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Submitted by: Michael Mathewson
Your success at trade shows has as much to do with the mistakes you manage to avoid as it does with the things you do correctly. That means you need to watch for potential pitfalls that threaten to derail your efforts and pummel your budget. Some mistakes can be extremely costly, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Others can suck the time of your staff, pulling them away from tasks that are more important and more likely to generate leads and sales.
With that in mind, we’ll present 4 of the most common blunders made by exhibitors. It’s not an exhaustive list by any measure. But it includes the mistakes that routinely ensnare both trade show veterans and novices. Take care to avoid them to ensure the time and money you invest in your next tradeshow doesn’t go to waste.
1 – Neglecting To Inform People About Your Booth
Your exhibit will not promote itself. If you hope to attract visitors, plan to spread the word about it months before the event. There are a lot of ways to do this. For example, mention your upcoming tradeshow appearance on Facebook and Twitter. Mention it on your blog. Include a blurb promoting your booth in a weekly or monthly newsletter to your customers. Post information about the event (e.g. date, time, location, etc.) on your website, and encourage people to ask questions.
You can also organize contests with your customers and others on your mailing list. For example, mail a scratch card to everyone on your list. Include a select number of winning cards. Allow those who receive the winning cards to claim a free prize at your exhibit.
Executing promotions before the tradeshow can drum up interest, create anticipation, and result in a steady stream of booth traffic.
2 – Renting Too Large A Space In The Exhibition Hall
A lot of business owners become convinced that bigger is better when it comes to booth size. So, they rent a huge space with the goal of creating a spectacle that grabs attention. In most cases, this is a major mistake and can doom a trade show effort before the event arrives.
Large spaces in exhibition halls cost a substantial amount of money. They also necessitate the construction of large exhibits to fill the space. This too carries a significant cost. Moreover, additional staff is needed to work the floors.
Unless you have had success in running huge booths, opt for a smaller one at your next tradeshow. They cost less, are easier to manage, and provide everything needed to attract visitors.
3 – Neglecting To Train Your Staff
Your employees should be given a clear goal to accomplish during the time they spend working in your booth at tradeshows. They are there to engage prospects and collect qualified leads. Doing so requires that your staff is well-trained in how to interact with potential customers.
For example, they should ask questions designed to uncover visitors’ needs with respect to your company’s products. Your employees should also find out whether the person they are talking with has the authority to make decisions, and the budget to take action on them. They must be able to talk about your products in a favorable light, presenting them as solutions to the problems attendees describe.
Few employees can do these things effectively without training. Sit down with your staffers a few weeks before the tradeshow. Give them the skills that will allow them to perform well at the event.
4 – Offering Giveaways Without A Clear Purpose
Many exhibitors believe they must use giveaways to attract attention and draw visitors to their booths. So, they give out stress balls, tape measures, and other knickknacks to random attendees. The danger is that the giveaways can become little more than momentary bribes. That is, attendees may stop in to pick up their free rewards, but have little interest in the company providing them. They are not prospects for the company’s products.
Handing out giveaways can be a powerful method for attracting people to your exhibit. The key is to have a purpose. Try to tie your giveaways in with your business. For example, suppose you manufacture golf clubs. Your might give away golf balls or golf club covers to qualified prospects (as opposed to everyone). The free items help to brand your company and keep it in the forefront of your prospects’ minds.
Trade show marketing is a great way to reach your audience, generate orders, and drive revenue. But it requires a substantial investment. Sidestep the 4 mistakes described above to preserve your budget and make the most of your opportunities at the next event.
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