Common Trade Show Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them).

Trade shows can be a great place to gain new contacts, get information about your field, strut your stuff, and attract new customers.  Like everything else in business, however, exhibiting at a trade show requires an investment of time and money.  That investment can be wasted if your display that does not work for you.  Here are some common mistakes businesses make at trade shows, and how you can avoid them.

Going to the Wrong Show

Not every trade show is a good choice for every business.  Go to the wrong show and attendees will simply not be interested in your display.  For example, if you sell hunting and fishing gear, you probably should not go to a trade show focused on gardening or cooking products. You can decide if a trade show is a good fit for you by talking to colleagues. Many venues also post lists of the exhibiting companies on their websites. A good show for you will be one that showcases products related to yours and/or one attended by your competitors.

Poor Staffing Decisions

Nothing turns off potential customers quite like rude, aloof, or bored-looking exhibitors. Your exhibitors are the face of your company. They can negatively affect your company’s reputation if they’re too busy doing crosswords or chatting with each other to talk to attendees. Don’t rely on rank to select good staffers; go with outgoing, enthusiastic employees who love meeting new people. Make sure they are well groomed and leave their smartphones in their cars (unless electronic devices are crucial to your business, of course).

Unprofessional Signage

Printing signs and other large documents costs money, and it can be tempting to just pull out the magic markers and tell the interns to keep busy. Don’t. Hand-written signs signal a lack of professionalism. Also be especially careful to check your signs for spelling, grammar or other typographical errors before you OK the final proof. Your HR department most likely rejects resumes that contain spelling errors. Your signs are your resume, and potential customers can and will “circle file” you for the same errors.

No “Magnet”

Trade shows are the ultimate example of competition. Each booth wants to attract as many visitors as possible. Therefore, your display needs to have something unique or attractive in order to capture attention. It could be a quirky (yet still professional) give-away, an eye-catching enlarged photo, or colorful banners. Also, never underestimate the power of candy to steer people your way.