Exhibitions and trade shows are an ideal platform at which to raise awareness of your company and expose your products and services to a diverse audience of potential customers who are attending specifically because they have an interest in your particular business sector.
Maximising the considerable benefits of exhibiting, such as capturing new leads, successfully promoting your brand and generating sales, requires planning, commitment and common sense. Even experienced exhibitors make mistakes, so whether you’re an old hand or showcasing your business for the first time at a trade show or exhibition here’s Aspect Exhibition’s guide to 10 common mistakes exhibitors make and how to avoid them.
1. Failing to publicise your attendance at an exhibition in advance
The sooner you can raise awareness that your company will be attending a trade show or exhibition the more visitors you’re likely to attract to your exhibition stand. Email your existing customers well in advance of the show and remind them by email again the week before the show. As soon as your exhibition space is confirmed, update your website or Facebook page with the relevant details (when, where and how to get to the exhibition), add stand and show information to your corporate email signature and consider placing adverts in any trade publications associated with your business sector.
2. Cutting corners on your exhibition stand and displays to save money
A good, eye-catching and effective exhibition stand is not an expense but an investment. If your exhibition stand and display materials are shabby and outdated or look basic and cheap the chances are you’ll lose visitors to the more enticing and better-equipped stands of your competitors. A stunning, high-quality bespoke exhibition stand from Aspect Exhibitions may cost less than you think, and is designed to create a positive impact for your business at show after show.
3. Attending an exhibition without a prior plan of action…
There’s more to trade show and exhibition success than simply standing around and waiting for visitors to show an interest. It’s vital to plan in advance how you intend to attract and engage visitors to your stand, and create goals related to these activities, for example how many new sales leads you’d like to generate or how many actual sales you want to achieve at the show. If you don’t have a clear idea in advance of the reasons why you’re attending and what you’ll be doing at the show there’s little point in attending at all.
4. … and not having a contingency plan to deal with unforeseen issues
What if you, or the staff you intended to attend the exhibition become unavailable at the last minute? What if your promotional materials are lost in transit or aren’t delivered on time? How will you cope if the audio-visual displays on your exhibition stand suddenly stop working? Anticipating problems that might arise and planning around them can prevent technical hitches from becoming unwanted exhibition showstoppers.
5. Misjudging the size of your exhibition stand
The largest exhibitions and trade shows can attract thousands of visitors on a daily basis and if your products or services are particularly popular, exhibiting with an exhibition stand that’s the size of a telephone booth is a major disadvantage. The ideal exhibition stand should be inviting, accessible and able to comfortably accommodate an appropriate number of visitors, whilst showcasing your business to best effect.
6. Not choosing exhibition stand staff wisely
You might have the most compelling, eye-catching and attractive exhibition stand in the room, but if it’s staffed by a team of people who appear disinterested, are unable to answer questions from potential customers on the spot or who are insufficiently experienced at generating sales your efforts in exhibiting will be wasted. Exhibition stand staff should smile, be friendly and knowledgeable and be those most capable of achieving your business performance targets for the show.
7. Ignoring the promotional power of social networks
Used correctly, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube are all valuable marketing channels likely to be used by visitors to your trade show or exhibition. Taking photos or a brief video of your exhibition stand takes no time at all with a smartphone and the results can be quickly posted to Facebook or YouTube. Tweeting regularly about your company’s experiences at a trade show or exhibition can help to raise awareness of your brand among a wide audience and may encourage more visitors to your stand.
8. Missing the chance to obtain free market research
Exhibitions provide an unrivalled opportunity to gather information about your company’s and your competitor’s products and services from the people who matter most: prospective purchasers and existing customers. Every visitor to your exhibition stand can provide valuable insights and feedback which can help you with everything from pricing to product development and let you know how your company compares with the competition, so the wise exhibitor will consider practical ways in which to capture this information.
9. Failing to follow-up potential leads after the show
Returning to your day-to-day business after a trade show or exhibition it’s easy to put off or – worse – forget about following up enquiries and potential leads you gained whilst you were there. Procrastination equals lost sales; your first action when a trade show ends should be to contact those attendees who expressed an interest in your products or services to reinforce the benefits of your company, demonstrate your interest in the customer and begin to establish what might prove to be a profitable relationship.
10. Not reviewing your performance at the exhibition
There’s no point in setting business targets and goals for an exhibition if you don’t subsequently review and measure your performance afterwards. Set aside time to analyse whether and why you exceeded or failed to meet visitor or sales goals. This is vital to understanding how you might do things differently – and better – at your next trade show or exhibition.