Avoid The Top 10 Errors Of Trade Show Exhibits

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If you want to create a great exhibiting experience at this month's Housewares, next month's Builders and April's K/BIS shows, the key is in marketing. But marketing is a very inexact science that leaves room for a multitude of errors.

The following lists 10 of the most common marketing mistakes exhibitors make. Learn to avoid them, and you will increase your chances for a successful show.

10.Failure to have a proper exhibit marketing plan. Having both a strategic exhibit marketing and tactical plan of action is a critical starting point. To make trade shows a powerful dimension of your company's overall marketing operation, there must be total alignment between the strategic marketing and your exhibit marketing plan.

9.Failure to have a well-defined promotional plan. Create a promotional plan that encompasses pre-show, at-show and post-show strategies. Developing a meaningful theme or message that ties into your strategic marketing plan will help guide your promotional decisions. Know whom you want to target and then have different promotional programs aimed to the different retail groups you are interested in attracting.

8.Failure to use direct mail effectively. Direct mail is one of the most popular promotional vehicles exhibitors use. From postcards to multipiece mailings, attendees are deluged with invitations to visit booths. To target the people you want to visit your booth, use your own list of retail customers and prospects-it's the best one available.

7.Failure to give show-goers an incentive to visit your booth. Make sure that you give your majap dealers a reason to come to visit you. Facing a hall overflowing with fascinating products and services, combined with time constraints, dealers need an incentive to stop by and spend time at your booth.

Their primary interest is to see "what's new." Even if you don't have a new major appliance, floor care product or service to introduce, think about a new angle to promote your current offerings.

6.Failure to have giveaways that work. Tied into giving visitors an incentive to visit your booth is the opportunity to offer a premium item that will entice them. Your giveaway items should be designed to make your company more memorable by communicating, motivating, promoting or increasing recognition of your company.

Developing a dynamite giveaway takes thought and creativity. Consider something attendees can't get elsewhere that is product or service related and/or educational. Use your giveaways as a reward or token of appreciation for participating in a demonstration, presentation or contest, or as a thank you for qualifying information.

5.Failure to use press relations effectively. Public relations is one of the most cost-effective and successful methods for generating large volumes of direct inquiries and sales.

Before the show, ask show management for a comprehensive media list and find out which publications are planning a special show edition. Send out newsworthy press releases that focus on what's new about your floor care or major appliance product, or highlight a new application or market venture. Compile press kits for the press office that include information about industry trends, statistics, new technology or production information.

4.Failure to differentiate. Too many majap exhibitors are happy to use the "me too" marketing approach. If you want to be noticed in Chicago, Atlanta or Orlando, you must stand out from the crowd.

Since memorability is an integral part of a visitor's show experience, look at what makes you different from the appliance pack and why a prospect should buy from you. This is of particular concern within the appliance industry, where a sea of white boxes can readily be regarded as commodities.

3.Failure to use the booth as an effective marketing tool. Your exhibit makes a strong statement about who your company is, what you do and how you do it. Have a focal point and a strong key message that communicates a significant benefit to your prospect. Opt for large graphics rather than reams of copy. Create a memorable experience that allows visitors to use as many of their senses as possible.

2.Failure to realize that your people are your marketing team. Your people are your ambassadors. They represent everything your company stands for, so choose them well. Make sure they know what you are exhibiting and what you expect from them.

1.The No. 1 exhibitor marketing mistake: Failure to follow up promptly. Plan your follow-up strategy before the show. Set time lines for follow-up, use a computerized database for tracking, make sales representatives accountable for leads given to them, and then measure your results. n

Susan A. Friedmann works with exhibitors and trade show organizers to improve their success through coaching, consulting and training. For a free copy of Friedmann's ExhibitSmart News, e-mail her at susan@tradeshowsuccess.com or visit her website at www.tradeshowsuccess.com.

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