Trade shows are places where people meet to talk about products, or find new ways to squeeze more profit out of their existing systems. The problem with trade shows is that they have gotten a reputation for being expensive, while not giving back a good return on investment. Trade shows are only a waste of money for those people who are held back by the common misconceptions surrounding trade shows. Once you learn the truth, then you feel like you have learned a great secret to making more profit.
You always need a booth at a trade show.
This misconception is something that I can understand, but that does not make it right. You do not need a booth to succeed at a trade show. A nice conference / hotel room where you can set up business meetings will be just fine for your purposes.
It is all business at a trade show booth.
Business may be your reason for being at the trade show, but the attendees want to see something exciting before they will talk to you. Light shows, celebrities and giveaways are essential for trade show success.
All I need is to introduce my new product to get an audience.
Once the “ta da!” effect of a new product wears off, your booth foot traffic will start to fall off. Do not rely on just your new products to bring in people. Use gimmicks and familiar products as well.
I need my best people staffing my booth.
No, you need people who are knowledgeable and friendly to staff your booth. If your top engineer is a miserable old guy who hates people, then he should not be working your booth. You are better off spending time doing intense product training on your more outgoing employees than trying to convince miserable people to be nice to potential customers.
Every person at my booth is a potential customer.
Some people at trade shows are there to talk business, while others are just there to kick the tires. After you have been to enough trade shows, you learn to tell the difference and develop ways to focus on the buyers and let the tire kickers do their thing.
I must be as energetic as possible to get people to come to my booth.
The key to getting foot traffic at a trade show booth is to do things that attract people. Light shows and big, booming announcements work great. If you plan on “working the floor” by trying to talk to people as they walk by, then all you are doing is being annoying and people will purposely avoid your booth to avoid talking to you.
There is no such thing as partners at a trade show.
Wrong! Some of the most successful trade show presenters work hand-in-hand with partner companies to drive more traffic and get better results.
Attractive booth staff is overrated.
Ask yourself if you would prefer to talk to an attractive person (male or female), or someone who looks like they haven’t showered or been to the dentist in months.
A complicated booth makes customers want to learn more about my company.
A complicated booth makes potential customers walk away from your booth and head over to the booth that a competitor’s booth that is easier to understand.
Eh, those pamphlets from last year are fine.
All of your trade show handouts need to be brand new and customized for that trade show. If you don’t care about how your pamphlets look, then customers won’t care either.
I’ll just set up for the last day of the trade show, when everyone is there.
If you do not plan on setting up for an entire show, then don’t bother wasting your time or money.
These cute toys will make popular giveaways.
When I go to trade shows, I look for the giveaways that I can use after the show is over. Canvas bags, water bottles and pens always make great giveaways because people will use them after the show is over, and that increases your marketing return on investment.
I’m going to set up at this trade show that is not part of my industry because none of my competitors will be there.
There is a reason why your competition is not setting up at trade shows that are out of your industry, and they are the same reasons why you should avoid those shows as well.
I never set up a trade shows because they are a waste of money.
You know that competitor of yours who is always making great industry contacts and always beating you out for the big deals? That competitor goes to trade shows and takes the business that you leave on the table. That is why every successful company invests the time and effort into trade shows.