7 Mistakes You Are making as a trade show exhibitor


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!


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.


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.


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!


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!


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 because an ineffective design means an ineffective exhibit.


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.

Need some help fixing your exhibit process? Contact us directly and we’ll get you all straightened out in no time!

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