Not Doing Your Homework.
With the Internet on our smartphones, it’s easier than ever to find a trade show not far from where we live. So, before you commit your company to attending a trade show, visit a couple. See what other companies are doing. Make a list of likes and dislikes. Note the gimmicks, the giveaways, and see what catches your eye. Start planning your trade show booth/display based on your research.
Not Having Buy-in From Management.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but not having buy-in from management means the difference between a gorgeous or run-of-the-mill display. Management should be able to help with strategy and finance, and perhaps, construction. It would be ideal for management to approach you first. But if they don’t, and you’ve done your homework, you can explain why the trade show will be important for the company.
Slapping together your display.
This is where you get to shine. Based on the products you sell, you can build or purchase a beautiful display customers will remember. I know a forestry company whose owners built chairs, a round table and small A-frame from knotty pine. It was gorgeous. Of course, not everyone can do that, but you can use your strengths to create a display that makes the most of your products.
Ignoring your audience.
You love your company. But why should I or any other customer? Take a look at your display from the customer’s point of view. What does your booth say to us? Are you a medical company? How do we know? Are you a manufacturing company? Are there smudges on the display? Do you need to repaint? Or repair? Remember, this may be the first time I’ve ever seen or heard of you. Take a step back and view your display from the customer’s eye.
Offering a giveaway I won’t keep.
It’s fairly well known that a company can put its logo and contact information on just about anything these days. And though we will always have a use for written materials, customers love novelty items. How about a stress ball shaped like a kidney if you’re in health care? Or a refrigerator magnet? Water bottle? Mini-hand sanitizer? Pedometer? Even a pen. You get the picture?
Sending the wrong staff to represent you.
Your trade show is not a lemonade stand. Be sure to send skilled staff who are used to greeting the public, not shy interns who had no choice about working the weekend. They also should know enough about your company to answer basic questions. Literature comes in handy, but brochures should never replace face-to-face contact and a warm smile.
Not asking for feedback.
Because you offered great giveaways, like pens and magnets and water bottles, your customers will remember you. Aren’t I optimistic? And the brochures they took have your email address, and we know they will offer you feedback, because you asked. Chances are you will receive only 1 percent, if any, feedback but that’s better than none. Just be sure to ask for the feedback. Perhaps you can have a jar for business cards and send a follow up survey via email. Let the customers know ahead of time that you will be doing this.