Stupid Things People Do at Trade Shows

Now, I’m not calling anyone “stupid,” so lower your knives and baseball bats. What I am saying is that people do really dumb stuff at trade shows. Consistently stupid stuff. Anyone who participates in trade shows could write a book on what they’ve seen over the years. Pre-show marketing and post-show leads would cover several hundred pages.


So, let’s ignore those and concentrate on the easy, quick fixes, the ones you can change now. The ones you can implement before your next show in a month.


Lack Large Format Graphics.

The biggest mistake you can make at a trade show is not having any displays or graphics. How can anyone possibly know who you are and what you do, if you don’t have your company on display? How can you initially draw people’s attention to your booth? How can you stick in someone’s head after they stop by your booth? The answer is simple, large format graphics.

“Remember that booth with the large display that had a picture of a giant wine barrel on it?”

“Yes of course, I have their business card right here, it has that same barrel on it, look.”

Whether it be a large pop up display or smaller retractable banner stands, the need for graphics is crucial for success.


Come Late. Leave Early.

Most shows allow you to enter the show hall early. This gives you time to organize the booth and make any last minute changes. More importantly, it’s the ideal time to walk the show, see industry trends, and get a better sense of what your competitors are showing. If possible, bring a colleague. That way you can compare notes.

It’s also a great time to talk to the other early birds. There are fewer distractions, and you’re more likely to have a casual, informative conversation. Staying late has similar advantages. Not surprisingly, tired exhibitors can be very revealing at the end of the day.

That said…adhere to the formal and informal rules of the trade show floor. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want a competitor to do in your booth.


Ignore the Competition

Many companies are arrogant about their competitors. They see themselves as “the leaders,” so what could they possibly learn? The answer is — a lot. Even knowing that you are still the leader is valuable when targeting new markets and developing your marketing strategy.

And, unless your company prohibits it, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Friendliness is not a crime. You may be surprised at what you’ll discover, and a friendly competitor has been known to send business your direction if the client doesn’t fit their model.

Tip: Beware of the red herring. Sometimes competitors can be sneaky smart about their sales, trends, and products.


Ignore Your Customers

It happens. It’s human nature. We feel like we don’t have to spend as much time with existing customers since we know them. However, your customers come to trade shows to learn about new products, services, and companies. They also come to mingle with colleagues, meet new people, and share challenges. They want to feel valued.

If a good customer says, “I was at the show, but —

  1. a) You were so busy no one was available,
  2. b) I just never made it to your booth, or
  3. c) I spoke to Bob (or Jane or Homer) and they said, “There’s nothing new happening”.

Then, you have a problem. A correctable problem, but a problem.


I hope all of these tips helped. As for the first, and most important tip, SpeedPro can help you with that personally. Give us a call at 707 755 3151 and we can get that trade show booth started with stunning and eye catching graphics. Good luck out there!


Above is a customer of ours who is doing a great job at their trade show.  Large format graphics? Check.  Multiple employees helping a potential customer? Check.


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