5 Reasons Trade Shows Fail

5 Reasons Trade Shows Fail

How many times have you or your sales team come home deflated from a trade show saying it was a waste of time. Although you may not be able to put a finger on it, there are five main reasons trade shows can fail to deliver the goods.

1)  You’re at the wrong show

Make sure that the people who attend the shows are the decision-makers you’re trying to reach. Tire kickers, Sunday drivers and get-out-of-school-for-a-day visitors are not usually in the market for anything other than a distraction — and maybe the opportunity to collect a goodie bag of swag.

2)  You’re wearing the wrong glasses

Unless you’re selling the latest cleaning miracle or a very portable, affordable product, you’ll need other, more subtle measures of success than ‘sales made’ or ‘appointments booked’. An email or phone list of potential customers might be a more realistic target, simply because people may be “shopped out” at trade shows and reluctant to declare their level of interest. Either way, your draw slips should have yes/no check boxes for email or phone follow-up. If a guest is not willing to at least say yes to either of these, they will likely be a waste of your time to contact after the show. Since sending one email costs the same as sending 1,000, a compelling after-show email follow-up campaign can add those extra “touches” required to warm up a prospect, along with the phone calls to those already showing an interest. It’s also important for all sales staff to know exactly what the goals are. Any sales or appointments booked are gravy.

3)  You forgot to show up

Your booth is in a great location and looking snazzy. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty. Next time you’re at a trade show, check out the number of booths that feature someone sitting instead of standing, and more interested in resting their feet than in greeting their guests. A well-run booth will have a greeter to invite shoppers into the booth and an “expert” to handle the more detailed conversations. This increases the number of qualified prospects while still filling your draw box with potential leads. If you’re not prepared to engage, you might as well stay home. Yes, your feet will hurt. Plan accordingly.

4) You thought the trade show was the main event

Participation in a trade show includes three important phases: Pre-Show Marketing; At-Show Marketing and After-Show Marketing. If your team thinks the event is over when the booth is packed up and stuffed into storage, that’s precisely the most common failing point. Before you even sign the contract for the booth space, you should know exactly what the follow-up plan will be. And follow it through.

5) You forgot to keep score

Once you get back to the office, don’t forget to pull out the plan – review the objectives and score the results. Even if they were less than expected, you’ll at least have a yardstick by which to evaluate next year’s show and motivate the sales team.


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