10 Common Trade Fair Mistakes – Should Be Avoided – Interior Today
Mistakes happen whether you’re new to trade shows or a seasoned trade show veteran, but you can avoid the 13 most common trade show mistakes by following this advice. So take a few minutes and read to give your trade show to the next level.
If you’re new to trade show marketing, it might make more sense to start with an inline 10 x 10 or 10 x 20. Learn what works, from graphics to display configurations, before investing in an island display. For example, you’d be surprised how many people think they need an enclosed conference room, only to find that their clients are more comfortable in an informal meeting room.
Most organizations participate in several trade fairs each year. There is usually an order to those shows, with some being more important than others. It may not make sense to “go big” at side shows when you could be investing that money in your main show (where you’ll get more leads and kick the bejesus out of your competitors).
In general, smaller exhibits are less frequented than larger ones, if for no other reason than location. Larger exhibits are usually centrally located, closer to the entrance and along the main aisles. However, the biggest benefit of larger exhibits is their area and height. Island exhibits may include display areas, multiple kiosks, seating, ample storage space, large format graphics, overhead signage, and product displays. While these are still possible in inline displays, space limits how much can be done.
There’s a school of thought that says, “At least level the playing field of your major competitors.” Here’s another idea: determine what you want to achieve at the show and what it will take to exceed those goals, then design a booth that achieves them. It’s not rocket science.
No specific goals
For whatever reason, some companies are on autopilot when it comes to their trade show marketing. If you ask them what they want to achieve, their answer is usually “increase sales” or “generate more leads.” Really? You can also throw in “world peace” and “ending global hunger” if those are your only goals.
Chances are, your trade show goals align with your overall marketing goals. The ability to perform them in a face-to-face 3D environment. This is where working with a knowledgeable exhibition professional makes all the difference. Just because you’re a marketing superstar doesn’t mean you know trade show marketing or exhibit design. Smart trade show professionals will spend most of their time asking what they want to achieve.
Gifts for the sake of gifts
It’s funny how loose pens, stress balls, and rulers can give us an inferiority complex. They have them. We don’t, so we feel like second-class citizens at the fairgrounds. We have trinkets at the next fair, and we spend half the time giving them out just to have them in the first place. Don’t get me wrong. I like free stuff. But free stuff has a purpose. A bank that gives away handy calculators. Smart. A chiropractor hands out a spine-shaped pen. Smart too. But when a software company gives away plastic water bottles. What is the point?
The same rules apply to prizes or drawings. The artwork should create buzz at the show and serve as a mechanism to engage potential clients in conversation. Fishbowls, where attendees submit business cards to win iPods and attract leads, but not quality leads. Do you really want your sales team to sort through a bunch of unqualified leads? Probably not.
Stand staff are not trained
I know you’re thinking, “My employees know the products and know the company, why should I train them?” Real. Now think back to the last time you went shopping at the mall. These employees knew the products and knew the company. Did you feel like you received exceptional service? Did they reach out to you immediately, ask you open-ended questions, listen, and show you exactly what you wanted? Probably not.
Pre-show and pre-show training each day ensures that everyone understands the mission, that everyone knows their role, and that everyone gets their questions answered. Think of the fair as a job interview. Everyone who enters the booth makes the decision to hire you (or not). Can you really afford to lose a sale?
No Daily Stand Preparation
When your in-laws come to town, you spend your days cleaning, organizing, and stressing over dust bunnies. Three days later, you don’t care anymore. There are dirty dishes piled up in the sink and clothes thrown over the chair. The same scenario occurs with most exhibitors. They polish and condition for hours before the show, then ignore smudges, carpet boogies, and stray candy wrappers until the next day.
Every day is a new day in Exhibit Land. Like Disneyworld, it needs to look perfect before the guests arrive. Assign this task to someone every day and create a checklist. Otherwise, it won’t be done, or the one who has the initiative will do it and get angry about it.
