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Stop wasting your trade show investment

By December 2, 2022February 16th, 2023No Comments

B2B marketing expo trade show
If you exhibit at a trade show and don’t maximise the number of people you talk to, you may as well not be there. Spend your money on something else; something that interests you and will deliver the ROI. Here’s the top 5 errors made at trade shows by businesses and people.

1. Don’t turn up

The biggest of the errors made at trade shows is simply not turning up. By lunchtime at the B2B Marketing Expo, there was someone in every shell scheme stand, but at 9.45am (15 mins after the show opened), there were empty stands. With shows frequently charging upwards of £450 per square metre, why would companies spend a minimum of £3k and then turn up late? Most people walk around a show once, before then going back to the stands that catch their attention. An empty stand catches attention but in the wrong way.

2. Don’t talk to visitors

trade show delegates ignoring visitors and losing business

It is always amazing that many exhibitors will stand there, waiting for visitors to approach them. Why not talk to them? If someone is hovering, they are interested. They’re either trying to work out what your company does or thinking about how can help them. Either way, they are going to be open to a chat. Even it they say no, what have you lost if you say hello? If you don’t, you’ve definitely lost the opportunity.

This image is a typical example (smiley face emojis are protecting the guilty) of what we mean. Sharing a “funny” on your mobile whilst potential clients are walking past is not a great way to spend your time.  Whilst you cannot spend every moment talking to visitors, if you need a break, get off the stand!

3. Poor headlines on your stand Vertical Leap trade show stand

Considering the B2B Marketing Expo is full of marketing companies, it was good to see better headlines this year (see Vertical Leap).

Headlines that either:

  • Say what they do (& not how they help)
  • Say way too much

are not going to attract prospects.

Think about what your clients get from working with you and build your headlines around that. Make it amazingly easy for them to understand why they should talk to you.

4. Don’t follow up

The whole reason for exhibiting is to collect contact information from potential new clients. If you don’t then make use of that data, what was the point of going?

We deliberately published this article a little while after the show. This was to see how many companies contacted us, and how long they took to do so.
The b2b Marketing expo closed on Wednesday, the 23rd November. The first companies had contacted us by Friday, so all good. By the time we published, most had contacted us now, including one pushy sole who wanted to book a sales call in the moment he called (not a good idea!).

Followup campaigns

Your follow up campaigns should be prepared before the trade show. Normally a set of emails designed to thank your visitors for engaging, and then help them understand more about how you can help them. You then simply must add contact data and press send. The longer you leave it to follow up, the less important you make that visitor feel. 

Depending on how people engage with those emails will depend on what you do next.

one other point:

If you get the whole list of registered visitors, don’t send them all the same campaigns. Some won’t have gone (even though they registered) and most won’t have talked to you). Perhaps you can run a “sorry we didn’t see you “campaign to raise who attended, but you didn’t scan them?

5. Stop too soon

Just because they gave you their details doesn’t mean they are ready to buy now. It may be months before they need what you do. Once you complete your follow-up campaigns, make sure you keep communicating with them so they don’t forget you. Every sales trainer I know says that people stop too soon.  They make a few calls and then give up.  It is the same here. You may complete the follow up campaigns and they may still not be dropping further into your pipeline, but that doesn’t mean you give up.  Keep them on your mailing lists. Give them a call once in a while. The last thing you want is for them to fall out of your pipeline just before they realise they need what you sell!


So those are the 5 biggest errors made at trade shows. They’re not right for every business. But they can be a tremendously powerful part of your marketing mix if done properly. If you have a show coming up and need some help, call us on 020 8634 5911 

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