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Exhibiting At Trade Show’s Mistakes

Exhibiting At Trade Show’s Mistakes

The Benefits Of A Well Organised Trade Show Or Exhibition

  1. A well targeted and promoted trade show, should attract the type of people you will be interested in talking to and importantly who will have an interest in your product or service
  2. In the space of a few hours / days you can meet a high volume of people.
  3. By exhibiting at the trade show, often through the organiser you can often purchase or gain a list of all the attendees
  4. Many trade shows now have break out sessions or key note speaking sessions whereby you have the opportunity to present and be seen as an authority within the industry
  5. Trade shows can be a very cost efficient way of building a prospect list. For example if it costs £1000 to attend a trade show, and you get to meet and speak to 50 target prospects then that equates to a cost of only £20 per lead

Cost, Time and Effort

So the key resources required for the trade show are

  • Money – cost of stand space, exhibition materials, staff (salaries, travelling, accommodation entertaining)
  • Time – preshow, during the show and post show

Mistake Number 1: Not engaging with show visitors

So you have been to all the effort of booking the space, organising the stand, getting a listing in the show guide and event pr. The show opens, visitors arrive and you sit down behind a protective force field  (table) and get on your mobile phone to avoid human interaction.
If you are going to exhibit at a trade surely one of the primary functions is to engage with visitors. So next time you are organising event identify what will make it easier for your staff to engage with visitors

Mistake 2: Being seen as just the same as everybody else

Last month I was lucky to visit 2 major trade shows being held at the NEC. There were in total 5 industry shows taking place each aimed at a unique audience. The pre show promotion for each of the individual shows had been excellent and the range of seminars and related activities idea. All in an attempt to encourage those interested with the sector to attend.

Stainless Stainless Everywhere

So when I turned up at the first trade show, waved my pre-registered badge and entered I was greeted by the first exhibitor who had a bank of gleaming stainless steel equipment whirring, whizzing and rotating. I was at the processing and packaging machinery exhibition. As I looked down the multiple aisles I was greeted by row upon row of whirring, whizzing and rotating stainless steel machine’s. After only a few minutes I was completely a blur with Stainless Steel and every exhibition stand morphed into the next.

Please no more rapid prototype components

From the PPMA I went into TCT the rapid prototyping show. No stainless steel here – every stand was fully loaded with multi- coloured rapid prototype produced skulls, figurines or components. Again every stand looked the same whilst trying to convey “my components are better than your components”. I believe even the most enthusiastic visitor would have struggled after a while to stop and pay attention at a stand.

Be seen as different

So one of the key challenges is that by attending a trade event targeted at your potential customers it is very likely that your competitors are going to be attending. So next time you are organising an event identify what will make it easier for your display and message to stand out and draw in visitors. Its the classic challenge what can you do to differentiate yourself

People Buy From People

Exhibiting At Trade Show’s Mistakes 3: Are The Salespeople Engaging

Your at the trade show and after months of planning and the maddest, busiest 48 hours prior to the show doors opening you are ready to communicate the message about your products or services and hopefully fill your customer pipeline for the next twelve months.

Its All About The Sales People

So why have people on the stand who don’t want to engage with visitors. Here are some recent observations

  • As a person walked onto an empty stand the sales person avoided eye contact and started to reorganise sales leaflets.
  • I watched in disbelief as a visitor went to a stand where 3 people stood by the product display. The visitor was reading the point of sale display, picked up some sales literature, watched the continuous loop video and when nobody engaged with them … left
  • The sales person on the stand sat on the trade stand, declined the opportunity to stand up and engage with a visitor, a blatant case of I really cant be bothered
  • I know that we all have to eat. But when you are on a exhibiting when its your turn to eat you really  shouldn’t eat on the trade stand, it just doesn’t seem professional
  • Finally we all know that trade shows can be a drag, tiresome, a drain etc, but if you look miserable that will affect those walking past. A pleasant smile will go along way if you want to engage with people

Exhibiting At Trade Shows Mistake #3 – Be seen as different

So next time you are organising an event identify what you can do to make it easier for your staff to be happy and enjoy themselves (whilst remaining the consummate professionals that they are). Think about the last time you went to speak with someone who looked miserable.

Exhibiting At Trade Show’s Mistakes 4: Not Capturing The Details Of People Who Visit

Well organised trade shows will have spent huge amounts of time and money building a list and communicating with the list to encourage them to attend.
For those who attend their details will have been captured as the show badge is produced. On entry the badge will be scanned  which can identify how often you entered the show

Its Not Just About The Technology

So when someone visits your stand and says “Please can you send me a brochure” and you say “Please let me scan your badge”, is there really data capture taking place.

  • So now you have captured the details of the person – based on the information they provided when they signed up for the free admission to the event
  • Are they really
    • A senior manager
    • With ultimate decision making capabilities
    • Of a 100 employee plus company
    • With a turnover of over fifty million pounds
    • Interested in …
    • Whose name just happens to be Bert Smith
    • Now I’m not saying that people deliberately give misinformation but perhaps not everybody is as honest as yourself
  • What if you had engaged in conversation
    • Asked them if there was anything they were specifically interested in
    • The type of industry they worked in
    • The problems that they faced
    • What had made them come to your stand
    • Gained their business card

Building A profile

Now if all the information you gained through conversation was captured on the customer prospect database you have significantly more information to consider when

  • You conduct a post show analysis and try and identify if the quality of people visiting the stand had improved
  • You prioritise which of the prospects should be dealt with
  • You send them post show information

Mistake 5: People Haven’t Got A Clue What You Do ( Poorly designed graphics)

Your trade stand space has been secured and now have to decide what to put into the space. Perhaps you can fit in pop up stands, or banner stands or even have a bespoke stand made for the event. So as part of the planning you come up with key messages or information that you think will be of use to a visitor at the show

This Is How It Often Goes Wrong

  • You identify all the products or services that you want to make people aware of that you offer and find this runs to a list of over 20 items
  • You also want to include information about
    • Your website address which is of course isn’t as short and snappy as  or
    • Your logo – and you want to have that really BIG so that people know who you are
  • You give the designer 48 hours to come up with a creative graphics / visuals
  • As you have so many products and services and you don’t want to focus on a specific customer type you think it best to include a generic type of imagery
  • Between the people within the company there is no one who is actually formally skilled with a marketing or design qualification. This automatically puts you at a disadvantage in terms of identifying the messages or imagery that will create impact to a passing visitor
  • You are trying to keep costs down so therefore don’t want to waste money o expensive fluffy / frilly marketing support services
  • Of course there are no exhibition objectives or campaign requirements as you have no marketing strategy

For more information on how to improve your ROI from exhibitions and events click here. For more information on other marketing training click here

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