5 Tradeshow Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid

The rich and complex world of tradeshows is one that takes some patience, a lot of strategy, and an even larger amount of experience to be able to navigate successfully. The only way to really fine-tune your company’s tradeshow presence is to attend as many as you can, gaining more exposure for your brand in the process, while learning all of the ins and outs of the tradeshow marketing landscape, including how to network, how to sell visitors on your brand and how to influence attendees and generate leads.

From creating catchy and attention-grabbing peripherals like banners, stand-up displays, video presentations or interactive slideshows to giveaways, promotional materials and sell sheets, your number one goal at a tradeshow should be figuring out the best way to stand out among the crowd of booths and displays that line the convention hall floor.

To get your company noticed at a tradeshow and increase the traffic to your booth, you might have to think outside the box a little bit – step outside of your comfort zone and get creative. But whatever you do, make sure you avoid these five common tradeshow marketing mistakes:

  1. Giveaways that don’t have a purpose.

    When it comes to tradeshows, giveaways are always a great idea because they adhere to one of the simplest, purest truths in our society: people love getting free stuff. So giveaways are a good thing, with one important stipulation: they should be connected in some way with your brand or the product you are promoting at the show.

    If you’re a B2B company in the automotive industry presenting at an industry tradeshow, giving away a free, branded Frisbee to each of your booth’s visitors won’t really help them to make the connection with your brand, nor does it communicate anything particularly important or increase recognition of your company. A truly successful giveaway should take a lot of careful thought and creativity and should be used as a reward or gift to show your visitors that you appreciate their participation in a demonstration or presentation and for taking the time to hear about your product or service.

  2. Not following up on your leads.

    One of the main goals of attending an industry tradeshow as a B2B company is to obtain new leads and use them to grow your customer base and build new relationships that can lead to increased revenue for your business. However, tradeshows are only as effective as a B2B marketing tool as your willingness to follow up with those leads once the show is over.

    Allowing too much time to pass before following up with your tradeshow leads won’t net you many results and you run the risk of diminishing the impact that your presentation had on them at the show. As time passes, your leads will lose interest if you don’t follow-up promptly and in an engaging manner as you nurture them through the sales process.

  3. Failing to properly leverage or promote your tradeshow appearance.

    If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Yes, it does. But if your company attends a tradeshow and you fail to promote it or announce your attendance in any of your marketing channels, will anybody know you’re there? They may find out eventually, but why make things harder than they have to be?

    Take advantage of the many opportunities for pre-show marketing, such as advertising in industry publications and promoting your attendance, coordinating email blasts and direct mail campaigns promoting the event and even communicating through other channels like social media and press releases to get the word out.

  4. Understaffing your tradeshow booth.

    During the actual show itself, you’ll have visitors coming up to your booth and (hopefully) engaging with you about your brand and your product or service. Having a strategy for what you will present at the show and the manner in which you’ll present it is obviously of vital importance. However, what’s also important is making sure that the people who will be attending the event and representing your company at the booth are knowledgeable enough about the company that they will be able to answer any questions directed at them.

    Tradeshows are an excellent opportunity to educate others about your product and deliver your brand’s most important messages, but the opportunity can fall flat if your booth is understaffed and not well-equipped to handle an influx of visitors inquiring about your product or service. Preparation is key when it comes to tradeshows and making sure your booth is properly staffed is an important part of that.

  5. Not attracting visitors to your booth. 

    We discussed giveaways as a potential draw to attract visitors to your booth, as long as they have a connection to your product or your brand. But there are other ways to attract visitors to your booth that don’t involve giving away free stuff. Attending a tradeshow with a stack of brochures or sell-sheets and leaving with the same stack is certainly discouraging, but also entirely avoidable. Don’t end up alone in your booth desperate for anyone to show interest – create an engaging presentation or booth display that allows visitors to interact with you and your brand and sends them away with something valuable, whether it’s a solution to a problem, important information or something else that will drive them to connect with your company when the event is over.

To learn more about how Timmons&Company can help your business plan and prepare for your next tradeshow, visit our website or email Bob Kent at bk@timmonsandcompany.com. You can also keep up with our weekly blogs and other social media posts by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter or visiting our LinkedIn page.

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Posted on September 29, 2014 in advertising, branding, Campaigns, Creative, Engagement, Interactive Marketing, Marketing, Marketing trends, Positioning, Strategy

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