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Six Trade Show Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- By Mitch Tarr

Trade Show Marketing has changed a lot in the past few years.

As they say, there is the easy way and the hard way. I learned my trade show mistakes the hard (and expensive) way. I didn't know that I didn't know. You may be in that situation too.

If you use trade shows as a way to promote your business, you should think about what I am about to tell you and discover if these strategies can help you get better trade show results at a lower cost.

Trade Show Marketing Mistake Number One:

Not having a clear purpose and plan for each show.

This seems to be fairly obvious but so many companies I talk to are in the trade show rut. They have been in a show in the past and continue to stay in. Even if the show has shifted its focus, redefined its market, or has competition of its own.

If you have people in your company who say "We can't miss this show, what will people think?" or "What message does this send to the market place?" you may be in this rut.

It's clear it's not their budget they are talking about. A client of mine did a show for years and had a new product to launch. It was a product intended for a new market. The show they had done for years, didn't suit their market. But, they couldn't let go and couldn't afford to add new shows to the roster.

So instead of selecting a different show, one suitable to their new target market, they stayed in the same show, launched their product and puzzled over the poor reception of their product.

Trade Show Marketing Tip. Do you do a continuous review of your shows to ensure they stay in touch with your market, products, competition, and strategy?

Trade Show Marketing Mistake Number Two:

Investing heavily in a new (expensive) booth without knowing your show ROI.

What's an ROI you ask? It standsfor Return On Investment and is a tool the best marketers in the world use daily. Simply it means I am doing a particular show and expect a certain number of (hopefully qualified) leads and my budget is X amount of money.

Your cost per lead is leads divided by budget. How does that compare to other marketing strategies you run? Other shows? Past shows? Or if your expectation is to do a product launch? What is the number of interviews, media mentions and write ups you expect to achieve?

Trade Show Marketing Tip. No matter what your trade show goal is measure, measure, measure.

Trade Show Marketing Mistake Number Three:

Not thinking about your competition.

Trade shows are great. Delegates can go to the show, see what suppliers are doing in their industry, look for products that offer competitive advantage and incorporate them into their buying plans.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that while they are there they can make a direct comparison of you and your competitors. How they look, how they behave, how they represent themselves, and what they offer.

Now, people aren't looking for sameness. They are looking for difference. You all have the same professional booth, the same well trained professional staff, the same glossy brochures, and the same give-aways. So what is your competitive advantage? You must know first of all, how you separate yourself from your competition and have a clear message but you must also ensure you appear to be different on the show floor.

That's what's great about the internet these days. All of your competitors will have a web site with coming events in it. So between last years exhibitor list and your competitor's web sites there is no excuse for not knowing who will be there at the show.

Trade Show Marketing Tip. Figure it out! And separate yourself from the pack--your results will improve.

Trade Show Marketing Mistake Number Four:

Not training the booth staff.

Next time you attend a show, look for any of the following behaviors.

  • Cell phone usage

  • Exhibitor staff talking to each other

  • Talking about clients

  • Food and Beverages in the booth

  • Gum chewing

  • Corporate secrets-in the open!

You get the idea!

Perhaps any one of these is not an indictable offence, but have you seen more than one? Or even, was it the one thing that caused a potential prospect to pass you by. An opportunity that would never come again.

Often in shows people who are not professional sales reps attend and pull booth duty. Product managers, PR people, CFO's and others. Just being in a show doesn't mean they know selling skills and/or show etiquette.

Trade Show Marketing Tip. Hold training classes before the show, write out a show guide, and have a pre-show meeting on the show floor to remind everyone that behavior that would not be tolerated in the boardroom of your best client would not be tolerated on the floor either.

Trade Show Marketing Mistake Number Five:

Not trying to qualify a prospect.

IF you are attending trade shows to generate new leads, you will want to as closely as possible follow your selling process. The fact you are at a show and everyone is giving away yo-yos doesn't shouldn't keep you from doing what you do in real sales situations - qualify your prospect.

I had a client who sold to small business owners. Which of the following opening statements would have the best effect for him?

  1. Hi, would you like to see my product?

  2. Would you like a yo-yo?

  3. Do you own a small business?

If you picked C (I surely hope you did) you are on your way to leveraging your trade show investment.

It is critical to know if you are talking to the people who your marketing efforts are targeting. Just because someone is at a show doesn't mean they are your target audience. They could be media (yay), competition (groan), or tire kickers (yikes).

Trade Show Marketing Tip. Your success will be greater if you plan to qualify in the booth. Qualified prospects are like gold-you need to dig a little bit. Remember to train you staff (all of them) to ask the sales question. "Are you my market?"

Trade Show Marketing Mistake Number Six:

A weak follow up plan.

You have in your hand, a list of people who stopped by your booth (lets say they aren't qualified) or you have a stack of business cards (lets say they are qualified decision makers).

What you do next will make a difference to your result.
You must have a measurable, crisp, FAST follow up plan in place. This is one way you will most certainly separate you from your competition. Here is an area where most people fall down.

The scariest story I heard of was actually a friend of mine who worked a booth in a trade show and allowed someone else to take the business cards home. Can you guess? They lost the cards! There was no back up. They were GONE!

Now that leads to poor follow up. The onus was on the prospects to remember they talked with you and want to continue to talk with you.

Trade Show Marketing Tip. So plan and measure your follow up. That alone costs you no money and delivers a better result.

As you can see many of these mistakes are common sense. But common sense only if you have seen them work or not work in your favor.

Trade Show marketing is a skill. And as such can be developed to produce better results.

Discover how the best trade show marketing professionals in the world plan, execute and measure their results to continuously improve.

Mitch Tarr is the Author of:

"The Worlds Greatest Tradeshow Marketing Guide"

His site Tradeshow-Marketing.com is loaded with a wealth of knowledge for tradeshow and event planners.



 

Mitch Tarr
Tradeshow Consultant

Tradeshow-Mating.com

© Copyright
Mitch Tarr 2014
All Rights Reserved.

His site Tradeshow-Marketing.com is loaded with a wealth of knowledge for tradeshow and event planners.  

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