Top 15 Mistakes Exhibitors Make

Here is our list of top mistakes we often see exhibitors make, are you making any of them?

As an exhibitor there are so many things that can affect the decision-making process, and this can impact the overall budget and design of your booth. It is all about finding the right balance and this is dependent on the niche/industry. Without any prior knowledge or experience on this, it will be difficult to make an informed decision, but you can get around this lack of knowledge by speaking to industry experts such as your stand builder to get the right expert advice. We will be running through common mistakes that exhibitors make and how you could avoid them so you can get the most out of your stand at your next event!

1. Unclear Goals

Understanding your goals would be one of the most important things you’ll need to figure out as an exhibitor because based on your goals and priorities, this will drive the overall design and cost of the booth. For example, if you value brand awareness then you would want to portion part of your budget for graphics and signage etc. If you value maximum foot traffic, then you could consider hiring a large prop to attract visitors to your booth. We’d suggest listing out your top 5 priorities and ordered from top to low, your stand builder can then take that list and work on solutions that will meet those goals. Without a clear goal list, you could be receiving proposals that do not fit your criteria and you could be going in circles trying to find the right solution.

2. Wrong Event

There are different types of events that hosts similar industries which exhibitors can attend, but each one may have different entry requirements. Some are B2B (Business to Business) which allow trade-only customers, and some are B2C (Business to Consumer) will allows everybody in – they both will generate different types of audiences and it may affect your success based on how you represent yourselves at each event. For example, if you are at a B2B event, and are displaying a range of large products (instead of highlighting your hero product which you really want to market and expand on), you may not get as much traction, but if you used that same strategy for a B2C event, it would most likely attract more customers.    

3. Wrong Stand Location

With exhibition stands, location does make a big difference. You would get much more visual presence located near the front or middle of the venue when compared to being located on the back wall with only one open side (and less accessible). Keep in mind that exhibitions only last a few days, therefore making sure your booth is visible and in a high foot traffic location will give you that extra boost. When searching for a stand location, as a minimum we’d recommend going with a two-sided location because you can still be rather open and visually noticeable at a distance. The orientation of the booth is also important, you could have a three-sided open booth, but be in a location that faces against the back wall, it will most likely be more effective if located near the entrance, but if located at the back of the venue it could be a hit or miss.

4. Not setting Budget

Without a budget, you could be receiving a variety of stand proposals that come with different stand costs. Not to say that it’s not great for exploring different ideas, but once you do land on a design you prefer – sometimes it is not as simple as adjusting the stand to suit a budget. There are certain processes that must be accounted for when working out the costs of a project, therefore if you have a strict budget, it may be more beneficial to revisit the design instead rather than trying to squeeze it out of a design that simply may not work. Even a budget range will be helpful, does not need to be exact, but will provide you stand builder on which direction they can go to ensure they can execute your booth on time. This way, the process is much more linear, and your valuable time can be exercised on other components on the project, such as marketing materials etc.     

5. Underspend

Since exhibitions only lasts a few days, you could be tempted to spend as little as possible to make the most out of the brief event. This could end up working negatively for you as a business as you will be directly compared to other booths around you it could visually make appear inferior to your competitor which could end up resulting in very little traction. You could be lacking branding or have no source of activity to generate interaction with customers – this would result in an empty frontage with no one walking around or crowds forming. It is not necessarily about the total figure you spend, but more about where you spend it on the areas that count.

6. Overspend

Overspending can happen when you want to a very custom stand that has all the bells and whistles, there is a chance that you could get a similar effect but adopting more cost-efficient finishes or materials. For example, rather than going with 2-pac poly finish which can end up costing double, you could get away with laminate surfaces instead. This all depends on your requirements because you may have the necessity to stick with a spray-painted finish because you want to go that extra mile to get that premium gloss finish or because it may compliment your products. Overspending can also be calculated based on your ROI, the amount you put in, is it generating a return, or would you have gotten the same result if you spent less anyway?

7. Contact too many Suppliers

Doing your research to see the different options are great, but it can really get confusing when you cannot directly compare the different options you are receiving. For example, one supplier may give you a total cost without a breakdown, then another supplier gives you a cost with the breakdown, but it ends up more expensive – that means there is a high possibility that your first supplier could not be accounting for certain details which can be critical to your booth. Then you may contact another supplier, but they provide a completely different solution, but it works out cheaper, how would you be in the position to make an informed decision which will give you the best result? This happens because there are different types of exhibition companies out there who can ultimately execute the project for you. Rather than just gathering costs, it may be more beneficial to limit your supplier reach and rather speak with them to find out what you are really getting – sometimes it is a matter of how well you communicate and get information from your supplier rather than the total cost itself. 

