is going to work wonders for you, as you will be sorely disappointed.

Motivate and inspire your exhibition sales team by creating challenging yet realistic goals such as achieving a set number of new leads per day, networking with potential new business partners or selling a set number of units of your products.

By having a clear idea as to what you want to achieve, you can effectively quantify your results and know how much closer you are to your goals.

More importantly, you will discover the areas that you need to improve on.

Ineffective use of social media

Without using social media in a smart and dynamic way, you cannot realistically hope to achieve success with your trade show exhibition.

You should promote your business across social media and make it abundantly clear that your company is appearing at the event.

Make sure you post updates on a regular basis and engage in discussion when you get responses.

This will naturally attract the attention of your following who could be persuaded to attend the event and visit your exhibition stand.

By utilising all of your company’s social media accounts during the event, you can generate a powerful response from your existing followers and gain new followers and customers along the way.

This will help you to underscore your position as a market leader within your industry.

Motivated Sales Team
A Motivated Knowledgeable Exhibition Sales Team Will Always Outperform One That’s Ill-Prepared

Having the wrong personnel on your stand

Your trade show success will hugely depend on the personnel you assign to represent your business. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that a trade fair only requires someone to pose as a statue that literally hands out cards and little else. The personnel you choose must have an in-depth knowledge of your company’s products and services, and be passionate about them to effectively pitch them would-be customers.

It is critical they have the confidence to approach trade show attendees to pull them in and have the conviction to answer any queries your potential customers may have. It is not uncommon to find many unprepared personnel tripped up by difficult questions that lead to a very disillusioned and disappointed sales prospect.

Your sales team must have the ability to open up positive dialogue and ultimately, set up future appointments at the conclusion of the discussions. Any hesitation or unknowing could see a potential paying customer walk away.

Face-to-face discussions allow your company to meet potential clients directly in a rare situation where they are actively buying. Don’t let it go to waste. This may be your one and only opportunity to develop long standing relationships with them, so make it count.

Therefore, always take your best sales team along to the trade show to represent your business – never administrative employees or temporarily hired staff.

Like this article? Then try reading: 19 Actionable Trade Show Success Tips

Not understanding your demographic

Every trade show attracts a different demographic and it’s not uncommon for exhibitors to make the critical mistake of not fully understanding which age group, gender, income bracket or buying habits attendees fall into.

Your exhibition stand and sales team needs to be completely geared towards the demographic of the attendees to maximise effectiveness.

So make sure your exhibition stand design aligns with their attitudes towards your niche industry and reflects your brand in a positive light.

Likewise, make sure your sales team has the ability to connect and engage with attendees and will have lots in common.

Most exhibition attendees makes judgments on exhibition stands in a matter of seconds, so if you get this critical area wrong, all your efforts could come to nothing.

Incorrect use of direct mail

One of the most effective ways to raise awareness of your trade show appearance is to use direct mail, whether email or post, to let past or present customers know about your upcoming plans.

Statistics show time and again that direct mail is far from dead and is still a highly effective promotional tool.

Whether you use bulk email tools like MailChimp or Constant Contact, or traditional mail via postcards or multi-piece mailings, you can use direct mail to invite your customers to visit your stand at the upcoming trade show.

Direct mail can also be used for targeted marketing that can result in great lead generation and sales conversions.

Aggressive Salesman with Banana
Aggressive Overly-Pushy Sales Techniques Will Turn Off Exhibition Stand Visitors

Overly aggressive pitches or presentation techniques

It’s not uncommon to find many trade show exhibitors using overly aggressive or pushy techniques to grab the attention of attendees which invariably, can lead to a negative response.

If you find yourself trying to force the issue or impose yourself on a trade show attendee, you’ve already lost the battle.

Whilst it’s true that you cannot afford to remain completely inactive or passive during the event, you need to strike the right balance.

As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, so there are a number of other subtle ways by which you can get attendees interested in talking to you.

A great way to grab someone’s attention and keep it is to make use of interactive demonstrations that can make your pitch or presentation more interesting and informative.

You could encourage people to participate in a game, a competition or give away free gifts.

If you do plan on offering gifts, make sure you offer people something they will find useful instead of handing them the typical throw away junk such as pens, mouse mats or key chains.

Gifts such as these end up in the trash as fast as you handed them out or worse, scattered across the exhibition hall floors which could be a disaster for your image and reputation.

An interactive game has been found to generate far better responses compared to free gifts, as it allows you plenty of opportunity to talk to your potential customers and gather their all important details to follow up with later on.

Inability to Differentiate

A large percentage of exhibitors are just happy to be a part of the crowd.

However, if you want actively buying attendees to notice you, it’s important that you stand out from the competition.

The success of an exhibition stand greatly hinges on whether visitors consider you display to be memorable or not.

If possible, try to find ways to differentiate yourself from the herd so that you make a strong impression in the eyes of buying would-be clients.

Ineffective Use of Press Relations

Public relations is considered to be one of the most cost effective methods for producing a large number of sales inquiries.

Prior to the trade show commencing, ask the show management to supply you with a comprehensive media list to see which publications are planning to write features about the trade show.

Then identify publications that may be interested in your offering and approach them with a newsworthy press release focusing on your products or services, as well as future plans.

If there’s one thing the press love, it’s content that’s already been written for them and is hassle free.

This is a great way to build relations for the future and could be a gateway to a mutually beneficial relationship.

As well as outreach, compile some smartly prepared press kits to hand out to press officers.

Provide them with information about any important announcements you have, as well as insightful industry trends, new technologies or statistics that may help them write a better piece in their publication.

Lack of Incentive to Visit Your Stand

Always give trade show attendees a good reason to visit your stand.

In most cases, visitors are faced with a hall full of products and services that at times, can all look the same.

Many may be short on time to make a decision, so make it for them.

Provide strong incentives to be attracted to your stand and spend more time in your presence, so show them something new, innovative or exciting that will create a buzz.

That buzz will attract people and the more people that are present on your stand, the more interest will gather.

Empty stands mean zero business, so if you gain that all-important momentum, don’t let it go to waste.

Make sure you maintain it and keep visitor levels flowing.

Failure to follow up

Once the trade show is over, you should immediately get in touch with your best sales leads so they remain interested in what you have to offer.

It almost seems inconceivable, yet a recent survey conducted by Salesforce found that 80% of exhibitors failed to follow up on leads at major trade shows. That’s a staggering statistic!

If you fail to follow up in a timely manner, your trade show efforts will never produce the results you would expect.

So before you attend the trade show, make sure that you have systems in place to log and gather customer data so that your sales team can easily filter the data and know which leads are best to follow up in order of preference.

This could take the form of a simple spreadsheet you keep to hand on a laptop or tablet.

Filtered columns can detail basic info such as name, company and contact information.

But you could also score leads on a simple points-based scale and detail which product or service they are most interested in.

If your exhibitions team are fortunate enough to set an appointment date during the event, make sure you record a complete log of this, so that your team knows this lead is warm and must never be allowed to go cold.

Doug Ramsey

Doug is the Operations Director at Rock Solid Exhibitions. When he is not busy penning new blog posts for the company website, he is heavily involved in the design and build of numerous client exhibition stands at trade shows all over the UK and across Europe. Doug is passionate about delivering incredible exhibition booths to businesses of all sizes and loves to offer insight and opinion on our blog using his extensive experience within the industry. To find out more from Doug or to discuss an exhibition stand design, contact us on 01483 338978, email us or follow us on social media.