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Four Trade Show Myths Exhibitors Need To Know About

by Kat Shea 14. September 2011 18:54

Today our featured post is by industry veteran - Bob Milam, aka "Tradeshowbob".  Read on to get his insight on how less can be more.....

The factors that are most critical to your success as an exhibitor are not always what many folks spend a lot of their time worrying about. Contrary to popular belief, these four "myths"  aren’t "mission critical" to your Show Smart success. Exhibitors have agonized and obsessed over them for years and years AND will continue to do so, but if you take a deeper look, these “myths” have little impact on your trade show performance.
1. Overall trade show attendance
Of course, show attendance has declined since the onset of the recession. But look more closely and you'll notice that the declines are the result of companies shrinking the size of the entourage they send. The actual number of companies who send at least one buying rep to walk the trade show floor is actually increasing. Instead of sending a team of 10, companies now send 2 or 3.  But guess what, these 2 or 3 must uncover the same amount of solutions as 10 did previously, so they need your help to make purchasing decisions more than ever! They’re focused, they’re at your show and they’re buying. Will you be able to find them? Instead of worrying about overall show attendance, focus on targetting your share of the audience.

2. Your trade show booth location
Coupled with the trend above, buyers are now very organized when they hit the exhibit floor. They no longer wander around like kids at a carnival. Having an exhibit in the most prominent spot in the exhibit hall might make your executives feel important, but it really doesn't contribute all that much to your trade show's success. Remember, most buyers now attend trade shows with a pre-set agenda of the companies they need to see. As long as you’re on that list, they’ll find you. The key is -- get on their list. And do it before they arrive to the trade show. A successful trade show marketing campaign needs to incorporate integrated elements of pre-show promotional efforts (email blasts, social media posts, high visibility sponsorships, exclusive offerings etc.) to make sure you get on your key buyers' agendas.

3. A trade show booth must be busy to be successful
This is only true if your key prospects are also the majority of overall attendees at a given trade show. Busy booths tire out your staff, but, that "busy-ness" just makes them feel successful.  As in “we’re tired, therefore, we had a good trade show”. However, at most trade shows, your key buyers will be only a tiny percentage of the overall attendance. Think: quality over quantity here. Did you meet all of your key buyers and convey your messages fully to them? Did you walk away from the trade show with enough actionable leads for your sales force to support your overall business goals?

4. The “800 pound gorillas” are the Fortune 500 exhibitors who have the resources to succeed
Absolutely not true. At an average trade show of 600 exhibitors, about 500 of them are small (just like you), 75 are medium size, and there usually only 25 gorillas. You might look around and see other brands plastered on the lanyards, shuttle buses, bags, taxi cabs and airport billboards. You might think, “I have no chance against that”. But you do. By targeting your efforts and focusing on “the few and the proud” (your prospects), you can invite direct comparison with larger exhibitors and get your key prospects to consider you right along with the 800 pound gorillas. If your story is compelling and can stand up to scrutiny, you’ll be noticed and hopefully remembered. Without a big budget, it does take time. But you can successfully ride the coattails of the big spenders and build momentum, if you think strategically and plan carefully.

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