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Seven Deadly Sins of Tradeshow Marketing

Some companies simply exhibit at tradeshows; they basically show up and talk to people who wander into the booth. Other companies use the show to market their products and services. A true exhibit marketer utilizes all of the opportunities that are unique to tradeshows and conferences to achieve the company’s goals, whether they be gathering qualified leads, introducing a new product or service, meeting with clients, etc.

One of the most unique opportunities afforded by tradeshows, expos and conferences is that many clients, prospects, competitors, vendors, and trade press are all gathered in one place. That means valuable face time on a grand scale; you’d have to travel thousands of miles and spend countless months to get the face time made possible by a single tradeshow.

Be a Tradeshow Hero


If you want to get the most out of your tradeshow dollar, make yourself a true exhibit marketer, and don’t commit these “cardinal sins.”


1.  Lack of Preparedness:  Many exhibitors put their tradeshow marketing in the hands of a well-meaning but unprepared administrator without providing any tradeshow training. From the outside, planning tradeshows looks deceptively easy. The reality is that they require much advanced preparation, in addition to a game plan during the event.

2.  Unwilling “Volunteers”:  For various reasons, some exhibit marketers are not allowed to choose their booth staff. As a result, they get stuck with people who don’t really want to man the booth or even be at the expo. Unwilling staffers do not do a good job of representing the company or fulfilling goals.

3.  “I’m Not Authorized”: Some exhibit marketers lack the authority to take the steps and make the changes necessary to actually market at trade shows, rather than just show up. The person at the helm of your tradeshows has to be empowered and have the support of your company’s top tier.

4.  Untrained Melody: Some companies are simply unaware of the need to train employees specifically for tradeshows. Other companies wash their hands of the need to provide ongoing coaching to their exhibit staff, both rookie and veteran. In either case, they are not getting the maximum return on their tradeshow dollar.

5.  Being a Know-It-All: Some people responsible for their company’s trade show program think they already know all they need to know — and they don’t want to find out what they could do better. This is foolish for any situation. Those people are probably missing out on things like promoting their booth via social media, using badge scanners to track leads, and much more. It adds up to missed opportunities.

6.  Who’s the Boss?: At some companies, there is no primary “owner” accountable for their tradeshow program, so multiple departments fight over what to do — or perhaps don’t care enough to fight over it at all. These companies are just wasting money at tradeshows.

7.  Failing To Plan: Sometimes exhibit marketers know what to do to succeed, but frustratingly, lack the budget or the time to create a fully integrated tradeshow marketing program. The company leadership must back the exhibit marketing efforts, committing actual dollars and man-hours toward making it successful.
What are your thoughts on this? We’d like to hear your comments!

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