Skip to Main Content

Don’t Make These 10 Trade Show Exhibit Mistakes

From choosing the right trade show booth rental to determining event ROI, marketing managers juggle a lot of moving parts. With so many responsibilities, it is easy to make mistakes and not learn from them until it is too late. That’s why we have created this list of the top ten event mistakes to help you avoid jeopardizing your hard work.

1. Incorrectly Sized Trade Show Booth Rental

An improperly sized exhibit can not only be embarrassing for your company, but it can also waste money. Paying for a 30×30 space when a smaller one could have gotten the job done will negatively impact the trade show ROI for an event. In the same light, a too-small exhibit can bury your brand in the hustle and bustle of an event. Turn to your exhibit house partner for guidance about the appropriate size required for showcasing your brand.

2. Inhibiting the Flow

You want attendees to be able to comfortably navigate your exhibit and have access to the important information you are sharing. Make sure that graphics with critical messaging are fully visible, not hidden by a product demo station.  Position furniture so that it doesn’t create an obstacle course to certain areas of the exhibit. It is important that the environment feels open and welcoming.

3. Lack of Clarity for Show Objectives

Every marketing manager sets trade show event goals, but justifying your trade show budget is difficult when these goals are vague. If your objectives are as simple as “boost sales” or “increase number of leads,” you’ll likely reach them, but you need to know by how much to evaluate your return on investment. Develop a strategic plan for each event that includes defined metrics.  Track these numbers to give you a realistic measure of your program’s success.

4. Lack of Pre-Show Marketing

Before the show, getting the word out about the location of your exhibit and relevant event activities should be a top priority.  How much time and money you spend can vary, but at the very least, social media is a free way to get the conversation started. You can also reach out to current customers to see if they are attending.  Gather the information you need to plan appropriately so you can attract the attention of valuable attendees.

5. Neglecting to Network

Gathering new leads at a show is always a top priority for companies. However, a significant mistake that is often made is not taking advantage of what the show offers outside of your exhibit. Encourage your staff to learn about competitors and the trends in the industry by going beyond your exhibit.  Schedule “walk the trade show floor” times into each staff member’s work schedule.  Seeing what the competition is doing and saying provides a better understanding of the market and could offer ideas to improve your company’s efforts.

6. Undertrained or Misinformed Staff

Your staff is the most important asset at a show. Coordinate meetings before the show to discuss etiquette, dress, and handling conversations. Share the priorities for the show. Open the floor to let them talk through commonly asked questions from prospects. This will ensure everyone is speaking the same “language” and staying on message.

7. Giveaways Due to Guilt

Having premium items just for the sake of giving something away is guaranteed to waste money. Just because your competitors are giving away pens and keychains doesn’t mean you need to as well. If you’re investing in promos, make sure they are useful to attendees and will remind them of the value of your brand when they return to the office.

8. Slow Lead Follow Up

During most events, attendees are gathering information, not looking to immediately commit to a purchase, especially given that not all visitors to your exhibit are the ultimate decision makers. The biggest mistake your sales reps can make is being too slow to follow up with leads. Work with reps ahead of time to determine the qualified lead definition, their follow-up strategy and accountability plan for follow-up.

9. Partying Too Hard

Partying after hours is common, but you walk a fine line by doing so. It’s important to remember that you are on company time and constantly surrounded by people attending the same show. Going to dinner and socializing with clients is a great way to strengthen relationships, but being irresponsible can ruin what has taken years to develop.

Remember that trade shows are competitive, and less-than-ideal behavior can travel quickly to your competitors. Address these concerns with your sales reps. You don’t want after-hours activities to deteriorate your team’s hard work, or squander the substantial financial investment your company has made to support this important marketing activity.

10. Choosing the Right Trade Shows

This is often a mistake that exhibitors can’t determine until after the show. Think of it as a blind date: you have high hopes that it’ll go well, but it’s just not something you can gauge until afterward. One way to try to prevent this is by speaking to suppliers, partners and even current customers who have attended before.  Find out what type of attendees are there and ask, “How valuable was their experience?”

If you’ve exhibited at the show before, don’t let attendance or momentum inform your decision. Revisit your program’s objectives and determine if the show helps or hurts them. If it’s the former, attend again.

Don’t let your trade show exhibit be an avoidable mistake. Contact Exhibitus, an industry leader in custom and rental exhibits. Our dedicated Results Division will help you get a better understanding of your trade show ROI and ensure you get the credit you deserve for executing an extraordinary event.