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Spending the money on a trade show booth can be a great thing to get the word out about your business. However, it can also be a huge waste of money if you’re not going in with eyes wide open, aware of all the potential pitfalls that await unsuspecting trade show attendees. Beyond wasting money, a botched trade show event can also have serious lost opportunity costs. Today, we are going to look at 11 mistakes that you need to avoid so you don’t throw any of your hard-earned money down the drain!

#1 – Go in Without A Plan As the old axiom goes – fail to plan, plan to fail. This rings very true when it comes to trade show events. What are you hoping to get out of the event? Only when you have a concrete answer to this question will you know if you have wasted your time or not.

#2 – Skimp on Your Display No, you cannot “just get by” when it comes to your trade show booth. In today’s day and age, people are accustomed to being “wowed” at every turn. People take notice of the best. Your display is your first impression. Make it count.

#3 – Have the Wrong Person Manning the Booth Speaking of first impressions…the person that you put front and center in the booth is going to be a huge part of the first impression that your potential customer walks away with. Make sure that whoever is going to be in the booth has the proper training beforehand.

#4 – Skip the Prep Work These days, everything is on social media, including trade show events. Engaging online prior to arriving at the event can be a great way to warm up some potential leads, create new relationships, and insure that you get the most out of the time you are at the event.

#5 – Have Lame Activities Chances are you know exactly what is being referenced here. Coming up with a booth activity that is interesting, fun, and points people to your product or service can be challenging. However, all your effort will be totally worth it if it saves you from being “that booth”.

#6 – Being Unprepared for The Worst Sadly, we live in an imperfect world. That is why it is always smart to hope for the best but plan for the worst. Do you have a back-up plan in case things go wrong? Whether it is your display malfunctioning, not showing up, not having the location you were planning on, or one of your key people getting sick, make sure you have an idea of what you will do when things go south.

#7 – Not Following Up The conference is over, you are exhausted and ready for a drink. However, now is possibly the most important time of the entire show! Everyone that you have been in contact with are potential customers and you owe it to yourself to follow up to maximize your results.

#8 – Following Up Incorrectly This is where a lot of people mess up a good thing. Your follow up should not be a hard sales pitch. Instead, you should be sincerely looking to connect and provide more value to your potential customers. You should already have built a rapport and the beginnings of a relationship, so don’t ruin it with an attempt at a hard sell.

#9 – Miss the Paperwork Deadline Like most things in life, trade shows tend to come with a lot of paperwork. Turning it in on time is vital to making sure you don’t run into problems later.

#10 – Fill Out the Paperwork Incorrectly The event organizers don’t know all the ins and outs of your set-up. And the only way they can find out what those ins and outs are is through the paperwork you give them. Make sure it is 100% accurate.

#11 – Not Rewarding Yourself Afterwards Now that you have avoided all these pitfalls, it’s time to pat yourself (and your team!) on the back and celebrate a job well done.

Author bio: Mike Weimar is the president of Iconic Displays, a provider of portable tradeshow displays, booths, and exhibits. He has over 25 years’ experience in high-technology marketing and product development.

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