Exhibit Studio Blog

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Think Trade Shows Don’t Work? 7 Things You Are Doing Wrong

Posted Topics: Trade Show Strategy, Trade Show Budgets, Knowledge Base, Graphic Design |

If you’ve tried exhibiting before and you’ve decided that they just don’t do what everyone says they do—generate new leads and sales, create brand awareness, reach new audiences, make better business connections—then you are doing something wrong. You might be guilty of one or more of these seven trade show fails:

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  1. NOT TRAINING YOUR STAFF TO EXHIBIT PROPERLY

    The people staffing your trade show booth (yourself included) may or may not be salespeople. And even if they are, that doesn’t mean they know how to be a successful exhibitor. You need to train them well before they head down to the show, and brief them again each day the show opens. Amongst other things, they need to know what your specific exhibiting goals are, the nature of each show’s audience, and they need to know everything about the product or service you’re selling. Most importantly, they need to know how to engage and disengage with show goers—leading questions and closing questions!

    Would you go to a dog show with an untrained dog?
    —–
  2. FAILING TO CAPTURE LEADS EFFECTIVELY

    Have you done your research on how to capture leads at a show? Are you up to date on what software and hardware options are available for lead capture, and are you using it? The days of a fishbowl for business cards are long gone. Even lead capture cards are going the way of the dinosaur. There is so much more information available on your leads that can be seamlessly and efficiently captured with today’s software and hardware options. If you’re not using it, you’re missing out.

    Here's what a business card tells you about your leads: Nothing. Zip. Nada.
    —–
  3. DROPPING THE BALL ON NEW LEADS (FIGURATIVELY…)

    There isn’t much point in going to a show, gaining a bunch of new leads, and then not following up with them. Yes, it’s hard. Everyone is tired after a few days of exhibiting, and they’ve all got a mountain of work to catch up with that they missed during the show. But if you skip follow-ups, or wait too long, you’re missing the best opportunity you have with those leads. Schedule follow-up time months before you even go to the show to ensure there are blocks of time available during the week immediately after the show in which to make follow-up calls.

    Dropped the ball? No worries, your competition picked it up.
    —–
  4. NOT MANAGING YOUR TRADE SHOW STRATEGY

    To be an effective exhibitor, you need to have a sound trade show strategy in place, and you need to manage it on a regular basis. Your strategy needs to be updated at a minimum of once each year, and you need to customize it based on the shows in your schedule. A good strategy will help you choose the best shows, the best exhibiting spaces and display materials, and help you meet both your goals and your budget, as well as keep you on schedule. If you don’t have a trade show strategy in place, or you’re not updating it, you’re not set up for success!

    What's the plan, coach?
    —–
  5. SPREADING YOUR BUDGET TOO THIN

    Exhibiting can be expensive, and there are a lot of components involved—the number of shows you want to attend, the cost of the booth space, displays, show services, giveaways, staffing, travel & accommodations, the list goes on. Unless you’ve got an unlimited budget (you do? great, call me…) then you need to balance your spending. If you attend mediocre shows, and book the “just okay” booth spaces, and your display is “good enough” you probably won’t find exhibiting to be very successful. Start with one or two components and make them the best they can be, put the budget for the other components into a future year’s budget!

    Don't spread your (butter) budget too thin, Bilbo.
    —–
  6. CHOOSING THE WRONG DISPLAY & GRAPHICS

    If your shows are geographically spread out, don’t choose a display that’s heavy to ship. If you have different staff handling the setup at different events, don’t choose a display with complex hardware. Do your research and talk to the experts (like us!) when it comes to your display system, to be sure you’re getting the right solution for your individual needs. And when it’s time to design your graphics, make sure you’re working with an expert trade show display designer (like me, or my buddy Paolo) because an ineffective design means an ineffective exhibit.

    Choose a display logically, not by chance.
    —–
  7. GOING STALE

    If you’ve been exhibiting for years and you just don’t think it works anymore, make sure you haven’t gone stale. Are you still exhibiting at a show that’s become passé in your industry? Ditch it. New shows crop up all the time; do your research and find out where you really need to be. Is your display out of style, or are your graphics starting to show their age? You need to keep up with what’s happening in the trade show circuit and in your industry. If you’re giving away mousepads and your competitor has an interactive video wall, you’ll find visitors passing you by in favour of more modern looking exhibits.

    No one likes stale bread, either.

Still not convinced? Leave a comment and tell us why! Or have I done my job and convinced you, and now you need some help fixing your exhibit process? Contact us directly and we’ll get you all straightened out in no time!