5 Exhibiting Mistakes to Avoid at Your Next Show
Working with handfuls of companies every year at dozens of events we at The Infotainers see our share of companies getting in their own way. Here are a list of the top 5 exhibiting mistakes to avoid.
Untrained Booth Staff
According to CEIR, only 20% of companies train their booth staff and only 1% ever use an outside trainer. What this tells me is that either exhibit staff are rocking it out there on the trade show floor, or more likely, the majority of companies are not investing in their frontline staff. In our experience as a trade show presentation and training company, booth staff training is the number 1 thing that can improve a company's results and yet it's one of the last things a company will invest in.
Fencing Out Booth Visitors
Time and time again in our travels, we see booths where much of the portion of the exhibit facing the aisle is blocked off with walls, tables, and LED screens. If your goal is to get people into the booth to learn more about your company, don't make it difficult for them to enter your exhibit. Trade show attendees will take the path of least of resistance; if they're required to walk around the exhibit to find an entry point, they won't. Be careful what your exhibit designer suggests. What looks good isn't necessarily what's most effective. (See Is your booth pretty or pretty ineffective.)
Food and Drinks
In our business at The Infotainers, we have the opportunity of working with a dozen companies a year at all their major live marketing events. We get to be a part of those pre-show meetings that every exhibit manager holds. At everyone of the meetings they say "no food or drinks" (other than water) and almost without question, within several hours there are Pepsi bottles, empty coffee cups and general debris dispersed around the booth. Every moment of the show is a moment of truth. Your company is on display and being judged the entire time. Marketing is the careful curation of the perception of your company. Enforce your booth rules and crack down on the eaters and drinkers in your exhibit.
Booth Staff Selection
If you are a small company, you might not have much choice of who comes along to a show. Other companies have a wide selection of reps, account managers, and subject matter experts. One thing we see quite often at our clients' shows is that they tend to bring bright minds with dim personalities. If your company has any social butterflies, a trade show is the place to let them out to do their thing. A "people person" will engage with many more people and will maximize their time and opportunities at the show. Your genius wallflowers on the other hand, can answer any question thrown at them but are not much use when they keep to themselves with their heads down at their demo pod. Better to have someone out there without all of the answers, interacting with booth visitors (they can always consult with the expert and get back with answers) than a know-it-all who doesn't engage.
If you have someone who falls into both categories, count yourself lucky and ensure they are available for every show!
What You Permit, You Promote
This bad habit is a direct result of exhibit managers who are soft on their booth staff. Granted, leading people without being a dictator can be a bit of tightrope walk. In our travels we've seen the scenario play out time and time again. The Exhibit Manager lays down the rules only to have them broken a few hours later or worse, break those same rules themselves. (See Exhibiting Leadership.) As the "Booth Mom or Dad" the onus is on you to show your booth family how it's done. If you let something slide, it's a slippery slope. The next thing you know, boothmanship atrocities are being committed all over your exhibit, and the massive investment your company has made is now being wasted. As an exhibit manager, hold yourself to the highest standards and watch the respect from your booth staff grow and their behavior change.