Trade show participation is an investment that large businesses make helping to boost sales, increase brand awareness, clear stock, or introduce new products to prospective buyers. These events can also be beneficial to small businesses that are strategic, goal-oriented and systematic about generating targeted trade show leads.

Since trade shows take a significant amount of resources to prepare for, it makes sense to avoid the missteps that are common to novice exhibitors. Regardless of the size of your business, you should plan to avoid these seven trade show mistakes:


1) Propping Barriers Between Your Booth and Prospective Leads

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of trade shows is the human interaction. The people who attend your trade show are going to be curious about your line of displayed products. Therefore, they will probably want to approach your booth, touch the products, and ask questions. However, some inexperienced organizers are clumsy with how they organize trade show displays. The most annoying table placement at events involves tables creating barriers that prevent prospective business leads from accessing your display booth and ultimately from making sales inquiries. They often walk away frustrated and annoyed.


2) A Poorly Designed Display Booth

Many people who see your trade show booth will unconsciously decide if it is a success and worthy of their attention. It all depends on how well curated your display booth design seems. Obviously, trade shows booths must propagate some specialized messages through seamlessly designed and executed themes. If your displays aren’t colorful, compelling, and coordinated your trade show is likely to be a failure no matter how polite your presentations and interactions are. Remember that proper marketing entails engaging all five senses: sight, taste, smell, hearing, and touch. The sight component is critical as it gives the audience their first impression of the interaction and determines whether your leads are interested enough to indulge their other senses.

For a proper display booth:

  • Your color selections must be brand related.
  • You must have display items available for touch and interaction.
  • Your messaging must be clear, convincing, and authoritative.

Whatever you do, please do not skimp on the budget needed to create a fun and impressive display booth. Also, before you begin designing the display booth, make sure that you thoroughly identify your goals and the purpose of attending the show so that your design intentionally supports those goals.


3) Attending A Tradeshow Outside of Your Niche

You should have an idea of the kind of leads that you would like to attract from a trade show. To make lead generation more efficient, look for a show that is closely aligned with your ideal customer. It takes a lot of time and other resources to make trade show participation successful, so your approach to selecting the right trade show should be strategic. For example, if you’re a new medical clinic serving the consumer, it may not make sense to attend a show that is more aimed at medical device sales.


4) Using Temporary Help to Win Over Prospects

Trade shows are special in how they win clients over for your business. Unlike mainstream advertising, affiliate marketing, and social media posting, trade shows are more reliant on person-to-person communication. Unfortunately, most business owners fail to regard the role of personal interaction in trade shows. That is why they send their least productive employees and even hire temporary employees to win over their already established sales leads into buying products. When they do that, the trade shows often end up reversing already won-over leads.

Consumers generally dislike pushy sales techniques that are devoid of content and value. Prospective leads often ask many questions out of curiosity and interest. The best way to annoy them and fend them off is by failing to answer such questions properly. The problem is, low-performance and temporary employees most often do not answer such questions convincingly. They do not possess the passion and understanding that you and your well-performing employees have of the business and its on-sale products.


5) Attending a Poorly Marketed Trade Show

Niche shows are often more successful than events with a more general theme, as specialization helps event organizers to advertise to fewer and more specific people. However, the event organizers should still make a sizable investment in advertising and publicizing their event. Otherwise, much of the resources that you are putting into attending the trade show could be lost. With the appropriate level of marketing, their customized message should land on the appropriate ears of your ideal customer. So look for a trade show that has been well promoted in years past, as well as one that is current with online trends; the best way to conduct targeted trade show marketing in the age of information is social media and email marketing even though email marketing is best for older and more formal generations.


6) Ambushing Event Attendees

According to a study that was successfully conducted by the Center for Exposition Industry Research, 59 percent of people attending trade shows prefer to interact with product demonstrations. Attendees prefer to interact with products first and then seek information from nearby personnel. However, they always feel agitated when trade show exhibitors have their personnel ambushing them with annoying and unsolicited sales pitches. If you would like to achieve positive results, it would be better to arrange products in a way that leads attendees to feel compelled by their curiosity to ask questions.


7) Failing To Follow Up With Leads

People naturally forget interesting things because they have a lot on their minds. After investing in an appealing and convincing trade show, make sure that you leverage all of its gains for your future profitability. You must ensure that you secure the return of your heavy investments by following up on all of the business leads that your trade show generated. Therefore, if possible, make sure that you collect contact information of most of your attendees. Additionally, make sure that you give them promotional materials as they leave.