You have just booked a few square metre booth on a trade show? It is a good start if you want to meet your future customers… but this is just the beginning of a challenging adventure filled with numerous pitfalls. Here is a list of the main ones to avoid if you want to make the most of your investment.

1st deadly sin: Naivety

Not to set goals when you participate in a trade show is a major sin. Participation at a show is relevant only if it fits into a more comprehensive communication and marketing strategy. Knowing what you need to accomplish and what you want to collect will help you plan all aspects of your presence: booth set-up, products and services, documentation, animation, staff on site… Also, make sure that the objectives can be measured objectively at the end of the trade show, so that you can assess your actions and determine the relevance of your presence on future editions.

2nd deadly sin: Illiteracy

In every trade show, exhibitors receive an “Exhibitor Manual”, often a less than appealing PDF that no one wants to read through. Yet, its careful reading is essential for the preparation of your visit, because it is the comprehensive reference guide on all aspects of the show, including all the necessary information for the logistics of your presence: timing of set-up and dismantling, furniture rental, additional orders, legal obligations, delivery of packages, accommodation at preferential rates, additional services for visibility and sponsorship, opportunities to present conferences… An upstream detailed reading of this manual will allow you to avoid last-minute surprises, optimise your presence at the show… and sometimes even save money (for instance, you can get a discount if you order an “early bird” furniture.)

3rd deadly sin: Arrogance

Do not assume that visitors will come automatically on your booth just because you are here. It is essential to make yourself attractive and to stand out from others. The process begins well upstream, letting people know that you are exhibiting at this show. Send invitations to your customers, prospects and partners, inform the press in your area that you will be on the show, arrange appointments on your booth. Remember that the crowd attracts the crowd. The more “preprogramed” visitors you have on your stand, the more people will be enticed to stop by. Also remember to catch the eye of visitors and encourage them to stop by with strong graphic elements, animations… Be creative, and trust me: it is not always the most expensive ideas that work best.

4th deadly sin: Ignorance

The sales representatives who are present on your booth must be at the heart of your attention during the preparation of the show. Because you can spend as much energy and budget as possible to achieve the most beautiful of the stands (design, goodies, gifts…), but if the people who are on it are not trained to greet visitors in the right way, all your efforts will fizzle out. Too often, representatives on the stands are subcontracted hosts or hostesses who are not trained well enough to answer questions on the products and services they are presenting. Choose motivated employees, comfortable to speak in public and to address strangers. Take the time to train them and make sure they understand the objectives set for the salon, so that they can be the best ambassadors for your company.

5th deadly sin: Negligence

Visitors at the show are your guests. Even if it is just for a quick visit of a few minutes. They are visiting your business and you have to welcome them as it should be, from the first to the last one, even after a tiring day spent on your booth. Be friendly and smiling, go towards of visitors and show them that they are welcome and that you care about their needs. A messy stand with staff speaking among themselves does not make you want to stop by. During your presence at this show, remember that you are representing your company and that you do not always know who the person in front of you is. So, don’t miss an opportunity to make a good first impression.

6th deadly sin: Proudness

It is normal to be proud of your company and your product. But, remember that trade shows are also a great opportunity to discover the competition and take the live temperature of your market. So spend some time to walk around, check out other booths and meet your competition. All of them are not direct competitors, you might even enjoy it and extend your network of potential partners working in related and supplementary areas. Professional trade shows are a great opportunity to collect a range of information on different fields.

7th deadly sin: Laziness

Your work does not end when the show is over. Now, you have to do your homework! Even if in post-exhibition you are often caught up by other emergencies on your agenda, do not skip the step “follow-up of the contacts made during the show” at the risk of throwing away all the work done before and during the exhibition. Prospects who came to your booth probably also visited those of your competitors and returned home with a stack of business cards and brochures. Without any contact again from you, chances are strong that they will forget you and turn to a more diligent sales contact. Moreover, do not neglect the internal post-exhibition evaluation, allowing you to determine your performance according to the objectives you had set (deadly sin 1). Note down the successes and improvements for your next participations at a trade show, for the same one or for another. Remember that it is difficult to determine the ROI with only one edition, it may be appropriate to renew your presence to draw conclusions down the road.

Trade shows are projects that combine the need for organisation, creativity and perseverance. Investment is to be seen on the long term, as part of a communication strategy and sales development plan. Sometimes, the support of a communication and event agency may give you the little extra that others won’t have, ensuring a quick advance to attract crowds and achieve your goals. My French Communication Agency can be this little boost to help you optimise your presence on your booth.

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