7 Tradeshow Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Love them or hate them, a tradeshow can be an effective way to get your product or service in front of a very targeted audience. Now that’s not saying that you’re guaranteed sales from your tradeshow efforts. Rather with the right approach, and the right staff, you do have an opportunity to gain quick exposure.

In the meetings and events industry tradeshows still play an important  role. I’ve been part of several tradeshows where I have to admit the audience didn’t seem eager. Some trade associations try their best to increase tradeshow attendance. That in and of itself can be a hard sale. But many associations have taken unique approaches when incorporating tradeshows into their educational programs.

If you approach tradeshows with a laissez-faire attitude well, as the saying goes, you get back what you put out. Here are seven things that you would be best to avoid if you’re spending hard-earned dollars on your booth at a trade show.

7 Things Not to Do at a Tradeshow

Staff your booth with staff not trained (or staff that don’t know your product/service).

You’ve probably seen the good looking women and men manning those tradeshow booths who seemed more interested in themselves than in conversing with you. I get why some companies hire models to staff their booths. They get people’s attention. But when it boils down to answering the questions that attendees have, good solid operational questions, there’s little substance.

Eating/Drinking in the booth.

This one is a real pet peeve of mine. To me nothing looks more unprofessional than people standing in a booth shoving food into their mouths. Yes of course there’s nothing wrong with quenching your thirst. Even that can be done discreetly.

Schedule breaks and when it’s necessary leave the booth to eat. Plain and simple.

Talking negatively about the competition.

This one can be a real dealbreaker. While a potential customer may not like your competition, it’s not your place to pile onto those opinions. I suggest that you simply reply with: “oh that’s really too bad” or “I’m sorry to hear that”.

The best way to outshine your competition is to not slam them. Rather prove through your actions and your integrity why you would make a better choice.

Having no specific goal or expectations from the tradeshow.

I’ve often heard from industry colleagues about how ineffective tradeshows are to them. And oddly enough when I asked them what their expectations were they really didn’t have specific goals. Well how can you expect success if you don’t know what you’re striving for in the first place? Simply attending a tradeshow and crossing your fingers that your phone will start ringing off the hook is not a recipe for success. If that’s your approach do yourself and your company a favor – don’t attend the tradeshow.

If you know what your expectations are it’s a lot easier to measure whether or not the event was a success.

Behaviour outside of tradeshow hours.

We all like to socialize and have fun at industry events. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with having a good time with colleagues. But you have to remember that at these events you are always representing your company. Having a few too many drinks along with over-the-top behavior will get you remembered. But probably for all the wrong reasons.

Writing people off because they don’t represent possible sales.

I really hate when the person I’m talking with keeps looking over my shoulder. To me he or she is basically saying that I’m boring them. That’s usually my cue to get as far away from that individual as possible. Even if I wanted information about the service.

No follow up or system in place post tradeshow.

This point is similar to having no goals for the tradeshow. If you don’t have a follow-up system in place then you’re wasting your time and hard earned dollars. As the saying goes: success is in the follow-up. And do not wait too long before you start contacting those leads. They meet a lot of companies like yours.

Tradeshows can be a large expense for many event planning companies. A tradeshow is also an ideal opportunity to expose your product and service to a targeted audience. If you don’t take the time to plan, execute and follow-up then you’ve probably just wasted both your time and money.

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