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Common Trade Show Booth Mistakes, Plus Ideas to Make Yours Stand Out

Common Trade Show Booth Mistakes, Plus Ideas to Make Yours Stand Out

Every year, companies large and small attend trade shows to connect with new and existing clients. The investment of time and money can be substantial, but if done right can lead to significant business opportunities.

According to CEIR (the Center for Exhibition Industry Research), 39.2% of B2B marketing funds were used on trade show exhibitions in 2011. With so much money being pumped into trade show booths, marketers who want to stand out from the crowd must have the right strategies. Avoid big mistakes, break the mold and embrace the following ideas to stand out in the exhibit hall.

A boring display won’t draw them in, but creativity will.

Signage often creates your first brand impression on the trade show floor. Don’t roll out a tired booth. Even on a small budget, fresh graphics and updated paneling or displays draw potential clients’ eyes. The money spent on booth space and flying in a representative will be wasted if you skimp on the visual elements. Invest wisely in your trade show by making your display vibrant and clear.

With a few creative stunts, you can shine among fancy pop-up displays and expensive exhibits on a very limited budget. Partner with the local zoo to bring some wildlife to your trade show booth. Set up a video game console competition to tempt passers-by. A recent show had a ring-toss competition for bottles of wine. You can also hire entertainers or spa professionals to pamper or wow your guests. Make sure to clear any stunts with the venue and show beforehand as some ambitious strategies may not be allowed.

Don’t ambush, invite.

Popping out from your booth only to force your attendees into a conversation is a surefire way to lose a potential client.

Being proactive, friendly and approachable is key, along with having a reason to stop by. According to CEIR, 59% of trade show attendees prefer interactive demonstrations. Maybe it’s a product demo, or maybe it’s something unrelated like a chair massage, putting green or shoe shine.

Got promotional items? They’re even better when won for spinning a wheel, sinking a putt or landing a ring on a bottle (again, check with the host to see what’s possible). People love winning and they’ll remember your brand if they had fun playing.

Let people feel your presence. Have fun. Nothing beats being friendly and generous! Sticking around for after-parties and impromptu gatherings at the bar or lounge can often land the best prospects.

Don’t let ego or your competition lead you into overspending to acquire massive booth space or sponsorships when you can build great relationships in a breakout suite or cocktail hour. A smaller booth with catchy signage like a video wall along with an after-hours private suite or reception can open the door to quality conversations and opportunities at the same or lower spend as a big booth.

Pay attention to personnel.

Remember, your booth’s staff represent your company’s image and ability. They need knowledge and energy. Company ambassadors should not only provide competent answers to booth visitors, but be active and engaging hosts in your space. Sending your best salesperson from another region may work better than choosing a less outgoing local employee. Better yet, send a dynamic team to make sure you have adequate coverage — a lunch or bathroom break could mean a missed opportunity.

Initial outreach lays networking groundwork. Take the time to research the attending list. Send potential contacts a personal email or connect on LinkedIn to let them know that you’d love to meet them at the upcoming event.

Unshackle yourself from the display. The connections you make in the hall may introduce you to potential clients, or even become clients themselves so get out and engage with your fellow sponsors.

And of course, don’t forget to follow up after the trade show. Nurture these new business relationships.

Leverage the power of design ingenuity.

Everyone loves beautiful design. At a trade show or conference, you and your booth should always stand out. Ensure that your trade show exhibit is an experience, from signage to design. Whatever your budget, a great design, print and technology partner like DGI Communications can help you stand out and land significant business. Contact us today to get started.

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