One key trait of a successful salesperson is his or her ability to know when to push forward … and when to sit back and evaluate. The same principle applies when making trade show commitments for your company — commitments that other people in your department, as well as people in other departments across the company, are ultimately obliged to honor.
Avoid these four pre-event marketing mistakes below for a happier staff and a more successful trade show presence.

Mistake #1: Not Communicating with Other Departments

Startup Business People Working on Laptop
If the next big show is still a year away, it’s easy to simply assume that you’ll have the resources to plan, finance, staff, and market your exhibit when the time comes. But as is often the case, it’s the things you didn’t know (or forgot to ask about) that can come back around to haunt you.
Before you reserve a booth, it’s essential that you call in all the top players from key departments for a quick team huddle to determine things like:

  • Does our printed marketing collateral need to be updated and do we have the budget and manpower to do that before the show?
  • What condition is our booth in? Does it need a makeover? Do we have time to design a brand new display?
  • Are there any other competing events happening at the same time as this show — events that might reduce the number of people who are available to staff our booth?
  • What about outside vendors? Is this a year when we might need to renegotiate contracts, which could possibly delay production of assets needed for the show?

Mistake #2: Not Giving Yourself Enough Time

As most veteran exhibitors can attest, reserving a booth at a big show is only the beginning. A well-thought-out tradeshow exhibit can take six months or more to plan and execute.
Don’t believe us? Just take a look at this Trade Show Planning Guide from the nice folks at Exhibitor magazine. Pre-show logistics alone can take up to two months to completely nail down, and that still leaves the actual exhibit planning and prep time, booth staff training, promotion and publicity, booth shipping, setup and take-down, and more.
Above all, you have to be realistic about your time and budget constraints. If you simply can’t pull it off in the time that you have, consider going to the show as an attendee instead and using it as an opportunity to research your competitors’ booths. Remember, a poorly executed display or a short-staffed booth can do more harm for your company’s reputation than not showing up at all.

Mistake #3: Not Building Any Buzz Beforehand

A lot of businesses are really good at marketing to prospects live from the show floor, but far too many companies fail to fully take advantage of the opportunity to pre-market the event beforehand. Not doing so can have a negative effect on the amount of floor traffic to your booth.
A quick brainstorming session with your marketing team can yield dozens of ideas on how to intrigue prospective show attendees and create pre-show excitement with teaser campaigns, behind-the-scenes show prep videos, swag sneak peeks, exclusive VIP event previews, and more.
One clever tactic is to involve customers and prospects early on by including them in your trade show marketing decisions so they feel vested in your booth’s success. Use your blog, email newsletters, and social media to solicit opinions on things like:

  • Which after-show event would you most likely want to attend?
  • Can you help us name our new tradeshow mascot?

What kind of prizes should we offer as part of our in-booth contest?

Mistake #4: Waiting Too Long to Ask for Help

help spelled in matchsticks
If you’re beginning to get that sunken feeling that you may have over-committed your small staff and over-estimated your resources, don’t wait until the last minute to raise the white flag. There are plenty of ways to get the extra help you need.
For example, in most major cities, you can find temporary trade show staffing companies to help man your booth. In addition, many trade show marketing firms like EXHIB-IT! offer trade show management services to help with shipping logistics and storage for your display materials, exhibit setup and take-down, and more!


Avoid these four mistakes for a more successful show and experience. Planning, communication, and knowing your company’s capabilities are key to pulling off a great show. For more help, advice, and insights, make sure to comment!
Download our Free complete Guide to Successful Exhibiting

Skip to content