6 Mistakes to avoid for your trade show appearance


An attractive booth design presented with the right engagement activities will draw your target audiences to your brand. But getting it right, requires you to juggle hundreds of decisions and actions right up till its showtime. Unless, you are an experienced exhibitor, with over dozens of trade shows under your belt, you are going to make mistakes.

And that’s where we can help you, as a booth builder who also oversees booth projects from concept to dismantle we’ve seen hundreds of brands that made their trade show presence a hit. So as an industry insider, here are six mistakes you should avoid at trade shows.


1. Not having a Clear Theme

Your trade show booth isn’t a store or an online retail platform, where you wait for visitors to pick what they like and then approach you. Trade shows are competitive! You and other companies are competing for attention from visitors in the same industry.

You need to define your target audience and have specific trade fair objectives in mind. Your objective will decide what your ROI looks like and your target audience will decide your trade show booth ideas, your engagement strategies, and your marketing campaign. So don’t participate to get your name out, have a clear theme for a specific audience in mind.


2. Too much branding

Consider your trade show booth as a billboard on a highway. You should get your brand message across with the least amount of words, graphics and images. Don’t place paragraphs of text or a photo collage on your graphics or banner, save that your marketing material. Speaking of marketing material, don’t put your pamphlets, brochures, branded giveaways and product sheets on the counters.

It clutters the booth as the day goes on because no matter how neat your staff keeps your booth, all that marketing material lying around will look messy and leave the impression that no one has entered your booth all day. Only have key pieces of marketing material out, this makes your booth look cleaner, and give your staff the opportunity to interact with customers, for when they ask for a leaflet.


3. Not networking outside your booth

Trade shows are events for businesses to socialize, so don’t just limit yourself to your booth. Move beyond your booth for rent and explore the trade show. Take advantage of every opportunity a trade show offers. Participate in discussion panels, conferences, attend lounge events and after-parties.

Do more than just greet prospects at your booth, set-up a breakfast or dinner meeting with them. Face to face is after all about getting to know potential vendors, clients and partners.


4. Not taking staffing seriously

Your booth design is the billboard that gets prospects in, but after that, it’s up to your staff to make a positive impression. You need knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff members to talk with your visitors. The staff that lacks the training and interpersonal skills to explain your brand to visitors and potential customers will sour the goodwill that your booth design has built up.

Motivation is easy to remedy, make sure your staff gets breaks, has a defined role and has an amazing booth design to be proud of. Expertise is something that must be addressed during training. Don’t expect your staff to know about your brand and your mission at the trade show. Only training can fix this gap. Your training should also address any gaps in interpersonal communication and trade show etiquette.


5. Failing to take collect data

You are putting this much effort and money to get returns. So make sure you collect, categorize and forward your leads to your sales and marketing team. Have a software automation process in place to make collecting data from prospects easy.

Of course, visitors are not going to feel comfortable sharing their personal information. To ease the transition by making it worth their time. Give something of value in exchange for their time. This can be a giveaway, a discount coupon, or store credit.


6. Bad booth layout

Having a table between visitors and staff, putting up brochure stands at entrances, having a presentation zone in between your product display. All these choices make it difficult for visitors to comfortably explore your booth at their own pace. These unintentional physical barriers raise the bar for entry in the minds of prospects, even if they are interested.

So when planning your layout, think in terms of how they all interconnect. Create zones to plan your layout better, such as a reception zone, a presentation zone, a product display zone and a relaxation zone. By dividing your key areas into zones, you’ll get a big picture view of how they should be placed in relation to potential traffic flow. The main principle to remember when planning your booth layout is to make your visitor’s journey from the entrance to exit pain-free and memorable.

By being mindful of these six mistakes you will improve your trade show appearance and take a step closer to successfully achieve your exhibiting objectives.