Partying and socializing
It’s fair. I assume you will be socializing and partying during your free time. But—and here’s the big but—you have to be smart about it. First, you are in a company. Even if you think you are not part of society, you are. That’s just the way it is. If the company expects you to interact with clients, then interact and be on your best behaviour. If someone has to tell you what that means, then you shouldn’t be dealing with clients.
Second, fairs may seem like a friendly gathering, and they may be, but in reality, they’re a competition. What you say, where you say it, and who is around when you say it can have painful consequences for you and your employer. We are all on high alert for innuendo and outright gossip about our competitors. It’s amazing what someone will tell you, or someone next to you will reveal, after a few drinks.
Finally, and this should go without saying, socializing should not interfere with your show duties. Pace yourself, cowboys and cowgirls. Showing up at a stand and sweating tequila (no matter how good the tequila was) is not attractive.
Packing And Unpacking
I know. You are tired and want to go back to your room, the airport, or home. It is understandable. We all feel that way. But how you unpack or pack your suitcase will make your life a lot easier or harder. You know deep in your heart that it’s right. Ultimately, the key to a successful trade show is planning and organization. Your exhibition is no exception.
Careful unpacking of the exhibit and the arrangement of packaging materials will speed up assembly and facilitate repacking. You eliminate the head-scratching that always happens at the end of the show. Taking the time to package your exhibit properly will ensure that it arrives at its next destination in good condition and ready for the next exhibition. Think of your exhibit as yarn. You have a choice. You can either throw loose yarn into the case and hope for the best. Or you can carefully roll it into a ball.
Participation in incorrect exhibitions (non-participation in correct exhibitions)
This one is hard. Too often, you never know until you participate. It’s kind of like a “mystery date,” where you don’t know if the person on the other side of the door is a “dream” or a “guy.” The best advice is to ask your suppliers or strategic partners who may attend the same show. What is their opinion about the fair, and was it beneficial? If possible, ask for details such as lead numbers, trade show sales, and promotional ideas. What works and what doesn’t?
In the end, you have to make a decision based on your own experience. Sometimes the show would be better if you did this or that. It’s alright. You will make the adjustment next year. Other times it didn’t fit because you were selling candy at a diabetic convention.
You don’t want to let tradition or dynamics dictate whether you attend. Just because you’ve gone (or haven’t) gone every year shouldn’t dictate whether or not you go this year. Take the time to evaluate your marketing goals and see if the show contributes to those goals. If yes, then go for it.
Not walking around after the show talking to competitors, suppliers and potential partners
It’s tempting to just hang out in your booth. After all, it is safe and convenient. But trade shows are two-way streets. Prospective customers want to learn about and discover new products, services, and suppliers. You are there to work with these customers, but you also want to learn and discover.
Every show is an opportunity to improve your “game.” How are your competitors performing? What are they saying? Are there any new products or services that would benefit your company? Are there any trends you’ve overlooked that you need to study and implement?
No one is asking you to spy, but friendly conversation goes a long way with friends and foes alike. It’s all about your attitude. Don’t be afraid to say “hi!” and ask how the show is going. You want to be perceived as warm and friendly, not as a medieval fortress with a closed drawbridge. Of course, the same rules apply as in the “Party and Socialize” section – you have to be smart about what you share (and don’t share).
Interior Today Exhibition Pvt. Ltd.
Interior Today is an international exhibition stand builder and contractor that provides one-stop solutions for exhibitions and other events. They offer different services, such as design, fabrication, and full-service installation.
Interior Today is one of the leading exhibition booth designers and exhibitors in the world today. We are proud of our innovative designs that not only meet your expectations but can also put your company on a global stage.
We are skilled in designing, fabricating, and installing state-of-the-art exhibition stands of all shapes and sizes. We can take your idea to fruition with our innovative styles of exhibition stand design that are tailored to suit your needs. We have been providing exhibition stall fabrication services for more than a decade now. Therefore, we have understood the essentials of designing for exhibitions. Our knowledge of exhibiting has helped us in multiple successful projects over these years by helping us understand our client’s needs completely.