Guest post by Jessica Kane.
Most B2B businesses depend (at least to some degree) on trade shows to generate leads, get media coverage, and attract customers. Each time you participate in a trade show, your business must invest (a considerable amount of) money, and you must invest (a considerable amount of) your time.
Because of what you invest in the preparation for and execution of trade show participation, you can’t afford to make mistakes. With this in mind, there are five fatal trade show mistakes that you absolutely must try to avoid.
A Poor Display
One of the biggest mistakes a business can make in advance of a trade show is having an outdated or poorly designed display. A business that falls short in this area puts up a booth or sets up table signage that isn’t compelling and fails to attract potential clients or customers.
Yes, it costs money to craft a smart looking booth or table display for a trade show. However, the failure to make an adequate investment in creating an attractive trade show booth or display makes a lousy first impression and wastes your time and money attending the event.
To optimize your event marketing investment, make a professional display vendor part of your ecosystem of event technology and service providers.
Failure to Incorporate Social Media
Another major blunder a business can make when it comes to participating in a trade show is the failure to incorporate social media into the process. This includes both the failure to optimize the use of social media in the lead up to a trade show as well as neglecting to use social media during the actual event.
Today, trade show organizers typically are aggressive in incorporating social media into their events. These organizers often offer vendors (like you) the opportunity to be part of their coordinated social media efforts. Your business should fully take advantage of social media opportunities to avoid getting left in the proverbial dust.
Lack of Defined Goals
A significant flaw in planning for trade show participation is the failure to develop well-defined goals for the event. It’s not enough to simply use events to “get your name out there” or even to generate leads (in reality, badge scans—a small percentage of which may, perhaps, turn into actual sales leads).
In planning for, and participating in, a trade show, you need defined goals like generating a specific number of leads during the course of the gathering, plus…what else? Take advantage of speaking opportunities if possible, arrange meetings with trade media and analysts attending the show, connect with local customers, and set targets for event-related social media interaction. You need to develop specific objectives for the trade show and delineate precisely how you will accomplish those goals via participation in the event.
Ambushing Trade Show Attendees
Although you absolutely must attract trade show attendees to your booth or table, don’t drag people to your spot or ambush trade show participants.
The ideal approach is to create a real reason why an attendee will want to visit your booth. Combine pre-show social media and email promotion with an attractive booth and compelling messaging. By coming to you, rather than being badgered over to your booth or table, an individual will be by definition more receptive to learn about what your business does.
Inappropriately Staffing Your Booth or Table
A final fatal mistake at a trade show is staffing the booth or table with the wrong person or people. Too often, a business will put send staff a trade in a non-strategic or even haphazard fashion. For example, a business may send an intern, thinking all that really needs to happen at the trade show is to pass out information to potential clients or customers. Or they may send an employee on the trip as a reward (particularly if the trade show is in a warm locale during the winter months) without regard to that individual’s skills at inviting and engaging prospective customers.
What your business needs in terms of staffing your trade show display is a person, or persons, who have a solid background with your company. Trade show booth staff should be naturally outgoing as well as highly conversant in the products and services of your business. The proper team makes all the difference in meeting trade show goals.
Beyond the fatal errors you can make before and during a trade show, you need to avoid one other mistake after the event ends: follow up. Time and again, businesses of all types invest time and money in order to participate in a trade show, and actually achieve their event-related objectives, only to fumble post-event.
For example, a business may meet its goal regarding identifying s specific number of prospects. The post-trade show failure occurs when a business fails to follow up with these prospects in a timely manner. Indeed, a survey published in Entrepreneur magazine revealed that 80 percent of trade show exhibitors failed to follow up with prospects in a timely manner.
Jessica Kane is a writer for Every USB, where you can create your very own custom usb drive for your brand or company.