10 Crucial Trade Show Mistakes to Avoid


Trade shows are a great opportunity to get your company and your products out there. But you need to do them properly. Just showing up won’t get you anywhere, quite the opposite. A poor showing at a trade show can actually set you back significantly. For this reason, we have written up this short article on the core mistakes to avoid when you’re attending a trade show.

10 Crucial Trade Show Mistakes to Avoid

Going without a goal

First things first – you need to have a specific, concrete goal. Going on autopilot won’t really leave you with much, if anything. Think about what you want to accomplish, and be very specific. Increasing sales, generating some leads, neither of these actually work.

What you really want to do is focus. Do you want to attack a certain section of the market? Maybe broaden your network? Perhaps what you really need is learning more about your industry.

Overdoing it

Going too big means biting off more than you can chew. This can be presented in terms of goals and plans, stretching yourself out, or it can simply be getting needlessly bombastic and wasteful with your resources. Do you really need that huge booth and flashy lights, or will something humbler work for you? Do you need a conference room, or is a smaller room enough? 

Underdoing it

At the same time, undergoing things is also a possibility and an annoying aspect of this type of work. It is true that larger exhibits do in fact get more traffic than smaller ones. Going to small means being too thrifty, and not getting the most out of your show.

A good rule of thumb is to match the size and the set up of your core competitors. And we truly mean competitors – people much larger and more powerful than you, or people much smaller, are not comparable. So, see what the competition is doing, match it, and maybe do a little bit extra.

Poor presentation

This one should be pretty obvious, and yet so many people get it wrong. They just think they can show up with a booth, a sign, and their stuff, and eschew any other type of presentation. This is just pure laziness. What you need to do is create something attractive, something that will attract people to your stuff.

Get a professional exhibition display set up, get some flash there, actually work on making this entire placement attractive.

Untrained staff

You need to prepare the people who are actually sitting at your booths. These people are representing you, and they need to know what they are doing. They need to know the products, they need to know the company, and they need to know the industry.

Train them, teach them. Invest in conferences, seminars, training opportunities. Do a kind of rehearsal, see how your people will behave in such circumstances.

Cluttered booth

Clean up your booth, don’t let it get all cluttered up. Wrappers, receipts, dust, garbage, all of these add up after a day or two of conferencing. You want your booth to be spotless, clean as a whistle.

Treat your booth like the dang Queen of England is going to show up and check out what you have. Work hard, remember that this booth represents your company, it speaks volumes about you and your work.

No follow up on leads

This is a common issue, completely caused by laziness. People spend so much time on their booths, on their presentations, they work hard on making the most out of their companies and their hard work. And then, for some strange reason, they completely neglect following through on their leads. They don’t value them; they give up on the finish line.

Besides losing obvious time, money, and resources, you also make your company and yourself seem disinterested, inexperienced, and downright unprofessional.

No pre-show marketing

It’s not enough to just show up. Rather, you need to get some pre-show marketing on, you need to market and advertise yourself to your fullest capacity. You don’t have to spend a fortune, just spend enough.

You will be limited by your budget and by your magician. Emails, guerrilla marketing, internet, social media, it all works. There already needs to be some attention, expect a crowd to already form when you show up. Contact your customers and clients, announce that you are setting up a show. Ask them to call up their friends, if they can.

Zero networking

A big part of these shows is networking. We understand that the easiest thing you can do is hang out in your booth all day. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best thing you can do. In fact, quite the opposite. You need to mingle, to walk around, pound the pavement. Talk to people and see what they have to offer. Meet new clients, talk to the competition, learn about the industry and your trade. Who knows what you can find if you look hard enough?

A simple hello will often suffice. Ask them how the show is going, inquire about their feelings and thoughts on the place. Do they have any thoughts, any secrets, a tip or two for some good old friendly competition?

Too much networking

There is such a thing as too much networking as well. Namely, speaking to a lot of people is great, but doing it too often, neglecting your responsibilities at the booth, its all just a waste of your time and money. You’re not here on vacation, and the core focus of the trade show is not making new friends. Get to work, get the job done, and then you can relax. Earn your rest.


And there you have its folks, mistakes that you need to avoid if you want to have a successful trade show. Network, walk around, talk to people. Do your homework, prepare your booth, and actually market your work. Don’t party, however, just mingle. Follow up on leads, stay thorough, and you will definitely see results.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here