If you have ever planned or worked a tradeshow for your company, you know that they require a lot of careful planning if you want to come home with a success under your belt. Most marketers know of the big mistakes, like failing to promote your presence at an upcoming booth, or worse, investing too much of your budget in a show that is not targeting the proper audience. However, there are several other components of successful tradeshow planning and execution that are often overlooked.

Here are five of the lesser known tradeshow mistakes and how to avoid them.


1. Forgetting That Size Really Does Matter

When participating in any tradeshow or convention, it is important to know your show, your audience, and your competitors. If the show is crowded or you have a small display, your booth can look overcrowded. On the other hand, if your booth is too big, it can be perceived as having a lack of visitors, causing passersby to avoid it. Lastly, if you pick a booth size smaller than your competitors, you may appear to be the underdog.

The best approach is to own a scalable display that can be adjusted depending on the show and crowd. Some companies find that renting or leasing a booth for a year is an excellent way to educate themselves about the right size and type of booth to buy and to plan the ideal layout to capture the attention of potential customers.

2. Selecting Promotional Products For The Sake Of Having Something To Give Away

While anything that you offer to a visitor that has your company name on it has the potential to increase brand awareness, you must always consider the popularity and functionality of the item. Promotional Products that will most benefit your sales endeavors are those that are useful items related to your industry.

When you select promotional items, take your time. You should have a goal, as well as a budget in mind. Also, consider having multiple levels of giveaways. At a pharmaceutical show, for example, you might want to give all visitors a pedometer, a freezable chill bag that looks like an IV bag, or stress ball. For your current customers and hot prospects, you might choose a more expensive first aid kit or high-end sports bottle.

3. Not Springing For Nightly Cleaning

To cut costs, you may decide to forgo professional cleaning services, thinking your sales staff will have plenty of time to straighten up at each day’s end. However, signing up for professional services will ensure that your booth is always free of clutter and has clean carpeting and a sanitized counter. Your booth is a reflection of your business so you must always present a pristine exhibit space for your visitors, ideally without adding more items to your own to-do list. A clean booth will represent your company much more effectively than one with tacky counters and an overflowing trash bin.

While someone else may be doing the dirty work, it is still important that your team spruces up a bit by wiping down any technology or tradeshow games, as well as restocking collateral and any other items accessible to attendees.

4. Overdoing Your Social Time

Your booth is a great site for networking with customers and colleagues, but you should keep it businesslike, as other visitors may not want to interrupt a perceived private party. In the evenings between show days, you and your staff, along with customers, may go out to enjoy the evening at a restaurant, sporting event, or club. While a social break is well deserved, you do not want your group to be mistaken for a frat party. Remember that your company is always on display. A successful sales staff is one that keeps the socializing professional, even after hours.

It is important to use your down time effectively. An hour before the show, quarterback the pre-show staff meeting.  Be highly detailed by reviewing key messages and talking points. Remember to always set realistic goals for the day.  After the show, spend 10 minutes debriefing.  Distribute hot leads and discuss practices that worked well during the day. This will allow you to identify necessary adjustments for the next day.

5. Failing To Pack Or Unpack In An Orderly Fashion

Many exhibitors make the mistake of hastily throwing show materials into their cases before or after a show. The result? Broken or damaged booth parts or forgotten items that will cost you time and money to replace or buy onsite. Worse, a hasty packing job for the trip home could result in lost leads or important notes. A better method is to have a trade show packing list to guide your packing and unpacking.

For better planning and more successful shows, avoid these common but lesser-known mistakes.

About the Author
Jon Edelman provides exciting trade show marketing ideas, including advice about prize wheels, customizable scratch-off cards, money blowing machines, and other exciting trade show attractions. With years of experience in the trenches, he is an expert on booth displays, lead generation techniques, and networking with trade show vendors. Helping to build a referral-generating system, his ideas continuously lead to a boost in sales and revenue.