The 7 Most Common Mistakes when Exhibiting at Trade Shows

So, you’ve decided to promote your business and raise your profile at a trade show. You’ve booked your stall space, you’ve ordered your promotional gifts and you’ve designed your banners. What could possibly go wrong? Well… a fair bit, really. Read on to see how to avoid the seven most common trade show pitfalls.


1. Poor planning – As with all things in business (and outside of it too), preparation is key. How does your stand look given the space you have to fill? What are the key items you want to promote? What are your backup plans in case someone you are relying on lets you down? Every day at a trade show is a day away from your business, so decide on the key events you want to attend throughout the year and consider how to make the most of your time there.


2. Giveaways to throw away – We all love free stuff but, realistically, how often have you come away from visiting a trade show with armfuls of ‘goodies’ only to dump half of them in the bin at the first opportunity? Discarded freebies are a waste of time for your visitors and a waste of money for you. So make sure your gifts are purposeful, useful and well targeted.


Trade show staff

3. The wrong staff – As it is a day away from the office, there is a temptation to keep senior staff running the business and send junior staff members to man the stall at the show. But this is often a mistake. These people are the faces of your company, and it is essential they know what they are doing. They must be knowledgeable about the company and products, they must know how to approach and encourage visitors, and they should know how to make a good pitch. Consider sending senior and experienced staff members – it often goes a long way with visitors for them to be able to meet the people running the companies.


4. A cluttered layout – Another bad habit for exhibitors is to lay out everything they sell and advertise everything they are currently promoting, with the result that their stalls looks cluttered and unfocused. A visitor should be able to tell at a glance what sort of product or service they can get from you, with just enough on your stall to entice them in for a closer look.


5. Not mixing – In any business you will have competitors. But that doesn’t mean you have to be defensive or wary of them at trade shows. Have a chat with your fellow exhibitors. The chances are that you’ll cross paths at other trade shows later, and the day will be more enjoyable with friendly faces around. Also, don’t be afraid to talk shop; you might not want to show them your expenses sheet, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing advice or finding out what’s happening with your fellows in the industry.


Social media6. #nosocialmedia – In this day and age, keeping your clients and customers abreast of what your company is up to is crucial. Do they know what you’ll be promoting? Do they know whether you are going there in person? Do they even know you are going to be at the show at all? Send out a few tweets, Facebook posts or emails to drum up a little interest – at the very least it adds to the buzz around the exhibition, which is good news for everyone.


7. Not following up on leads – So the day of the show was a big success. Great news; but that’s no reason to rest on your laurels. Make sure you follow up on all the new contacts you made to keep yourself at the forefront of their minds. Even a quiet day at a trade show can be turned into an invaluable one if you can turn the contacts you made into big business.



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