Skyline Exhibits recently hosted a webinar discussing the “10 Mistakes Exhibitors Make.” Many of the points seemed obvious, but preparing for a large tradeshow can be overwhelming, especially if you have a small team. It’s important to take a moment to map out a strategy and identify who is responsible for what tasks to ensure your exhibit is a success.
By thinking and planning ahead, you can avoid the most common mistakes:
1. Underselling your company with bad graphics – Take a look at your display piece: Is it banged up? Are there too many graphics? Is it dated and no longer representing your company’s vision? If so, it may be time to create a new conference display.
2. Displaying too much text – You have only a couple of seconds to catch someone’s attention as they walk down the exhibit hall. Skyline recommends five key words to draw someone in. Any more than that, the viewer will likely not have time to read the entire message. You don’t want to put everything about your company on the display — just a few key points that will catch attendees’ attention. Once they visit your booth, you can tailor your message accordingly.
3. Under-promoting your presence at tradeshows – Contact prospects and existing clients before the show and invite them to visit you. Email, phone and direct mail are all ways that you can connect prior to the conference. Social media is also a great way to alert your audience, but don’t rely solely on this method. Also, find out if your exhibiting fee includes a list of pre-registered attendees and/or last year’s attendees, and consider how to mine this from a marketing perspective.
4. Offer something at your booth – A prize raffle is a great way to bring people to your booth and gives you the opportunity to talk with them further. Rather than discussing the obvious, such as how cool the prize is, ask them about their experiences at the show, what they like best, etc. An added bonus is that you get prospects’ contact information and can follow up with them after the show with a tailored message based on your conversation.
5. Relying on inexperienced and untrained staff to sell your services – Your company can suffer tremendously if you put untrained staff at your booth and expect them to perform. There are several things to consider when prepping your staff for their role at a booth. First, make sure they know their start and end time for each day and when their scheduled breaks are. If there is no structure, your booth may be left unattended or leanly staffed during busy times. Second, proper etiquette at the booth is a must. Your staff should not be eating, drinking or taking calls while they are working. Third, train your staff on how to engage clients, and practice with them before the show. Your staff should have several opening lines that they can use to “pull” someone off the floor and engage them. Lastly, make sure those working the booth are familiar with the booth layout ahead of time. This may seem obvious, but it makes their job easier if they know where to stand or where not to stand, such as directly in front of the display, etc.
6. Not listening to your prospects’ needs – You can’t deliver the same message to every person you talk with at a tradeshow. Listen to your prospects – what are their specific needs, concerns, etc.? Make sure to tailor your response and probing questions.
7. Hauling too much literature to your booth – Chances are the material that you bring won’t make it out of the exhibit hall before it hits the trash can. Think about your most valuable pieces and how they can be used. For example, does it make more sense to send a PDF after the tradeshow instead of handing out your most expensive piece of literature?
8. Failing to plan ahead – Make a schedule of what you need to do prior to the event. Set measurable goals that you need to accomplish each week or month leading up to the day.
9. Not informing your service exhibit partner – This is geared more toward companies who exhibit frequently. If you are exhibiting at a conference in different cities each week, make sure you talk with the logistics people and let them know what’s going on with your booth. Where does it need to be next week? Are there any technical needs?
10. Not following up on leads – What’s the conference worth if you have interested prospects and you never follow up with them? Call and email them in a timely fashion. If you let too much time go by, they may not have a need for your service, may have found another provider or may have forgotten about you entirely. By following up promptly after the event, you show prospects that you appreciate meeting them and are eager to discuss next steps. Also, if someone requested that you send them additional information after the event, make sure you take care of this right away.
What other mistakes do you commonly see exhibitors make?
-By Berbay Account Manager Erica Hess