Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

7 Ways to Make Sure Your Tradeshow Exhibit Experience Sucks

Naah, I don’t want your tradeshow exhibiting experience to suck. But if it does, perhaps its because you did one of the following:

  1. Don’t have a plan. Next time you walk a tradeshow floor as an attendee, try to determine which exhibitors actually know what they’re doing there and why. If they have a fishbowl and are giving away an iPad to some random visitor that tosses a business card into the bowl, you can be assured they really don’t have a plan. If they say something simple and innocuous to passersby, such as “hi, how are you?” it becomes apparent they haven’t put any thought into what they actually want out of the show. Instead, make specific show goals (number of leads, counting visitors, number of demos, etc.) and come up with a strategy and plan to accomplish those goals.
  2. Natural Products Expo West 2009
    Natural Products Expo West 2009

    Don’t train your booth staff. If those staffers at the show that you’re still walking through are sitting at the back of the booth, talking amongst themselves, or chatting on a cell phone or texting somebody or eating, you know for a fact they have not been properly trained. Eating in a tradeshow booth is still the number one turn off to visitors and will pretty much ensure that anyone wanting to stop in at the moment will keep going. And probably not come back.

  3. Don’t do any pre-show marketing. If you don’t let people know you’re at the show, you’re leaving much more to chance. By working the phones, sending out emails, postcards, contacting media, doing PR, and more, you’re increasing the chances that people will make their way to your booth, no matter where it is.
  4. Don’t let your staffers know what’s going on other than the bare minimum. This is somewhat different than booth staff training, but falls under the same umbrella. If you don’t make sure your staff knows everything you can tell them about the products, service and specific show goals, they won’t fully grasp the reason(s) you’re at the show. On the other hand, if your staff has full knowledge of show goals, products, services, company hierarchy and other pertinent information, you’ll come a lot closer to being able to let visitors know as much about the products and services you offer as possible.
  5. Don’t have a booth that accurately and fully represents your brand. Too many exhibitors think that any ol’ booth will do. No. A booth is a statement. It’s a physical representation of your brand, from the materials, the graphic messaging, to the layout and the look and feel of the booth. If you’re a rootsy, eco-friendly, vegan pancake company, what are you doing with a high-tech booth that looks like it should be selling software? Visitors should be able to see your booth and instantly get a feel for your company that accurately reflects your products, attitude and mission.
  6. Don’t have a specific lead generation system in place. Think of it: you have a limited time at the show to capture information from potential clients or customers. If the show is a three day show and the floor is open just 7 hours a day, that’s 21 hours. If there are 30,000 visitors, that’s a potential of 1,428 visitors per hour IF they all walked by each booth once. We know that won’t happen, but if you get 100 visitors an hour and 20% of those visitors are ‘hot’ leads, what’s your method of capturing a lead’s specific contact information, along with follow up details? If you haven’t figured this out before the show – and your show goal is to capture as many good warm leads as possible – this will pretty much guarantee that your tradeshow exhibiting experience will suck.
  7. Don’t have a good follow up system in place. If you’ve gotten this far – planned a show, trained your staffers, have a good brand-representative booth and captured a plethora of leads – it will all be for naught if you don’t follow up properly. Still – in 2014! – surveys and statistics show that nearly 4 out of 5 tradeshow leads don’t get a follow up call or email. Eighty percent! Really! Do your job and make sure that all leads are tracked from the point of collection to the various touches over the next few weeks and month that lead to a sale. Because once you’ve made a sale, that’s when the fun begins and you’ve got a new client. And it all came from your tradeshow appearance.

But not if you suck at any of these seven items.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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