Avoid these 4 common trade show mistakes

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“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”  -Benjamin Franklin

Whether you’re a fan of trade shows or you absolutely despise them, the fact of the matter is they are an integral factor to an overall successful marketing strategy. And while there are some tasks in business we would rather avoid, a trade show should not be one of them. Just make sure you are reaping the benefits of standing in a 10×10 space for 8+ hours with a permanent smile on your face.

Here are just four mistakes we’ve seen time and time again. Preparation is the key – before, during and after the show – to insure your business prospers from the hard earned sales leads collected and new connections made.

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Mistake #1: Showing up unprepared
Make a checklist the week before the show and triple check the list. Pens, business cards, note pads, mints and anything you think you will need to get you through the day. If you are uncomfortable or unprepared your potential clients will sense this and possibly avoid a connection with you. Also, showing up unorganized may be a complete turn off for some, so preparation is the first step to a successful trade show.

Mistake #2: Cluttered or outdated graphics
Branding stuck in 2008? Although this is only 10 years ago, to the graphics world it might as well be a century. You can still have bright, bold and imaginative graphics without them being too chaotic or dated. A clear, minimal, straight forward message is all that is needed considering most people take less than ten seconds to process who you are and what you do. Minimizing text, bullets, and avoiding too many photos is key to making your graphics stand out.

Mistake #3: Leaving your booth unoccupied
While an occupied booth seems like common knowledge when exhibiting at a trade show, take a look around and you’ll see an empty booth is more common than you think. Every time you leave your booth unattended, you have the potential to miss out on one (or more) promising leads that may take your business to the next level. If you’re lucky enough to have your booth staffed by more than one person, take turns wandering around the exhibit hall to visit with vendors or other current clients and have the face to face relationship that’s so important in business these days. Walking around the trade show floor has the potential to open up those next level business opportunities you’ve been searching for.

Mistake #4: Not following up on leads
Don’t be left spending a considerable amount of marketing dollars on  attending trade shows yet neglecting to follow up on the leads gathered. Sound familiar? Try designating one or two employees to focus solely on following up on the leads collected and sit back to see what happens. Prime time for follow ups is usually within a few business days after the show has ended so you don’t want to miss out on those precious opportunities.

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Making mistakes in the trade show process is bound to happen, but it’s up to you to take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Don’t get caught spending your hard earned time and money investing in tradeshows and fall flat once you’ve walked out of the exhibit hall.

Take the advice of Mr. Franklin – prepare.