Exhibit Design Search / Trade Show and Event Tips / Humor /
Dumb Stuff People Do at Trade Shows
It's Crazy! And It's Easy to Fix.
People do really dumb stuff at trade shows. Consistently dumb stuff. Anyone who participates in trade shows could write a book on what they've seen. Pre-show marketing and post-show leads alone would cover several hundred pages.
So, let's ignore those and concentrate on the easy, quick fixes, the ones you can change now. The ones you can implement before your next show.
Bring them . . . but not all of them. Bring the President and the CEO, assuming they are personable and knowledgeable. Don't bring them if they love to hear themselves talk. Don't bring the CFO, the COO, or anyone who couldn't charm a goldfish into a fishbowl. Clients want to talk to senior management. And their presence demonstrates that your company is serious about the show. You may not agree, but in today's business-centric world, the CEO and President are Rock Stars to your audience.
This rule obviously doesn't apply if you do 80 shows a year. Pick the 3 or 4 most crucial and have the "chiefs" there. Tip: It's much easier to get a trade show marketing budget approved if senior management participates.
Come Late. Leave Early
Most shows allow you to enter the show hall early. This gives you time to organize the booth and make any last minute changes. More importantly, it's the ideal time to walk the show, see industry trends, and get a better sense of what your competitors are showing. If possible, bring a colleague. That way you can compare notes.
It's also a great time to talk to the other early birds. There are fewer distractions, and you're more likely to have a casual, informative conversation. Staying late has similar advantages. Not surprisingly, tired exhibitors can be very revealing at the end of the day.
That said . . . adhere to the formal and informal rules of the trade show floor. Don't do anything you wouldn't want a competitor to do in your booth.
Ignore the Competition
Many companies are arrogant about their competitors. They see themselves as "the leaders," so what could they possibly learn? The answer is -- a lot. Even knowing that you are still the leader is valuable when targeting new markets and developing your marketing strategy.
And, unless your company prohibits it, don't be afraid to introduce yourself. Friendliness is not a crime. You may be surprised at what you'll discover, and a friendly competitor has been known to send business your direction if the client doesn't fit their model. Tip: Beware of the red herring. Sometimes competitors can be sneaky smart about their sales, trends, and products.
Ignore Your Customers
It happens. It's human nature. We feel like we don't have to spend as much time with existing customers since we know them. However, your customers come to trade shows to learn about new products, services, and companies. They also come to mingle with colleagues, meet new people, and share challenges. They want to feel valued.
If good customer says, "I was at the show, but --
a) You were so busy no one was available,
b) I was there but just never made it to your booth, or
c) Spoke to Bob (or Jane or Homer) and they said there's nothing new happening"
Then, you have a problem. A correctable problem but a problem.
Ignore the Social Events
As much as we want to pretend otherwise, trade shows are business in a semi-social setting. The planned social events, such as the evening gala, meet-and-greet events, award ceremonies, and receptions are still business functions. Make it worthwhile. It's your chance to meet new people, chat with industry colleagues, bond with existing customers, and find new customers.
Can it be hard, especially if you are a wallflower? Yes . . . but . . . wallflowers have an advantage. They are great listeners, and in any large room, the ratio of talkers to listeners is about 95:1. Ask the right question (or often any question) and the rest of the night is on auto-pilot.
Tip: For anyone under 30, Social Media ≠ Social Events. And yes, you do have to talk to people. You can't just text them.
Rely on Memory
Unless you're Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, your memory is flawed, hopelessly flawed. On Day 1, you will recall every single conversation. By Day 3, an important client will remind you that you spoke for 30 minutes about a critical new project on Day 1.
Use whatever works -- paper, tablet, business cards with notes, digital recorder, etc. Yes, it's better if everyone in the booth uses a similar system, but it's even better if everyone takes notes that can be reconstructed at the end of the day or the end of the show. Tip: Don't let "Joe" leave the booth at the end of the day without emptying his pockets. Otherwise, those notes and business cards will be trash can casualties or unreadable smudges by next week.
Please share your "quick fixes." View it as volunteer community service for the less fortunate who see neither the forest nor the trees when it comes to trade shows. Don't make me stand on the corner ringing a bell for the clueless. They can be saved!
For more information about trade show or event marketing, give us a call or Contact Us. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your next event.
Classic Exhibits Inc.
Add designs and photos to your personal gallery simply by clicking on the +My Gallery links
Then email your "My Gallery" to colleagues, friends, or your favorite exhibit designer. There's no better way to begin designing a display that reflects your exhibit marketing goals.
Note: My Gallery uses a temporary browser cookie to store your gallery. We recommend that you send your gallery to your email address if you need to retain it for longer than 30 days.
- Production lead times are based on business days and DO NOT include any shipping days.
- Production-ready artwork (when applicable) must accompany the order confirmation. Delays in uploading artwork may lead to expedited charges or shipping changes.
- No order will be released to Production without a signed order confirmation.
- Shipping is based on the availability of materials and graphics. Additional charges may apply if materials or graphics must be expedited.
- Shorter lead times may be available based on schedule openings in Customer Service and Production. Rush charges may apply.
- Standard lead times do not apply to orders of multiple quantities.
- Please check for product availability on ALL RENTAL exhibits.
- Dimensional Weight vs. Actual Weight: Dimensional weight is defined as crate or case size. On most air shipments, the dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight
- Portable Cases vs. Wood Crates or Molded Tubs (where applicable): Exhibit designs that require one wood crate would require multiple portable cases. Selecting one vs. the other affects the total weight (dimensional or actual).
- Freight Carrier: LTL carriers (Less than Truckload) quote freight based on space used. UPS, FedEx, and air freight carriers quote freight based on either the dimensional or the actual weight of the shipment.
- Freight Service Level (number of days): Service levels range from Same Day Delivery to Two Week Delivery.
- Inline vs. Island Displays
- Lead Retrieval Devices
- Computer and Monitor Cables
- Demo Equipment
- Overhead Lighting
- Grommets and Grommet Placement in Counters
- Overhead vs. Floor Power Supply
- Flooring and Electrical Wiring
- Options for Hiding Cords and Cables
- Flat vs. Round Electrical Cords
- Multi-Plug Outlets and Extension Cords