Trade Show Failures

Renting a booth space at a trade show, and sending displays, staffers and collateral is a worthwhile – but expensive – investment. After deciding to spend the resources on a trade show, the worst thing any company could do is not ensure that everyone involved is in the best position to succeed so that those resources are well spent. Simple planning and preparation can help prevent these types of costly trade show failures.

Low-Quality Displays and Graphics

This is obviously something you need to have correct before you even get to the trade show. The first way to ensure display quality is not an issue that drags down your show is to carefully research display printing companies. If you’re going to a large trade show and investing considerable time and money to be there, don’t go cheap on a display from a company that doesn’t specialize in the type of printing you need. Of course you have a budget to work within, but buying a display from a company that doesn’t have much background in handling large jobs is a mistake you can absolutely avoid. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a low-quality display with bad graphics. Attendees notice this, and it can make your company look cheap. If attendees think your booth and graphics are low quality, what will they assume about the quality of products or services your company provides?

Not Getting “Just Right” Graphics

Like Goldilocks and The Three Bears, your graphics need to be just right. They can’t be too noisy or crowded – otherwise, people will miss the message because they’re not going to read tons of text on a display. On the other hand, you also want to avoid taking the minimalist approach too far. While having too many graphics makes your display a nightmare to read, having too few graphics is vague and leaves people guessing what your company is about. Either way, you risk losing out on visitors.

Not Making Effective Use of Space

Whatever size booth you rent – 10' x 10', 10' x 20', an island or an aisle – making the most of that space is important. Like getting the graphics just right, you cannot afford to overcrowd your space so that it becomes inaccessible to potential leads passing by; however, you also want to optimize your space for successful demo areas, collateral, displays, giveaways or games.

Giving Away Giveaways

This is a mistake that can be costlier than you would think. While giveaway items and branded swag can do a lot for your company, especially at trade shows, costs for custom printed T-shirts, sweatshirts, pens, handheld digital items and device chargers can run high – especially if you need a lot of them for a trade show. If you’re giving away these items without bringing any value back to the company in the form of leads or sales, then this cost can hurt your budget twofold. Have a plan laid out for this before the show.

Ignoring Pre-Show Marketing

Speaking of the work that needs to be done before the show, poor marketing can derail your success before the trade show even begins. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to promote your presence at the show, as well as your booth location and some of your plans. 

Not Being Social

Not being active on social media leading up to, during and after the show is a big mistake. You don’t want to spam your social media pages so that people avoid you, but ensuring you’re leveraging your social channels optimally matters. This is a part of pre-show marketing that can be overlooked, especially if your team is small. Once you are committed to exhibiting at a trade show, plan your social media posts. Don’t leave anyone scrambling to utilize social media during the show; someone should always be assigned to that duty.

Staffing Issues

Whether staffers aren’t good at engaging with attendees, haven’t gone through the proper pre-show training or aren’t on the same page with company goals, staffing problems can hinder success in a big way. Staff and strategy are two of the first things to address as soon as you commit to exhibiting.

Wrong Shows

It’s not farfetched to say that exhibiting at the wrong kind of trade show for your company is one of the worst things you can do with your marketing budget. Researching trade shows, what types of attendees the show attracts and whether those attendees are the kinds of buyers you normally market or sell to are the first key indicators of whether a certain trade show is right for your company. Doing pre-show research to make sure you’re exhibiting at a show that fits your industry, scoping out the potential industry types that will be the attendees, and making sure to reach out to them plus current customers is extremely important. Don’t waste time or money at a show that’s not going to benefit your company in the long run.