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SIX Trade   Show Marketing Mistakes:  And How to Avoid Them.

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Looking for a Trade Show Idea?

If you have never exhibited at a trade show and are looking for a trade show idea, read on.

There are many great sites that can describe for you different strategies. As I continue to find them on the web, I will list them here.

According to the Small Business Administration, "Sophisticated exhibitors do well at trade shows no matter what their size, while the naive and inexperienced can waste thousands of dollars and countless hours - and possibly do more harm than good."

I think that's true. I also have worked with small companies that seem to have a hard time with the concept that a small trade show with a crisp plan can really work for them.

Look for a trade show idea at the Small Business Administration Website.

My advice for small businesses (less than 50 employees say) is to write a one page plan surrounding a trade show strategy.

There really are only 4 key areas to consider and do some homework on.

Key Area 1 - Pick Your Show.

Don't let it pick you. When you are starting out, find a local show if you can. Then find a show which has ONLY your target audience.

If you are looking for Accounting Firms, then go to their association's trade show. Often a show is built around a convention.

There is so much that could be written about this area, suffice to say, go where your market is -- and no where else!

Key Area 2 - Plan, Plan, Plan

That means, take the time to know what is going to happen.

Good show managers these days ensure that all the milestones and tools you need to participate in a show are on their web site.

Read it. Write the dates down. Talk to an exhibit company or two and see if their sales reps can put your needs over their own. Kidding.

But not really. You are new, you don't know if you should rent a booth, buy a booth, buy a large booth, go in someone else's booth. Each of those strategies has a distinct effect on their commission plan.

Then decide what, specifically, you will be doing at the show. Generate leads, announce product, test new concepts, or whatever is part of your current business plan.

Then make sure you support that goal. Without it, you will be tempted to water down your approach, or do something conflicting or get off track. (read, spend more money!)

Key Area 3 - At the Show.

EVERYBOY writes about this.

EVERYBODY knows better.

EVERYBODY still does it wrong!

Yes, everybody is a bit of a generalization, but you should plain and simple remember you are on sales duty. You may not know who you are talking to (don't forget to qualify prospects) so ensure you make a good impression.

Just take the high road and be a professional.

Key Area 4 - Follow Up!

This is really why you do the show.

Did you know that almost 75% of leads from trade shows aren't followed up on?

I was appalled when I read that.

So if you don't do anything else. Call every card the second you get back.

Leave a message.

Right away, you are on track to have a good result.

Now think of it this way.

If you spent the time to do well in these four areas you would be at the right show, selling the right product, selling well, and following up crisply.

If you did all these things poorly, you would end up spending more than you should and getting dissapointing results.


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