Trade show exhibiting is one of the most cost effective direct marketing tools available to business today. But while some trade show exhibitors seem to always hit home runs when they exhibit at trade shows, other trade show exhibitors seem to regularly strike out. Why? To be a successful trade show exhibitor, one needs to bring traffic to their trade show booth. Unfortunately, many trade show exhibitors confuse quantity and quality. A high volume of trade show booth traffic isn't very helpful if it isn't quality traffic. The key to successfully promoting one's trade show booth is to focus on getting QUALIFIED PROSPECTS. You want to bring people to your booth that have a need for your product or service, that have the money to buy your product or service, and who have the power to make or at least influence the purchasing decision at their company. Usually, all of the attendees at a trade show are not qualified prospects. Usually, in fact, most of the attendees are specifically not prospects at all, and have no need for your product or service, or don't have the money, or couldn't make or influence the purchasing decision in any case. When promoting your trade show booth, remember to think QUALIFIED PROSPECTS! With this in mind, let's discuss three common trade show booth promotion mistakes.
MISTAKE #1) NOT PROMOTING ONE'S TRADE SHOW BOOTH AT ALL
Many companies sign up to exhibit at a trade show and then leave it at that. They figure that they'll sit in their booth and attendees will just show up. Studies have shown just the opposite. Many attendees make it to less than half of the trade show booths at a show. The good news is that most attendees will make it to the booths that they hear about in advance and then make plans to visit. The lesson to learn is this: if you don't promote your booth, you may find yourself sitting alone for a significant part of the show.
MISTAKE #2) HAVING A GENERAL RAFFLE OR DRAWING (THE FISHBOWL APPROACH)
A common trade show booth promotion technique is to have a raffle or giveaway. You tell people to drop their business card in a fishbowl and one lucky person will win an IPOD or other such thing at the end of the show. The problem with this approach is that your giveaway has nothing to do with your product or service. You may end up with a stack of business cards, but when you start cold calling people you'll find that they just wanted to win the IPOD, and they have no interest in your business.
MISTAKE #3) HAVING AN ENTERTAINER
Another common mistake is to hire a magician or other entertainer to perform at your trade show booth. The problem with this approach is that people will want to watch the entertainer, not talk with you. And again, they'll probably have no interest in your company. Even worse, you may end up with a wall of non-prospects blocking access to your booth for those people who are prospects.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
The key with any trade show promotion is that it should target QUALIFIED PROSPECTS. First, you need to determine who your prospects are, and what makes them qualified prospects (so that you know who to target and how). Then I always recommend sending out a pre-show mailer to all the registered attendees. Two mailers spaced out are even better. Your mailer should tell attendees about your booth, what you'll be showing, and why they should stop by. At the show, you want to be sure to have a trade show booth that has bold, eye-catching graphics, and that tells attendees what you do and how you can help them. Your trade show booth graphics need to bring in QUALIFIED prospects, not every random Joe that walks by. Next, any promotion that you do must attract qualified prospects. If you are going to have a raffle, consider having it for a chance to win one of your products or services. The only people that will enter are people that need your product or service. You'll stand a better chance of selling to those that don't win when you call them, as opposed to the person that just wanted the free IPOD. If you do have a raffle for an unrelated item, be sure to ask each person a set of questions before your enter them. The set of questions should determine if they are qualified prospect, and whether you want to spend your time calling them after the show.
The key to successfully promoting your trade show booth is to remember that you want to bring in qualified prospects. Any promotion you do should result in a list of qualified prospects, not a stack of business cards from everyone that attended the show. Doing your promotion right will make your post-show follow-up much easier and far more enjoyable. It is better to get 50 leads and have 40 turn into sales, than to get 1000 leads, and stop following up on them after you only get 2 out of the first 100 people you call to talk to you. Leave the IPOD raffles to competitors, and enjoy watching the magician at the booth on the next aisle, not at your trade show booth.
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