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Don’t Make These 7 Common Trade Show Mistakes

There are a several trade show mistakes that are all too common among brands. For example, how many times have you gone to the trade shows with an amazing booth, and realized later that your staff wasn’t really that trained for it?


It’s likely you’ve chosen a booth design that was way too small or way too big, causing your audience to either miss you completely or to feel overwhelmed by your display. There are seven common trade show mistakes that are all too easy to make. Take a look at them so that you can do your best to avoid them this year.

Not following up with leads

One of the most common mistakes from trade shows comes in the form of thinking once the show ends, the work is done. This time after the show is crucial because it’s time to finish the job you started. You got people to meet you at the show, you performed well at the show, and you came home with a bunch of great leads.

If you didn’t follow up with those leads afterwards, then you didn’t finish the job. Sometimes it’s a matter of being unorganized while for others, there is too much focus on the show itself that leads gathered there get neglected. Make sure you have a system to follow up with your leads and make a solid plan of action.

Staff is unprepared

In other cases, the staff wasn’t prepared for the show. Having a booth staff that isn’t trained well for your presentation is going to make you look bad. Make sure your staff is getting training before the show by making sure everyone understands the mission at hand, that the stuff knows the company and products in and out, and that everyone knows how to answer customer questions. In a sense, customers will be asking questions to your staff as if it’s an interview, so be sure everyone is prepared and knows their role for the day.

Going too big on the display

You may be thinking “go big or go home,” right? You need to watch out for going too big with your strategy. For example, don’t try to outdo everyone else in the room by renting your own conference room at the show when most customers would rather meet you in an informal meeting area.

Consider if the show you are attending is the main event or a secondary one, where the money should be put more into the big event rather than the smaller one that won’t bring in as many leads.

Don’t go too small either

The other common mistake is that some people end up going too small and struggle to get traffic or leads. Watch out for your location in the room and avoid looking invisible next to the bigger exhibits that are typically found in the center or by the entrance. You’ll be able to do less if you end up in an inline display where space is limited, and you can do a lot more if you choose an island exhibit where there is room for seating, overhead signage, and product displays. If you make the wise decision to rent your booth, talk to the professionals at Nimlok NYC for direction on the best locations in the trade show that will best fit your display choice.

Not setting a main goal

While you intend to use the show to gain leads and show off your brand, having no specific goal in mind is a common mistake that you’ll want to avoid. Don’t just show up to the trade show with a plan to increase your sales with no plan on how you’re going to do it.

Everyone is there for this reason but those that are successful have a plan on how they are going to execute it. Think about you can incorporate your regular marketing goals with the opportunity to meet these clients face-to-face, and come up with questions you can ask clients to make sure you are showing them how you can solve their needs.

Cluttered display

Have you ever seen a trade show display with cluttered graphics where you feel overwhelmed just looking at it? Make sure your display is neat, clean, and quick to read. Your potential clients want to be able to read your messages easily, while noticing great color, creative ideas, and even some wittiness. Make sure you don’t look chaotic but rather you choose some minimalistic, straight-forward graphics that help explain your message.

Pointless giveaways

Lastly, don’t fall into the trap of doing a giveaway just for the sake of it. Make sure your giveaways make sense to your overall theme, otherwise you may look desperate. It’s fun to get free stuff at trade shows, but clients don’t want a free water bottle from a company that sells tech products. Make sure your giveaways make sense to your actual brand so that you remain memorable after the show. Keep this in mind for drawings or prizes too.

Avoid these seven common mistakes made at trade shows all of the time. Knowing them in advance will make it easier to plan ahead this year.