Planning Ideas for Success:10 mistakes that annoy exhibition visitors

Last Saturday I had the privilege to see and hear in person the legendary Jay Conrad Levinson in Sydney talking about the guerrilla marketing concept and techniques, which gave me a lot of ideas on exhibition planning and success.  As Entrepreneur magazine claims: “Jay is one of the foremost business marketing experts in the world. No one knows how to use the weapons of the trade better than industry expert Jay Levinson.”

Planning to sell at your exhibition?  You should not ignore these simple ideas:

Jay is a co-author of Guerrilla Trade Show Selling. The book has easy-to-follow checklists and covers topics including: available technologies; exhibition ideas for non-sales and non-marketing people; behaviour to avoid; how smaller companies can compete with larger companies; attracting the right kind of customers; connecting with prospects; and surviving the show.  Jay wrote Guerrilla Trade Show Selling realising that almost half of all first time exhibitors experience such poor results that they never exhibit again.  Here are the top 10 simple mistakes that annoy exhibition visitors that your staff can easily avoid with some training:

1.    Ignoring a customer

2.    Not knowing the products

3.    Eating in the exhibit

4.    Interrupting a visitor

5.    Hands in pockets

6.    Failing to allow visitors to move on

7.    Excessive touching

8.    Chewing gum

9.    Continuous throat clearing

10. Bad breath

These are just a few of the great practical tips in Guerrilla Trade Show Selling.  What other guerrilla marketing secrets and ideas do you have for your next exhibition?



Coming soon…

Exhibition Measurement Ideas

After each exhibition it is important to measure your achievements and performance against objectives and investment.

It is a good idea to prepare a post-event report, highlighting lessons learnt and areas for improvement next time round.

For the post event measurement you may find this tool useful: This web-site includes a series of simple tools to assist exhibitors to measure performance in delivering a return-on-investment (ROI) from exhibiting.

You can establish how many of your potential audience did you reach.  How active was your staff in reaching your potential audience?  What is the ROI potential from inquiries/leads obtained?

Debrief soon after the show with the whole team.

How to effectively follow up exhibition leads?

Alana on Computer

Keep your diary free for the week after the show for follow up!  Often exhibitors stay longer after the event, visiting key contacts, agents and distributors and holding follow-up meetings with interested parties.

Assess and prioritise leads and required action steps according to importance and urgency.  Make sure you always and promptly deliver on your promises.

A good idea is to prepare an automated follow-up campaign in advance of pre-written letters/emails/messages and other material– ready to implement and send within a week of the show.  You can allocate these tasks to team members.

Another strategy you can use is to send reminders about any trade show offer expiring or invitations to subscribe to your newsletter.  How can you be creative with your follow up?

Undertake ongoing follow up and relationship building with interested contacts, be persistent.

Who has examples where consistent follow up has paid off?


Where do exhibitions fit in your overall strategy?  And where does a specific exhibition fit with your business plan?

Did you know that according to the centre for exhibition industry research 71% of exhibitors go to a trade show without any specific objectives?

Use SMART objectives: Specific , Measurable , Achievable, Realistic and Timely to ensure you stay focussed, i.e. collect 200 qualified leads, give 50 demos, sign 5 agency agreements, sit at 10 organised meetings with business prospects.  At the same time be flexible, to ensure you don’t miss a disguised opportunity.  Is your goal to understand the market competitiveness, to launch your product, etc, etc?

Start planning 9 months before the exhibition.  What is the event audience, i.e. trade, consumer or both? Who are you targeting within this audience – new clients, strategic partners, agents, existing clients? 

Prepare a budget, some of the standard expenses to consider are the costs for

exhibition space, stand (design, materials, constructions, lighting, furnishing, audio-visual equipment), freight of product samples and promotional literature, staff, travel, accommodation, pre-show and show marketing, entertainment, give-aways, interpreters, on site services (power, water, phone, fax). Decide on the scale and style of your exhibition stand, graphics and promotional materials, product display, trade show marketing and exhibition tactics.  

Try this free tool to get more specific numbers in the planning stage: should you exhibit, how many staff are needed to engage your potential audience?  How much space is required to attract and accommodate your potential audience? This web-site includes a series of simple tools to assist exhibitors in planning for an exhibition.

Do your homework, generate as many leads as possible prior to the event, send invitations, prepare an appointment program and in market promotion plan.  These are some of the ways you can maximise your exhibition success and market visit.  If you need help with this and you are an Australian exporter, I am able to assist you as a Tradestart Manager with NSW Business Chamber and Austrade.  More details and specific strategies follow in the preparation section.

Ideas on how to make exhibition visitors stop at your stand?

Com IT Expo @ BKC - Nov 23, 2008

Image by Preshit via Flickr

In the midst of the exhibition madness one of the most important ideas is to stand out from the crowd.  This detail seems to be often ignored by exhibiting companies, who then, without realising, disappear in the exhibition cosmos.  I like the ‘three-second’ rule, this is the small window of opportunity to interest someone as they pass you by. Make your identity as large and clear as possible. It is no longer enough to use your existing company logo and colour coordinate and theme your stand.  The Australian Red Balloon company used a rally car, a hot air balloon basket and other exciting real life props at their first exhibition.  As Naomi Simson says: “we were big, bold and outrageous…we won $500,000 worth of business from the event…” What is your experience, have you seen or used a display that is hard to forget and acted like people’s magnet at an exhibition?  What are your tips for creating a visually striking display without overshading your identity?

Creative Exhibition Planning

What is your unique selling proposition and does your exhibition space convey it?  Think creatively: colour, sound, presentations, graphics, the approach by the staff?  How can you use all five senses to make visitors stop at your stand?

Also, consider this… Attention grabbing stand is great but is it functional?  What is the purpose of your booth space? To present information, give out flyers, to interact with buyers, to stage demonstrations, to showcase your product, to capture leads, to hold key meetings and close deals…  Have you planned and laid out the stand according to its purpose?

Why exhibitions?

Crocus exhibition center

Image via Wikipedia

 If you haven’t considered exhibiting, think about this: where else could you meet your customers, interact with them and receive instant feedback?  Where else could you research the market, find out what your competitors are doing, discover the latest trends in your industry and all that under one roof at the one time? No amount of internet surfing, emails or telephone calls could ever replace this almost outer world experience supercharged with action, information, leads, inspiration, tangible details and real people, the people who will do business with you.  What other benefits can exhibitions bring to your business?

About this blog

2008 Display Taiwan.

Image via Wikipedia

Are exhibitions part of your business strategy? The aim of this blog is to assist you achieve the most successful trade event possible.

The subject of exhibitions and trade shows is relevant for so many businesses.  Every year I work with over 50 different small/medium size businesses who all ask similar questions.  I decided to create this blog, which will explore different topics related to trade events from the planning and preparation stages, to logistics, on site, follow up and evaluation strategies.  This is a platform where everyone is welcome to share their knowledge, experience and tips on how to achieve the greatest possible exhibition success.