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7 Deadly Mistakes When Preparing for a Trade Show or Event- and How To Avoid Them.

Trade shows are back in swing- and having talked to some businesses that went up to the big electronics event in Vegas last week, the word on the street is- business is back.

Two to three years we saw a reduction in businesses who were using trade shows as a way to grow their business. Last year, Sweet Marketing Solutions helped more businesses get ready for success at shows.  January is the season where businesses plan or start preparing for taking their business to shows.

With that, I thought I would share an article I wrote a few years ago that gives valuable insights if you are going to participate in them this year. Whether you go to a show to walk it as an attendee- or if you want to have a booth as a vendor, this article gives valuable insight to help you maximize your time, effort and investment.


7 Deadly Mistakes When Preparing for a Trade Show or Event-and How To Avoid Them.
By Debbra Sweet July 05, 2007

Events take a lot of work to do, and for some people, they are the most effective way to market and promote their business.  For others, they can be very frustrating, and may seem counter productive.  If you’ve been a victim of trade show tragedy- here’s 7 deadly mistakes most people make when it comes to trade shows- and how avoiding them will make your next event more successful …

Deadly Mistake #1: Not having a plan

I put this first because it’s the biggest- and it is the foundation for your success.  Just like running your day to day business or marketing campaign, if you don’t have a plan for the results you want from the trade show or event- you can pretty much guarantee that your time will not be effective.

People attend and participate in events for different reasons.  What’s yours? Do you want to build name recognition, meet potential business contacts for referral business? Do you need a supplier or distribution source?  Are you focused on generating leads for your business- or can you even sell your product or service at the event?

Depending on the results you want, your desired effect starts with crafting a plan to get you from point A to point Z.

Deadly Mistake #2: Is the trade show/event right for you?

This may seem like a no-brainer question, but I work with many companies that want to participate in an event or trade show- but often, the events they’ve chosen will not have the right people attending that they should really be working with.

In other words, is the event you’ve decided to be at really your ideal client target audience?

What do I mean by ideal client?  I also refer to this as your best client.  Not all clients are a great fit for your company. Not all ideal clients fit into a specific target market either.  Do you know who yours are?  If not, how can you confidently know whether or not the people at the event you want to participate at are the right people for you to be talking to?

Deadly Mistake #3: Not giving enough time/ checking your details for the day of the event

Last minute planning can really add to the overall stress and expense of participating in events.   When we create any marketing piece or promotional product, a typical production time is at least 15 days- and that’s after all the art has been approved and before shipping time.

One of the simplest areas to adjust when planning for a trade show is just that. Give yourself time to plan.  Be sure to include extra time for any updates to your content, printing of paper materials and if you want to get very effective at trade shows with using promotional products- give your self plenty of time.  If you go the route of doing a complete custom made promotional product, you’ll want to budget at least 12 weeks in product development.  This planning can make a huge impact on your overall success. The more you become successful at planning the details of your event, the more you can plan on being successful while reducing your stress.

Deadly Mistake #4: Talking to everyone at the trade show

This mistake ties into deadly mistake number 2.  Once you’re at the right event, do you really need to speak with everyone?  If you’ve ever worked a booth before, you’ve probably had times when someone comes along and they seem to take up all your time- only it’s been evident that what they want to speak to you about, will lead to no business for you.  If the trade show is ‘slow’, a person like this could be a minor break in the moment- but what if it’s a busy show and you’re tied up talking to this person…when a major contact you really want to meet walks by- alone.  You just missed your opportunity.

How do you avoid this?  Is there a way to get the right people to come talk to you?   Yes.

To win the tradeshow war- you need to get the right people to your booth.

Sweet Marketing Solutions understands that there are more levels to marketing yourself at a trade show than just showing up and setting up a booth.  It starts with pre-trade show marketing. You don’t need to get everyone to come see you- just the right traffic to your booth. We can help you find creative, easy and inexpensive- yet very effective ways to get people to remember who you are.  And most importantly, we can set you up with the tools to quickly and effectively reach connect with those people you’ve just met at the trade show. With our experience, you have an opportunity to increase revenue dollars right away from your tradeshow experience.

Deadly Mistake #5: Not collecting vital info at the booth

It amazes me that people would participate in a trade show or event- but not want to use it as a way to collect data for developing contacts or leads. For some people, if they have the time and money to invest into a show where they are simply building their brand and creating a positive contribution to the overall event, then it’s a good fit.

For others, not collecting data to follow up on is a huge mistake.  This one area is critical in the success of the event.  If there’s no data to call- then how do you generate ROI?  If there’s no data to call – how will you know where your business comes from?

Data collection can be easy at a show.  It doesn’t have to be ‘aggressive’ or ‘’a hard sell’.  In fact, some of the most light hearted, attention getting ways of getting people’s information – can be the determining factor in marketing retention.  If your data collection idea is creative, people will be more likely to remember you when you do call.

Deadly Mistake #6: – Using cheap, commonly used hand outs

Did you know that there’s over 800,000 promotional items to have branded with your company name and contact information on it?  Yet, when it comes to hand outs, a huge mistake occurs when people settle for purchasing the same old, inexpensive promotional items.

How can you differentiate yourself if what you hand out is the same as everyone else’s?  Plan early and get creative because waiting to the last minute to order these products can add to the cost. We can help you find original ideas with promotional items that will reinforce your brand, keep you on budget and help your company gain exposure.

Deadly Mistake #7: No follow up

I saved this one for last because in my opinion, it’s the biggest – and if you’ve invested time and money to do a trade show- but never follow up- then you’ve missed the whole point.

We all have good intentions to follow up- but typically, the 80/20 rule applies here.  20% of the people who participate in a show will actually follow up. The other 80%- will let their good intentions be just that… intention.

All too frequently, once the trade show is over, those business cards get rubber banded together and they get set by the telephone- still with good intentions- to call those people within a very short period of time.

What usually happens though- is that our good intentions last for a few days.   Business and life get in the way- so all too often, we never actually get to calling anyone in that stack of business cards. Later, we might even put a label on it so that we can remember which tradeshow we met them at.  Then after a while, the stack of business cards with a rubber band and label that has moved into a drawer turn from hot leads to cold. Next, they typically find their way into the circular file (garbage can).

Don’t let this happen to your valuable leads!

If you want to avoid those common follow-up mistakes, call Sweet Marketing Solutions today and ask about our Connection Campaigns ™ tools.  This is a package of low cost, high impact, easy to use and most importantly- well received automated collection of marketing tools that will help you leverage your time and keep expenses to a minimum. The Connection Campaigns ™ marketing tools can be used before, during and after your event- and will help ensure you get results for your efforts.


To recap and help you avoid the common deadly mistakes at trade shows and events – ask yourself this:

1. What are you doing for pre trade show marketing?
2. What are you doing at the trade show to market and differentiate yourself?
3. What are you going to do to follow up with all the leads that you’ve just received at the trade show?

Contact Sweet Marketing Solutions today. Let us show you some of our creative yet very effective and inexpensive ways to get the right people to your tradeshow booth this year. You can knock your results out of the park.  You can get the results you looking for from the tradeshow- it just takes a little bit of planning in advance.

Sweet Marketing Solutions

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