Sonas Blog

Bad Trade Show Marketing: 5 Ways Youre Wasting Time & Money

Posted by Aidan Lundy on Jun 8, 2016 7:30:00 AM
Aidan Lundy

Trade show marketing doesn’t always work out the way you planned.

If you’re not sure why your great ideas don’t fly with the convention-going audience or why you’re seeing weak leads despite a lot of popularity, you’re probably falling into one of these typical traps. Address these issues, avoid these ROI-destroying pitfalls, and you’ll see business boom at your next trade show.

Off-brand marketing

The easiest way for a brand to take its trade show marketing off the right path.

All marketing exists to serve the brand, to reinforce it, to ‘brand’ it into as many minds as possible. Delivering an experience at a trade show which directly contradicts your existing brand won’t just fail, it might actively harm you.

If you’re looking to target a new audience, find a segment you can appeal to with authenticity.

Empty gimmicks

Gimmicks often cost more money than they’re

A gimmick which doesn’t offer extra value, something uniquely possible through that gimmick, won’t hold up well at a trade show.

It’s important to remember that ‘different’ and ‘new’ doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘memorable’ or ‘interesting’.

They help! But you need to use them towards a purpose, to achieve something more. For example, don’t rent or buy a 3D printer unless you know how you’re going to leverage it, specifically.

Generating low-value traffic

The ultimate result of all these bad approaches to marketing at trade shows: not a failure to grab attention, but a failure to grab attention worth grabbing.

If your fun little trade show booth drags in huge audiences and runs out of giveaways and time for demonstrations, you might think you’ve had a major success.

But have you asked yourself who these people are?

A good approach to marketing at trade shows should pull in a well-defined audience, directly targeting your most important market segments in such a way that every dime and minute spent generates real profit and useful word-of-mouth.

Failure to seed word-of-mouth

Word-of-mouth reigns supreme!

It’s the greatest thing to engender with your marketing, the best way for any business in any industry to thrive. But if you expect it to happen organically without your help, you’re going to be disappointed.

Seed. Your. Word. Of. Mouth. Tell your newsletter, clients, partners, whoever, to come to your booth and see the great things you’ve prepared. Build in a set amount of traffic to prime the pump before you even arrive. Trade shows don’t last forever. You don’t have time to let one or two adventurous souls spread the word. Pre-spread it, and succeed.

Generic originality

If you pulled your exciting, original idea from a list of exciting, original ideas you found online, guess what? Your trade show marketing will likely fail. While such lists offer great jumping-off points for a business, you should never stop with the first idea.

Take those good ideas and take them a step further—more personal, more unique, more original. If everyone brings out 3D printers or branded USB sticks, and that’s all they’ve got, they’re going to meld into the background.

Let’s take a step back and acknowledge something important before you go: any marketing approach can succeed, with savvy execution, luck, or the right environment. To achieve more consistently successful marketing at trade shows, however, you’re going to want to keep these common flaws and resource wasters in mind.

Avoid major mistakes and missteps and when you do deliver something great, it’s going to hit a lot harder than a great-but-flawed approach.

How to Plan for a Trade Show Event