Is Your Trade Show Booth Making These 3 Costly Mistakes?

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Trade Show BoothThere’s no doubt, trade shows can be one of the best ways to find new clientele and customers. It’s targeted, it’s face-to-face and it comes with a built-in audience. A good trade show experience can truly change the success of your business. But if you’re finding that many of the attendees are passing your booth by, and you’re not making many valuable connections, it can be an incredible waste of time. Trade shows are expensive. Make sure you get a return on your investment, by making sure you’re not making one these 3 costly mistakes:

1. You’re trying to do too many things.

Once I ran a trade show booth for a foundation that funded many charities. I was told I needed to promote 3 different raffles, sell a fundraising coupon book, get emails for 2 different newsletters, and invite our booth guests to attend a charity event.

I knew, before I even started, that this was not going to work. It was far too much to say to someone passing by casually. So, after an hour or so of this not working, I chose the one raffle that was ending soonest and promoted that, and only that. I made over $400 in two hours for the raffle when previously I had made nothing.

What this means:

  • You need to choose one goal for each trade show you attend. Not two. Not none. One. Your goal could be to have more people sign up for your newsletter. You could have your goal be to make appointments with your sales team. Your goal could be to have people like your page on Facebook. Whatever it is, it must just be one. This does mean you ignore other business creating opportunities, but helps you to stay focussed and on track.
  • Have your booth designed to work towards whichever goal you choose. For instance, if you want more people signed up for your newsletter, put an iPad with a sign-up form on a small table, and rope off a small strip for signers-up to line up. Have an unmissable sign up explaining what’s in it for them to sign up, and put an arrow on it with a call to action, pointing to the iPad. Clearly label the roped off section as where they should line up. This will ensure that a. if a line-up ensues, it won’t get in the way of anything else and b. if you and the rest of the people tending your booth are busy with other people, passers by can still see what you’re offering, what your goal is and how to sign up.
  • Train your employees tending the booth what to say, concisely, and if you find, throughout the day that saying things differently is working better, don’t be afraid to switch it up. You have mere seconds to capture each person as they are walking by. Use those seconds wisely.

2. You’re not offering your booth visitor anything.

People who are attending trade shows are no different from people outside of trade shows. They don’t really care about your company or services until you show them what it will do for them. So many trade show booths get passed by because there is no clear gain for the attendee, at least not one that will make them stop.

What this means:

  • Offer your visitor something. A free pen, a chance to win, a sample.
  • Make sure what you offer them is something that at least has the potential to create a relationship. If they’re walking away with a cookie, the cookie will be eaten and you will be forgotten in no time. If you offer them a flash drive with your logo and web site on it, they might visit your site and every time they use that flash drive, they will be reminded of you and your trade show booth. This recurring recollection is an extremely effective way of building brand loyalty, even before that person ever needs or wants your products or services. When they finally do, you can be sure they will think of you. Other ways to offer something that has the potential to create a relationship with your visitor are: a contest with great prizes for newsletter subscribers, a pen with your web site on it, or a reusable bag that is branded for your business.
  • Ensure you booth is designed to highlight what the visitor will get from stopping in and chatting. Signage and t-shirts worn by attendees are a great way to accomplish this.

3. Your booth is disorganized and cluttered.

Nothing is more of a turn-off than a mess. When your booth is cluttered with brochures and catalogues and product spec sheets, etc etc, people take one look at it and think your booth looks like it might require extra effort to understand. So, they walk away.

What this means:

  • If you have more than one brochure, invest in a brochure stand that allows you to organize them and take up less space on your booth’s table
  • If you have multiple catalogues, keep them out of sight and only bring them out when you need to show your visitor a product or two. Your talking to them should be enough to draw them in to wanting to see your catalogue if they are a potential customer or client.
  • Keep your signage streamlined and use minimal language to get your point across.
  • Use your branding colours and try to stick to just those.
  • Keep your own pen, phone, notebook, tablet, purse, drinks, food and whatever else you have with you at the trade show well out of sight.
  • Tidy up after each visitor.

If you follow these tips and make sure you’re not committing the 3 costly mistakes above, your trade show booth experience should be a positive one.

What are some tips you have for trade show booth vendors? Let us know in the comments below! To get help with your trade show booth, visit our trade show page!

By Courtney Heard

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