March 14th, 2017
Bringing a trade show exhibit to an event is very different from walking the event as an attendee. While your experience attending trade shows gives you an understanding of how the show works and what attendees might be looking for, manning a trade show exhibit requires additional skills and strategies. That is why many first time exhibitors make mistakes that cost them opportunities to benefit from the trade show. While trade show exhibiting takes time to master, some mistakes can be avoided right from the beginning. Here are a few of the biggest (and most common) mistakes to avoid the first time you exhibit.
Insufficient Trade Show Exhibit Prep Time
Designing your first trade show exhibit might turn out to be more involved than you had anticipated. Your exhibit company may need a certain amount of advance notice (Imagecraft prefers to have at least 4 months from the initial consultation to the finished product).You will also need to budget time to promote your presence at the trade show, find giveaways, find and train staff to man the booth, and reserve your booth space (which sometimes needs to happen a year in advance). Failing to plan for ample time in these areas might mean paying more (for booth materials that need to be rushed), losing prime booth space (that has already been reserved by someone else), or attending the trade show ill prepared (without a thought out strategy or adequate promotion). To avoid running into costly time crunches, plan ahead for your trade show exhibit. Look into the deadlines for your exhibit company and space reservation, for example. Make yourself aware of deadlines that can help you earn discounts or enjoy a more desirable booth space. And, in general, plan twice as much time as you anticipate so you can be adequately prepared with minimal stress.
Prioritizing Trade Show Exhibit Price over Quality
First time exhibitors often face very tight budgets. In addition, first time exhibitors are sometimes reluctant to spend money when they are not quite sure whether exhibiting is right for them. A natural outgrowth of these small budgets is the desire to cut corners when it comes to booth quality. Unfortunately, pinching pennies when it comes to the construction or materials of your trade show exhibit is likely to backfire. A poor quality trade show exhibit will make it more difficult for you to succeed at the event. The display will reflect upon your business, so a shabby display will make your company look less desirable to prospective leads. In addition, a display that is too small or too poorly designed is more likely to fade into the background than to earn the attention of attendees. Instead, look for a combination of price and quality when building your trade show exhibit. For example, many first time exhibitors choose to rent a high quality, customizable rental exhibit so they can test the trade show waters without committing to a more expensive (and permanent) purchase. Others choose to use a smaller, but flashier, trade show exhibit, or to invest in lighter materials to lower shipping costs. In order to get the most out of your trade show finances, consult with your exhibit company regarding your budget and vision. They should be able to direct you toward design solutions that fit your budget without compromising quality.
Cluttered Trade Show Exhibit Design
You are naturally excited about your brand and want to communicate that excitement to your booth visitors. However, what many first time exhibitors fail to realize is that you can put too much information in your trade show exhibit. In fact, adding too many things to your exhibit can actually hide the message you want attendees to get. When they see too much furniture, are bombarded by lots of brochures and literature, or immediately have to deal with hard sales pitches, it becomes difficult for them to separate the main points from the many distractions. Instead of filling your trade show exhibit with as much messaging, furniture, features, and literature as possible, consider maintaining an open and uncluttered space. Move tables out of the way so visitors can more easily pass through. Have your sales staff strike up friendly conversations. Keep literature digitized. With the right trade show exhibit design, you will enable visitors to move through a booth that is engaging and easy to understand.
Unrealistic Trade Show Exhibit Expectations
Goal setting is a critical aspect of creating a trade show exhibit. However, some first time exhibitors fail to set goals, or have expectations that are unrealistic. For instance, a start up entrepreneur might dream of selling out their supply of prototypes, or a new exhibitor might hope to earn more business than their competitor, even though they are just starting out and do not yet have the brand awareness necessary to earn that kind of attention at the trade show. The reality is that first time exhibitors might need more time to establish themselves in the trade show world. They might find that their product is not as popular as they had hoped, or that it takes a few trade shows to start earning brand recognition. If first time exhibitors go into the trade show with reasonable expectations, they will not be surprised or dismayed by these situations. In order to avoid disappointment, take the time to keep your expectations under control. Evaluate what you need to make exhibiting worth it, and then design your trade show exhibit to meet those goals. At the same time, make sure you set goals that you can strive for. These goals will give direction and structure to your trade show exhibit and will help you to get as much success out of the trade show as possible. First time exhibitors sometimes make mistakes that compromise the productivity and success of their trade show exhibits. These mistakes include insufficient prep time, prioritizing price over quality, cluttered trade show exhibit designs, and unrealistic expectations. Avoiding these mistakes can increase the success of your trade show exhibit, both the first time and every time you display.