8. Get Everything from Event Organizer/Approved Suppliers

You could be tempted to leave your booth in the hands of the event organizer and approved supplier for that event, but envision yourself in their shoes for a minute, they would have countless enquiries regarding what options/designs they can provide, they would only have limited number of resources to attend to each query. The solution provided will be based on what is most convenient for them so they can ensure they can deliver the booth on time which means a solution which will be more generic and less unique. If you are after a booth that needs to be tailored to your brand guidelines and product placement, you will be better taking some time to reach out to direct stand builders – it will take a bit more effort, but in the end, it will work out more cost efficient for a solution that matches your vision for your business.

9. Choosing a Wrong Stand Builder

The exhibition industry consists of different types of stand builders and each type can offer different exhibition stand types. As an exhibitor, you can be offered shell scheme booths, pop up fabric booths, modular Aluminium booths and fully custom timber booths. Each booth type will be handled by specific stand builder companies, for example you would not contact a custom stand builder who specializes in custom timber stands to request a quote for a shell scheme booth, in the end they could make it happen by outsourcing that scope, but it won’t be your most cost-efficient pathway. Another factor to consider is communication, having a strong communication relationship with your stand builder is important to ensure that what you are expecting is what you’ll be getting once the booth is built – if they are taking too long to respond or are vague with their responses it will leave the exhibitor with uncertainty and that is not the best situation to be in.

10. Not having Promotional Materials

Including promotional materials as giveaways are great for customers to remember you, because at the end of the day each customer would’ve visited multiple booths and collected multiple giftbags and they will most likely look into each bag and see what they got. Without this, there is a high chance they would have forgotten about your booth and your business name because they don’t have anything to remember you by. Even if it is something small like a branded USB stick or cup, having something physical is great for triggering memory. If you really want to take it to the next level, you could have a full branded gift box with different branded items neatly organized inside – this can help set yourselves apart from your competitors and shows that you care about customer experience and quality products.    

11. Not having Actual Products to Present

If your primary business is to do with products, then it is highly recommended to bring the actual product to the event and integrated into a custom product display stand. A lot of people who that goes to events already expect to be able to touch and test products and that is the power of in person exhibitions. Customers who get to interact and use your products get to create their own experience and have a much clearer understanding and trust whether that is something that benefits them if they purchase it. For certain products it may take a lot more effort to get the physical product to the venue, but imagine if you didn’t and were relying on digital representation of your product – that is no different to seeing it at home on the customers monitor etc. The lack of product availability can drastically affect your ROI at events and should be critically considered before deciding not to bring any products onsite.   

12. Not Training the Sales Team

Having an educated sales team is super important, they are the people that is representing your company and sometimes you won’t be able in the position to speak with the quality clients (you could be occupied with another important client). Letting the client wait can also seem like they are less important, therefore having a well-trained sales team and relieve this gap in your sales funnel. As a minimum your sales team should know all the fundamental details about your business and if they get stuck, they should also have pamphlets near by that can help them find answers to any general questions. If the client has very specific and technical questions which only you can answer then, most cases the client will be willing to wait (since you won’t be able to train your sales team with every specific detail). Having a couple of technical staff members on site will also help relieve this bottleneck.  

13. Not Gathering Contact Details

It could be easy to have a constructive discussion with a customer then get distracted and forget to gather their contact details, this means you won’t have the opportunity to follow up with them and means another potential lead lost. Typically, the event organizer will provide you a scanner which will allow you to scan the visitors name tag so you can keep track of who you spoke with, make sure you utilize that technology or have something else in place. This becomes very useful data at the end of the day because you can use this as a report to find out how well your booth performed and could provide guidance and how to approach your next event.  

14. Selling too Aggressively

Selling too aggressively is where you approach customers, get in their face and give them information they did not ask about. For example, a customer asks about how you came up with the idea of your product, but you end up talking about the features and showing them all the different types of products you have on offer. Trying to feed the customer all the features of your product or services can seem overwhelming and robotic, its does not help you connect with your customer and results in a very generic experience for them which they can easily forget. Another example is trying to gather visitors to your booth regardless of if they are interested or not, it puts a negative impact on your brand and gives the customer the impression that you are desperate which will result in a very low conversion rate.

15. Not Following Up

Exhibitions at times can seem like a fast-paced environment and may distract your customer as there are discussions happening everywhere and they may find it difficult to have a serious conversation with you, therefore make sure you have something in place to gather their details so you can follow up with them at a quieter time. You can then have their undivided attention and continue your next conversation with them. At the end of the event, customers can get overloaded with information and forget which stands they visited and what each companies’ strength were, the same goes for the exhibitor, so it’s very important set up a follow up session to catch up with your interested customers.

Conclusion:

From the list above, it is clear that a lot of mistakes can be made as an exhibitor, some you won’t even know you are making. This makes it so much more important to make sure you are speaking to the right people, people who are experienced in the exhibition industry and can offer you advice. Communication is also a key factor, are your suppliers responding quickly and addressing issues of concern from your end? Partner up with UCON Exhibitions for your next event, they are experts when it comes to everything exhibitions – their friendly team is ready for a chat!

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