I attended a small trade show recently. Some of the businesses had very professional trade show booths that were well-branded and others had obnoxious “salesy” signs and unprofessional propaganda all over their tables. It was quite the spectrum of bad to excellent.

I have to list some of my pet peeves with trade show exhibitors. These are my pet peeves, as I hate to see people waste precious marketing budgets on ineffective marketing.

1. Cluttered tables. Simple rule here – less is better. You do not have to fill up every inch of space. Leave some white space on the table so the eye can flow through the signage and literature, and find something of interest.

2. A table full of propaganda. Several tables I visited had so many stands with various brochures and flyers. I would have to ask, “Which is your main brochure?” One woman had four brochures on her table. It was an in-home care company. She then started to explain every brochure on the table. I was only interested in one – the main company brochure.

3. Poorly branded marketing materials. Make sure flyers, brochures, signage and banners use the same fonts, logos, common graphics, colors, templates, etc.

4. Drawing entry forms requesting your email and without the proper notification they will be email marketing you. If you are asking for email because you are going to email market them, tell them that on the form. “By filling out your email, you agree to receive email marketing.” Or, have a check mark box next to a statement, “If you do not wish to receive email marketing of our promotions, check this box.” I filled out many of these forms and was spammed by most of them.

5. People sitting on chairs. I am a stickler for standing in the booth. You are there to greet people and be friendly. Sitting in a chair behind the table is a bad practice. Wear comfortable shoes so your feet don’t get tired.

6. Overly aggressive salespeople turn me off. Overly cold salespeople also turn me off. Be friendly, say hello as people pass your booth. Point them to your drawing and ask a couple questions to get the ball rolling. Make some small talk, "Good afternoon. Are you enjoying all the exhibits? Would you like to enter our drawing for ...?"

7. Unclear messaging. You have to get to the point quickly - what do you do? What is in it for me to stop at your booth? You don't have a lot of time to attract a passerby's attention.

8. Not having a goal or plan. If you are putting forth the effort and expense of participating in a trade show, then you need a plan. Always start with a goal in mind and then strategize how you will get there. How will your business be remembered after the attendee leaves your booth?

Trade show marketing is one of many ways to successfully market one's business. It can also be a costly tactic. If you are going to use trade show marketing, be sure you have a plan.

At SHE Leads Group, we provide a variety of special guest trainers and we cover many different business development topics just like this one. Experience the SHE difference. We welcome you to visit a chapter near you and get a sampling of the business development training that is provided at our meetings.

About the author

Beth Boen, Founder of SHE Leads Group

Beth Boen has more than 30 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer service. She is an award-winning marketer. She is also a professional trainer and customer experience consultant. Beth loves helping people build long-term, loyal relationships that produce quality connections in their business that lead to lifetime customers and endless referrals. Beth helps people do this through her thoughtful blogs and training curriculum. Members of SHE Leads Group have access to more in-depth business development training through presentations at meetings from Beth, her curriculum, and guest trainers. In addition to being the Founder of SHE Leads Group, Beth has had a training and consulting business, The Voice Customer Experience, that she started in 2005.

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