Avoid these 4 common trade show mistakes

“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Mistake #2: Cluttered or outdated graphics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.

#1 Trade Show Success Factor

Trade show success depends upon applying 1 most important piece of criteria.
Read about what the absolute number 1 factor to trade show success is.

A successful trade show booth space is dependant on just one factor — your graphics.  And, if executed with proper planning, high resolution imagery, and maybe the help from a professional graphic designer your booth will be the busiest space at the show.  The placement, coloring, and logo layout execution is critical to ensure the first impression generates the buzz from attendees throughout your days at a trade show.  Keep in mind: studies conducted by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research have found that visitors peruse a display about 3 to 5 seconds before making the decision to walk on or stop to talk.  A trade show is the most ideal opportunity for businesses to personally interact with their exact targeted market making the graphics of your trade show display the #1 success factor in hitting it big.

3 Reasons Why A Branded Booth Space Is So Important  

Reason #1
Who cares?  

Do you think attendees really care about what your trade show booth graphics look like?  One might say absolutely because at the end of the day your branded graphics will make the difference whether attendees will WANT to take the time to stop and listen to what your booth staff has to say.

Reason #2
No one wants the question mark face.

It’s a very common facial expression given when attendees glance over at your booth space, then glance at you, then glance back towards your booth space ultimately just not being able to connect the dots and ‘Get It’ aka get your point and purpose of your brand. You don’t want this face to happen!

Reason #3
How’s about a big plate of embarrassment!  

That’s what you’ll be handed time and time again during the show.  If attendees aren’t caring enough to stop or when they wind up with a big question mark face the outcome will be the booth staff standing around just plain old embarrassed at how the branded booth space behind them is being presented.  You don’t want this either!

3 Simple How To’s to Tackle Your Booth Space Graphics

How To #1
Keep It Simple.  

The key to creating the most effective and attractive display layout is to just keep it simple.  Create your graphics around one central idea, USP, core service tagline or concept.  This way you can keep the text to a minimum making the entire concept easier to comprehend within the 3-5 seconds.

How To #2
Logo and Layout.

First and foremost your business’s logo and branding should be placed front and center.  The addition of your tagline or slogan should be placed near the logo to physically connect the two together.  Plus, ALWAYS put your web address.  It’s much easier to remember than any phone number or physical address.

Readability factor #1  Attendees read from left to right.
Readability factor #2 The average eye can read 1” of text height for every 10ft they are standing away.

How To #3
High Color Graphics.

3D Eye-catching, life size, full of color graphics is the difference between a strongly communicated brand and a weak one.  Branding and coloring is what will ignite the eyes and brain connection to force attendees to stop and take notice of your trade show display space.  Our biggest tip is to ensure you’ve chosen graphics that are high resolution to truly gain the impact you are striving for.  High resolution imagery will carry your brand and take it beyond actual words.

3 Seconds of Trade Show Face Time

There is only 3 seconds to attract the attention of trade show attendees.
Spark and inspire trade show attendees to stop and visit your booth.

YOUR MAIN GOAL: APPEAL TO YOUR CUSTOMERS’ NEEDS AND WANTS in a message that is short and to the point.  At a trade show you have 3 SECONDS… that’s it. That is all the time you have to spark the passers-by and inspire them to ask questions that convert into sales.

Here are some simple tips and tricks that may ignite the creative side in you allowing your company to display its best image.

1. BIG letters?
A rule of thumb is the average eyesight can read approx. 1″ of text for every 10′ they are standing away.

2. Should you use photos or illustrations? Photos are always preferred over illustrations. Photos are more credible, easily understood and have a bigger impact with the consumer. Take your own photos or for generic photos use high quality stock photography.

3. How many words should be used?
Keep it under 10 words or less and no more than 5 lines. Lead with your strongest benefit first then the next relevant benefits to follow.  For example, if you have 30-year warranty and no one else does, shout it out.

Two simple tips to follow:
• A single sentence, phrase, or word
• Use concrete facts that are a benefit – what makes you different

Most importantly, keep to your branding guidelines and keep all text within the top half of the display design.

Final note: by clearly communicating your company information in as few words as possible will benefit you in the end. Showing large, high quality photo(s) & colors will promote your products and make it easier for people to remember you.

Take a look at our online trade show display portfolio to see what others have done by Affordable Exhibit Displays or ask our graphic design team for help in designing your new trade show display.

How To Let Constructive Criticism Be Your Guide

Being open to design help will benefit any trade show display
Letting a fresh pair of eyes can help take your message to the next level.

Many times you have looked at your own exhibit so many times that it’s at a point where you don’t ‘see’ it anymore.  Accepting constructive criticism is best to listen to when you can’t see your brands clear message anymore. The solution is a fresh set of eyes.  A fresh set of eyes may make all the difference in the world.

To know where to begin on evaluating how your current booth is working you’ll need to ask and outer source – someone who is not related to your business or industry is best. Have someone who is in no way related to the trade show industry or your company look at your exhibit and/or current marketing materials.

Give your ‘fresh set of eyes’ a good look at your exhibit booth and materials. Ask yourself these questions:

What do they notice first?

What impression do they get of your company?

What emotions do your graphics evoke?

Record their impressions and compare how they measure up to your marketing objectives. This fresh set of eyes will be viewing your booth the same way the attendees do – with no prior knowledge or preconceived notions of how the exhibit is ‘supposed’ to look.

:: Case Study ::

A prime example is one of our returning customers, Custom Service Solutions.  They came to our graphic design team and wanted a small self-standing sign to distribute to the machine vendors that would be attending the same trade show as them.

They submitted their own artwork and asked our opinion about the layout. We asked, “What’s the main goal?”: to inform customers about a drawing for a free Firetrace System. Our comment back: there is no clear, single message, there is just too much going on. So, with a bit of discussion Custom Service Solutions decided to allow us to come up with a single targeted message.

Here’s our point: by opening up the door for constructive criticism Custom Service Solutions ended up with a clear, concise design that will draw customers in to ask “How can I qualify?” Thus, in turn opening the door to obtain a lead, close a sale, or boost their ROI for the show.