5 Things You Should Avoid Doing at a Trade Show Exhibit

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Trade show exhibits are beneficial to business owners as a marketing tool and there are a wide variety of trade shows which cater to various industries. I worked for an accident reconstruction firm and handled the exhibiting at several trade shows per year and saw the many advantages of participating in such shows. For my employer, generating new leads was the biggest benefit to attending the shows. Mike Levi is the President of Ion Exhibits located in Chicago. In a recent Marketing Review article, he provided the following list of benefits to participating in trade shows:

  1. Generate leads
  2. Build brand image
  3. Introduce new products
  4. Learn new industry trends

From my work experience utilizing this marketing tool, I agree with the four benefits he shared. My manager provided excellent training for me before I headed out into the field. However, it was interesting to see the variety of behaviors exhibited by individuals at these shows. Some behavior was professional and some not so much. This article will address five things exhibitors should avoid doing at trade shows.  

5 Things to Avoid Doing at Trade Show Exhibits

Having a booth at a trade show is an opportune time for your company to shine brighter than your competitors. You have the opportunity to interact with a group of people that you might not normally meet in the everyday operation of your business. The way your booth is presented and the way you and your colleagues behave will directly affect your business, either in a positive or negative way. The following discusses five things to avoid while working at the trade show.

# 1: Avoid Eating at Your Booth

One of my favorite trade shows to exhibit at was the NJAJ Boardwalk Exhibit for the trial lawyers from the New Jersey Association for Justice. The usual attendance of trial lawyers was about 1,900. It was a great chance to meet some of our clients, whom I had only spoken to on the phone, and meet new prospective clients. The trade show is still held at Bally’s Atlantic City and we had a great view of the ocean and boardwalk from the convention center. The exhibit lasted for two days and they offered both the lawyers and exhibitors a continental breakfast, light lunch and an afternoon treat of wine and cheese. The food was great, but I was taught to never eat at our booth. If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you’ve probably seen exhibitors hiding behind their booth trying to wolf down their lunch. That’s not exactly a pleasant sight to see for prospects passing by the booth.

Tip: Always have a colleague with you to tag-team out for lunch breaks etc.

# 2: Stay Off the Phone at Your Booth  

I remember times when there was no traffic to our booth. This usually happened when the lawyers were attending seminars to earn CLE (continuing legal education) credits. It’s quite tempting to start talking or texting on your phone or even getting on your laptop. However, there are still random visitors who might stop by your booth. They don’t all attend seminars at the same time. If you must make calls, excuse yourself from the booth. If you need to get on your laptop or tablet, take a break from the booth and sit at one of the lounge areas while your colleague works the table.

Tip: Figure out a phone break (or email checking) schedule with your colleague.

# 3 Avoid Having a Boring Exhibit Booth

My manager had recently put in some effort to create an updated exhibit booth from the one they had been utilizing for the last twenty years. Times are changing and your competitors are advancing with new technology. Your booth needs to also reflect such effective design. Skyline Tradeshow offers some useful tips on creating effective trade show booths. Your booth needs to showcase your business in a creative, uncluttered, organized and technological way. The worst thing you can do is to blend in and not stand out from the crowd of exhibitors. Your promotional products should also be clever and something useful that prospects will continually use and remember your company by.   

            Tip: Have a team meeting prior to attending to come up with creative ways to shine.

# 4: Don’t Arrive Without a Plan in Place

Another tip I received from my manager was to take this process seriously. My colleague and I were representing the company and we needed to continually provide a professional presentation—of ourselves and the exhibit booth. I couldn’t simply show up. I needed to be early. Get the booth set up quickly and in a professional manner and then hold that same posture throughout the long day.

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            Tip: Practice your sales pitch with your colleague before you get to the trade show.

# 5: Don’t Allow Yourself to Become Negative

Participating in exhibits was a fun experience but also extremely tiring. There is physical work involved in hauling in and setting up your exhibit booth. You will be standing on your feet for a good portion of the day. You need to be on your game and smile and mingle with the prospects. This type of work day can be both professionally exhilarating and draining. Once the day starts dragging on, try to keep your perspective on the job. Don’t allow yourself to become negative if you haven’t generated as many leads as you were hoping for. If you become pessimistic, it will negatively affect the professional appearance of yourself and the atmosphere of your booth.

            Tip: Take a break and walk around the exhibit hall when you begin to feel negativity.

Working a trade show for your employer or your own business can become a fun and beneficial experience if you allow it to. Continually remember the four major reasons why you are attending this exhibit in the first place. Work on avoiding the five negative behaviors listed in this article. If you work diligently and put in a solid effort, your exhibiting experience will be rewarding for both you and the business.