August 12, 2014 | By

The Single Biggest Mistake Made at Trade Shows

With this week’s Procurement Connection Seminar and EXPO taking place in Austin, Texas, we at Jive have been thinking a lot about the elements that make or break a successful trade show exhibit.

Businesses often blame their lack of trade show success on a handful of different things:

“We didn’t provide a giveaway.”

“We should have participated in a show sponsorship.”

“Our booth wasn’t exciting enough.”

“Our exhibit space was too small.”

The list goes on and on, but more often than not, the real cause of an exhibitor’s lack of results (if their product has proven beneficial and successful) is being passive.

Many trade show exhibitors worry too much about “bothering” show attendees. These ones end up glued nervously to the side of their exhibit and don’t tend to make many attempts to interact with people. Other exhibitors seem to have no understanding of boundaries and could be termed as pushy, bludgeoning, or downright annoying.

Here’s our take on trade show etiquette: if an attendee does not show any interest after a brief introduction, or even verbalizes that they’re “not interested,”—then STOP! Don’t pass go, because you will not collect $200. First impressions, even to someone who might not be a customer, are important. The last thing you want is to gain the reputation of irritating exhibitor.

However, don’t ever assume that if people are interested that they’ll come to you. In many cases, attendees are browsing and don’t know what they want. If you read my recent blog post about the different types of personalities you can encounter at a tradeshow, you’ll realize that if you don’t step up to the plate and draw the attendee in with a clever sales pitch, an intriguing question, or even just a friendly or funny introduction, you’re throwing away a valuable opportunity.

Jive Tradeshow Game Plan Before During After Ebook Banner

A few months ago, Jive attended a tradeshow as a first-timer, which resulted (as is normal at large shows) in a less-than-ideal booth location. Some of our neighbors dejectedly sat behind their tables, waiting for that prime customer to come along, but even though traffic was lacking, we stayed on our feet, trying to actively engage passers-by.

The last day of the show, an attendee made his way to the Jive booth, and after introducing myself to him, he noted without hesitation, “It’s refreshing to see you up and about, rather than sitting and sifting through your phone. What is it that Jive does, anyway?”

Sometimes, all it takes is a lively, happy demeanor and a few brief words.

Best wishes to all those attending this week’s Procurement Seminar in Austin, and we look forward to seeing you there! Visit us at booth 23 to learn what Jive does do, anyway!

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