Attending a tradeshow or large-scale exhibition requires a major investment of time, products, advertising and manpower. Avoiding the most common mistakes made by exhibitors helps your company score a higher return on investment. You’ll be a step ahead of your competitors before the tradeshow even begins by eliminating these frequently committed mistakes:
Mistake #1 – Sending the Wrong Staff
While your sales staff is likely knowledgeable about the features and benefits of your goods or services, if prospects need technical or in-depth answers to their questions, it’s a good idea to include support staff or product experts as part of your show personnel.
Mistake #2 – Forgetting to Set Goals
Most companies do launch a new product or service without doing market research and setting goals for the promotion and sales of the goods or services. However, those same companies sometimes neglect to set goals for what they want to accomplish from attending a tradeshow or exhibition, which can be a costly mistake. If your team is not sure of the company goal for an exhibition, it’s hard to do effective show planning, promotion and follow-up.
Mistake #3 – Insufficient Pre-show Planning and Promotion
The old adage notes, “Most people do not plan to fail; they fail to plan.” Your brand or service may be the best in the industry, and you may have snagged the premier spot on the tradeshow floor, but if you arrive at your booth without your promotional materials or business cards for your personnel, it’s bound to affect your show profitability.
Make a checklist, which includes a floor plan of your exhibit space and details of all the necessary advertising and support materials such as brochure and catalog holders, table covers or literature displays. Order extra business cards if necessary for new personnel or those who may be in a new department or position. Check the items off as they are packed, and you’ll be assured of arriving on show day with everything you need.
Mistake #4 – Conflicting Sales Messages
Providing potential prospects with too much information can be an expensive mistake. Your promotional materials could end up in the nearest trash receptacle, or your prospects could be confused about the benefits of your products or services. As part of your goal setting for a tradeshow, decide on one main message and then present that message in all your advertising, promotional materials and even in the 60-second “elevator talks” your staff will use with booth visitors.
Mistake #5 – Failing to Indentify Your Target Market
Talking to unqualified prospects or time-wasters ties up valuable time your staff could be using to generate leads, prospects and sales for your company. While everyone wants to have lots of foot traffic to their booth, it’s much better to attract the right audience so your staff can focus on converting interested individuals to loyal customers.
Mistake #6 – Focusing on Immediate Sales
There does need to be a focus on closing deals on show specials and leveraging the emotional and excitement generated by a tradeshow to close sales, but some sales require longer to finalize than others do. Have a good system in place to follow up on the tradeshow leads to increase your conversion ratio over the months following an event.
Mistake #7 – Sloppy Data Management
How will you track booth visitors and measure their level of interest? What type of data management system do you have? Who will be in charge of lead collection and management? These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to answer to avoid making this serious tradeshow mistake.
Mistake #8 – Neglecting Lead Follow Up
If there is a deadly sin of tradeshow participation, it’s the failure to follow-up with the prospects generated by attendance. It’s possible to do everything else right but neglect this one area, with the resultant loss of sales and profitability. Contact, qualify and prioritize leads within 24 to 48 hours of show attendance to get the highest ROI on your time, personnel and promotional expenses.
Which of these killer tradeshow mistakes have you committed? How will you change your tactics to make your next tradeshow attendance more profitable?
Image credit via Flickr by MdAgDept