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Putting Blindfolded and Other Trade Show Blunders

Putting Blindfolded and Other Trade Show Blunders

Recently read: Ryan C McKay via LinkedIn, and edited for space…

Have you ever watched professional golf?

I mean REALLY watched it? You’d be amazed at the subtleties you can pick up when you watch pros competing at the top of the game. You catch tiny twists of the grip… adjustments in the knees and the feet that are so small that they wouldn’t cause a single pop if this golfer had been standing on bubble wrap.

Do you know what you DON’T see? You don’t see any of the pros line up their ball backwards. You don’t see them spin around in a circle 20 times before taking their swing, and you certainly aren’t going to see them blindfold themselves before they putt.

All too often though, I DO see people do this (and worse) to themselves when they exhibit at trade shows, and let me assure you, the results are usually equally disastrous.

I’m sure that at some moment in your past, you’ve heard some self-help “guru” tell you that you can’t possibly hit a target that you aren’t aiming for. That you have to SEE the victory if you have any chance of REACHING it. I can’t begin to count how many people have told me that their trade shows “haven’t been working” for them. “All the money we spend each year and NOTHING.”  Or, “We never get enough out of them. I don’t even know why we go year every year.”

I used to take it personally… like it was somehow my fault for working in the industry. Then things changed after a client had told me all about a “disappointing show,” and I asked him what goals he had set.

“Basically, just to bring a decent amount of new business,” he replied.

“Something we would all want. What would you call ‘decent’?”

“Oh, I dunno. Enough to make all the trouble worthwhile,” he answered.

“What counts as worthwhile?”

Clearly, he didn’t have a number in mind. That’s where he went wrong, long before the show even started.


The problem with most unsuccessful trade-show efforts is that we don’t set goals. Wanting to “get a lot of new business” isn’t a goal. It’s a wish. Wanting to “make 50 new post-show appointments,” however, IS a goal. It’s specific, measurable, and it moves the needle just enough to be taken seriously without seeming impossible.

This kind of goal is a far better measuring stick than a wish because you can measure the results. If you go to a bank and ask to withdraw $50, you can count what they give you. If you go to a bank and ask for a fistful of dollars, it won’t happen.


So, before you spend another dollar on trade show marketing, ask yourself these questions:

1.) What are my specific goals for this effort?

2.) What ROI am I looking for in my marketing?

3.) How will I measure where I stand on my goals?

4.) What do I need to do BEFORE I start my campaign/show, to increase my chances of success?

5.) What is the time frame I am setting for my goals?


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About Joan Weis