It’s Trade Show season! Yes, one of the most fun seasons of all, if you do it right. For most industries, we know trade shows are the necessary evil that get us a splurge of business in a quick amount of time. Worst case scenario is that you come home with lots of contacts that you need to follow up with, and a slight headache from attending too many of the cocktail hours they provide for attendees. I’ve actually heard people end a show with “What a waste of my time. I didn’t get any business.” Really? If that’s your opinion, please, please don’t sign up for another trade show. Or, do some research before you attend! RESEARCH HOW TO USE A TRADE SHOW TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! Exhibiting at trade shows isn’t cheap, so make sure you do it right the first time. I’m not going to say every show is amazing…but you have to make the most of it, and you will have at least a few contacts that will remember you and you can sell to them with a little follow up. The follow-up after a show is a whole different ball game, so today, we’ll stick to the most common pitfalls.
- Procrastinating! – Just because lots of people procrastinate, doesn’t mean you need to. Trust me, a trade show is not going to be as effective if you procrastinate! First, if you don’t get your booth reserved by the early registration date, you get to pay more. Not to mention, you’ll be having a leftover spot in the corner! Now, as you know we do graphic design, we can attest to how many people call us a week before a show for show materials. Hopefully, we can fit the graphics into our schedule in time to get it off to a printer and pay a rush fee. Don’t forget all of the rush fees for promotional products, too. And, without enough time to plan, effectiveness of your booth will NEVER be maximized!
- Over or Under Staffing Your Booth – Plan for the audience! If you have never exhibited at a specific show before, call another exhibitor to ask how fast the crowds come by. Typically, the show planner will promise many more attendees than will show, so get your info from another exhibitor. If you over staff your booth will look like too many people are wasting time. If under staffed, you will lose lots of business opportunities. Do some research here and try to get the number right for the show!
- Not Giving Yourself Enough Time to Set-Up – Oftentimes, exhibitors are given the evening before the show to set-up. Many exhibitors skip the set-up til the morning of the show. First, do you realize how much commotion is going on in the exhibit hall? It’s crazy in there. If you need to push a dolly, good luck getting it down an aisle the morning of the show. And, if you forgot one little item, you have no chance to go back and get it. When shows open, typically, there was a breakfast for attendees, and they pour in all at one time. An unprepared exhibitor will miss the largest rush of attendees by setting up too late. Make sure you are ready to go the second the show doors open, and you aren’t too worn out from last minute preparation!
- Ignoring Follow-Up – Before you exhibit at a show, you should already have a follow-up plan in place. Yes, I’m skipping this topic for another day, but the biggest mistake is to not be prepared for follow-up…huge loss of opportunity kinda makes the whole show worthless, doesn’t it?