4 Ways to Have Your Trade Show Fail

C.S. Lewis once said, “Failures are the finger posts on the road to achievement.” And while that’s true, we’re hoping we can save you a few hurdles so you’re off and running towards trade show success. There are no magic shortcuts to successful exhibiting; it’s a journey you have to dedicate yourself to. And while there are many helpful guides to successful exhibiting, like our:

3 Things Successful Exhibitors do Before Every Trade Show

9 Tips for Ultimate Trade Show Success

10 Life Hacks to improve your trade show!

You still have to go the extra mile and apply them. So below we’ve narrowed in on four sure-fire ways to set you back along your journey. We hope that you can avoid these pitfalls, and that your next trade show is a successful one!

trade show marketing

No Pre-Show Marketing.

Marketing generally takes time and money, so sometimes doing it before the show isn’t feasible. Companies often think that they’re going to be at the show already so they can market themselves then. There’s a lot of missed opportunity with this kind of thinking. Here are some simple pre-show marketing ideas that do not cost a lot of money or time, and should increase your booth visitors during the show.

  • Setting up drip (email) campaigns – there’s no better way to let your current clients and prospects know you’re going to be exhibiting than to send them a few emails telling them so. Offer incentives for stopping by your booth and saying hello. This is also a good way to get qualified leads to your booth.
  •           Social media marketing – most shows are on social media and there’s an opportunity to team up with their efforts in expanding your reach and visibility with new leads. By posting on their threads or by using Twitter hashtags (#) during your trade show, you’ll have more eyes on you, and new leads stopping by your booth. You can also use your own social media channels to push out giveaways or incentives for stopping by your booth or if your fans and followers share your messages.


Poor Display.

You’re surrounded by hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees. The aisles are so packed that attendees are being selective in the ones that they walk down. They stand at the end and look down before deciding if it’s worth it or not. Will they notice your booth? Does it stand out amongst your competitors? Does it represent your brand well? These are important questions, and if you answered ‘no’ to any of them you should be considering a new display or at the very least, an upgrade for your existing booth. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering your display.

  • When considering your next trade show display, there are some things to consider: Should you go portable or modular? Should you exhibit in a 10×10 space or larger? What color should you use in your next display? You need a display that is attention-grabbing and that has clear messaging and branding.
  • If you’re not ready to let go of your existing display, there are ways to refresh the look and make sure you’re hitting all the key points with it. Here, at GraphiColor Exhibits, we can reskin your old graphics (on any manufacturers display) and give your display a brand new look and feel. You can also revamp a stale display by adding technology to your booth space such as video monitors, mobile apps or games, iPads and iPad kiosks, interactive media, and more!


Trade Show Fail

Bad Booth Staffers.

While your display is the first thing people will notice in passing, your booth staffers are the lasting impression of your company that a show attendee will have. Think back on customer service you’ve experienced. You probably only remember the bad reps you talked too, not the good ones. Here are some good booth staffer and good booth behavior training points:

  • Booth staffers have to be enthusiastic and engaging. If they’re sitting at the table, playing on their phones – or worse – eating, they appear like they’re disinterested and bored. Attendees won’t want to stop and interrupt them.
  • There’s a difference between being enthusiastic and engaging and selling. If you have greeters in the aisle making conversation with attendees as they pass by, then you’ll be able to lead those attendees into your booth. When you get them in the booth then you should have experienced staff to continue the conversation without over-selling. Remember, 20% of the time you should be asking open-ended question to qualify and listening to their answers 80%. When they give the green light, then it’s your time to sell. Your booth staffers shouldn’t be the annoying and persistent sales reps in the middle of the mall that you go out of your way to walk around and avoid.


Leads, What Leads?  People Talking

Before the show ever happens your team should have a qualifying method in place as well as a follow-up strategy for after the show. 80% of the leads acquired during a trade show are never followed up. That’s crazy! Here are some strategies to make sure you don’t miss tons of valuable opportunities:

  • Before the show sit down with your team and figure out (if you don’t already know what your ideal client is. These are the types of attendees you’ll be on the lookout for while at the show. With your ideal client in mind think of 3-5 questions that will help qualify a person. Everyone in the booth should know and ask the same questions. This will help you quickly identify the attendees who could possibly be a match to your ideal client.
  • The show’s over, what’s next? Text your lead nurturing skills! Not everyone is a buyer when you want them to be. It’s important to build a relationship with them and ultimately, guide them down the sales funnel and convert them into a customer over time.


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