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Top 10 Mistakes Exhibitors Make And How To Avoid Them

Posted on 20th Mar 2015 @ 3:04 PM

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When it comes to exhibiting at a trade show or event it is not just about all the things you should be doing; it is also helpful to think about the things you should not do. Here are a few mistakes that people make at exhibitions which can jeopardise success.

1. Attending the Wrong Exhibition

Before booking a stand space research the event to make sure it is right for you and your business. Consider who else is exhibiting, whether the audience is likely to be your target market and how many people attend. Also bear in mind the cost of the exhibition to you – stand, staff, travel etc. – and whether it is a worthwhile investment. And remember, just because you have had success at a show before doesn’t mean that you will again – look critically at every event each year to ensure you will get a return on your investment. Perhaps another event might be better for you this year?

2. Failing to Plan

As the saying goes ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’ and how true this is when it comes to exhibitions. It is crucial that you plan everything to do with your attendance at an exhibition. Start with clear, measurable objectives for why you are exhibiting, what you are going to exhibit and how you are going to exhibit. Plan your marketing strategy for your stand, your staff and don’t forget to plan for what happens after the event – follow ups and reviewing performance.

3. Poorly Trained Staff

Having staff who do not know why they are at the exhibition or anything about the products/services you are trying to market will be a big turn off for visitors. You might have the best looking stand in the room but if your people do not know what they are doing then the whole event will be a waste of time and money.

Employees on the stand are the face of your business; they cannot just turn up and improvise. Ensure staff members are briefed beforehand on the overall exhibition objectives, why you are exhibiting, what you are marketing and what you expect of them before, during and after the show.

4. Unwelcoming Stand

Imagine a stand with one person sitting down looking bored with their arms crossed, one person busy looking at their phone and one person eating their lunch, the entrance to the stand is blocked by a big banner stand or a display counter and you can’t really tell what the stand is all about unless you venture across the daunting threshold. Does this tempt you to find out more?

It is so important that staff members are welcoming and approachable – no using phones, eating or sitting down on the stand. Make sure people are ready and willing to engage visitors in conversation rather than putting them off.

Also think about the physical aspects of your stand – can you tell from a distance what you are all about? Is the stand itself open and welcoming so that people can enter easily and freely without feeling like they have to negotiate a barrier to get in and find out more?

5. Poorly Designed Stand

An exhibition stand, whatever your budget, is a big cost when attending an event so do not underestimate the importance of making sure it looks as good as possible. From a roller banner or pop up stand to a bespoke exhibition stand and everything in between, the design element is crucial to your show’s success.

Your stand is your shop window and everyone who sees it will judge you and your business by it. It is crucial to get the artwork right. If you need help with designing your stand we offer an exhibition stand design service.  

Do not clutter your stand with too much information and have a clear message throughout your stand design. Also think about the physical aspects of your stand – visitors need to be able to access it easily and comfortably so consider the placement of furniture or accessories, such as leaflet dispensers, iPad stands and counters.

6. Not Doing a Dry Run

So you have the best designed exhibition equipment possible and turn up at the venue on the day of the event but can’t work out how to put it together properly. It takes so long to set up that the exhibition has been open for an hour before you even have chance to think about engaging with visitors. How many leads have you lost by struggling to set up while they have walked by and thought it a shame that your stand isn’t ready?

Always practice assembling your stand before you go and make sure you have all the tools and equipment you will need. Give yourself plenty of time to set up so you are ready to go before those doors open.

7. Not Promoting Your Presence

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Even with the best looking stand and your best sales team to man it, few people come to see your stand because they do not know you are there. As an exhibitor you should not solely rely on the event organiser to promote the event – you need to do a bit of pre-show marketing too.

Make sure you promote your attendance at the exhibition before and during the event so people know you are going to be there and will seek you out. As well as using the organiser’s communication tools, use all your communication channels to tell your customers you are going. Make the most of social media to promote your presence and post during the event with things happening on your stand to create a buzz during the day.

8. Nothing to Attract Visitors to Your Stand

Having a perfect exhibition stand is one thing but if no one stops by then the effort and expense has been wasted. Think about ways to get people to your stand in a bid to engage them in conversation – what attracts you to an exhibition stand?

People are always attracted by a freebie but try to think of a giveaway that’s a bit different but still in line with your brand.

Many exhibitors will run a competition to attract visitors – think outside the box on this one so people have to engage with you in some way to enter an you have the chance to pitch to them.  Take a look at our Great Competitions for Exhibition Stands article for some ideas.

9. No Post-Event Follow Up

The exhibition is over and you have a folder full of contact sheets and potential leads. Once back to day to day work this folder remains untouched and all the effort you put into getting leads is wasted as you don’t follow them up.

Always, always follow up all leads generated at an exhibition and make sure they are followed up as soon as possible after the exhibition while they are still warm. Also, plan to follow up regularly over the next six months to a year – a contact might not need you immediately after the show but possibly will in the future.

It takes time to follow up leads after an exhibition but if you put in the effort it will be worth it.

10. Not reviewing performance

As much as planning before a show is crucial, so is reviewing your performance afterwards. It is a waste of time and resources to blindly attend your next event without reviewing how the previous one went. At the next show you may well find yourself realising that last time something didn’t work but it will be too late to change it. 

Book in time soon after the exhibition to evaluate how you performed against your objectives and use the results to plan better for your next event. Look at what worked well and what could be improved on. All of this information will help you achieve even better results next time.

We hope these common mistakes exhibitors make will help you with your next exhibition. At XL Displays we provide portable display solutions and custom built exhibition stands. Please contact us or call our sales team on 01733 511030 to find out more.



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