5 Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing at Trade Shows

trade-show-marketingLook at me! Marketing is an effort to connect with people seeking your services or products. But at a trade show, it’s at the ground level — literally. That’s why trade show marketing is a specialty of its’ own and requires a lot of planning.

Business owners new to the trade show arena often realize just how much effort goes into these events. If your business is trying out the trade show scene, here are five mistakes to avoid:

  • Not enough planning. Trade shows must be booked months in advance. You’ll also need to know the measurements of the space. Printing can take weeks or longer, so you’ll need to organize all brochures or handouts at least a month or two ahead of time. Find out as much as you can in advance about the show, their requirements, what other vendors do, etc. You’ll also need to do quite a bit of pre-show marketing to let people know you’ll be there. Finally, you’ll need to have some backup plans in place because undoubtedly, something will go wrong.
  • No goal. Why are you going to the trade show? How will you know if you were successful? Set a specific goal, such as generating X number of leads for the sales team or signing up X number of people on the newsletter. That way when you come back you can figure out the cost to generate each of those leads and later figure out how many converted. Was it worth it? What can you adjust to improve next year’s ROI?
  • Lack of branding and a message. Putting up a sign and spreading some brochures on the table is not good enough. Your booth needs to have a clear message that is easily conveyed to anyone walking by. Think of your table as a call to action; you’re calling someone to come over and sign up, buy, do. Every item in your space must work together to create this message, from the backdrop to the materials. And don’t forget: think big. Small or crowded graphics and words are not going to get anyone’s attention.
  • No budget. How much can a table and backdrop really cost? A lot! You can spend thousands creating a fancy booth, flying team members to the event and paying them, printing brochures, and buying swag. Before you begin, make sure you have a budget set and stick to it. While you may have to adjust that budget as you learn more about trade show marketing, you can decide which items are most important for this first foray.
  • Lack of engagement. Your free gift is lame and just there to give something away. Your team is staring at their phones or laptops instead of looking up and out at people. No one is posting to Instagram or other social media platforms. Your booth feels like a tumbleweed might blow by any moment. Trade shows are a chance to meet in person with people interested in your company/product/service. Your team should be trained and ready to smile. If you have swag, make sure it’s something people might actually want or use and not just a throwaway. Think creatively about how to get people doing something at your table or booth. How can you draw some attention?

What questions do you have about preparing for a trade show? Contact us for help designing your next booth and associated marketing materials.

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