Trade shows can be an excellent opportunity to showcase your business and its offerings to industry leaders and potential prospects. However, preparing for a trade show can be hectic, stressful, and require a great deal of time and money.

With plenty of competition and only about 5 seconds to make the right first impression, there’s little room for error and encouraging attendees to spend time at your booth is critical. Avoid making these 5 mistakes at your next trade show.

Mistake #1 - Choosing The Wrong Trade Show

All the time and effort spent preparing for the exhibit will be wasted if you’re at the wrong event. There’s a trade show for nearly every industry; however, that doesn’t mean it will be a suitable event for your business. When planning for a trade show, it’s essential to determine if the event makes sense for your target audience and your budget.

Evaluate which trade shows to attend by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is this a B2C or B2B trade show?
  • How many attendees will be present?
  • Does this event have an established reputation?
  • How much does it cost to attend as an exhibitor?
  • What products/services do I want to showcase?

Don’t get stuck trying to showcase your business at the wrong event. Doing your research ahead of time can set your team up for success.


Mistake #2 – Not designing your booth for your audience

With only a few seconds to capture the attention of attendees, making sure the booth space looks good and speaks directly to your business’s target audience is imperative. Make sure any messaging displayed within the exhibit is easy to read and allows attendees to quickly grasp who the company is and its value.

Use these tips to help your space be more attractive to attendees:

  • Ensure the lighting helps attendees see the exhibit clearly
  • Check that any text or images remain visible from at least 30 feet away
  • Use high-resolution images where appropriate
  • Make sure the layout invites attendees to enter the space
  • Provide an interactive element like an iPad to allow attendees to explore your products

Consider consulting a professional when designing the exhibit’s banners, display, marketing materials, and overall layout. By working with an agency that understands your business’s goals and event needs, your business can put its best face forward.


Mistake #3 – Not establishing a trade show budget

Between booth fees and the cost of new marketing materials, including tents, tables, banners, and technical equipment, preparing for a trade show can quickly get expensive. Make sure your business sees the highest return on investment by establishing a budget before the next event.

Be sure to account for any unexpected expenses that may pop up during the planning and execution stages. Account for all event-related expenses, including travel expenses for sales reps, the cost of exhibit materials, and relevant shipping costs. By having a solid understanding of how much each exhibit costs the organization, your team can adequately assess if these events are providing a high enough ROI to justify the time and money spent.


Mistake #4 – Poor logistic planning

There’s nothing worse than getting to your destination and discovering half the booth kit didn’t arrive on time. How is your team supposed to put their best foot forward and secure new leads when they’re missing essential marketing materials?

Ensure the sales team adequately prepares by adding buffer time to account for shipping delays to ensure the booth, equipment, and all materials arrive at the venue on time. Additionally, make plans for your team to arrive at the location with adequate time to set up, check technical equipment, and test that everything is working correctly. Be sure to train all sales representatives attending the exhibit to set up and store booth materials properly.

Preventing last-minute mishaps will ensure a smooth set-up process and a successful event. Having a plan in place will help the trade show exhibit be successful and save time, money, and stress for your team.


Mistake #5 – Not following up on leads

The work isn’t complete after packing up your booth and heading back to the office. It is critical to follow up with connections made during the exhibit and continue nurturing those relationships while your business remains fresh in the prospect’s mind.

Collect contact information during the exhibit, such as email addresses, so your sales team can begin following up with new leads. Additionally, it is possible to make your follow-up process less labor-intensive by setting up email automation. After the event concludes, send an email thanking contacts for attending your exhibit and include a CTA directing them to the next steps.

While preparing for a trade show can feel hectic, it remains a valuable opportunity to expose your brand to new prospects and increase overall awareness. Need help maximizing your brand’s presence during your next trade show? Contact the GROWL team today!

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