Avoiding Mistakes As A First-Time Exhibitor

Avoiding Mistakes as a Newcomer to Exhibiting at Trade Shows

A great trade show booth can draw in potential leads, help you stand out from the crowd, and pitch your solutions to a concentrated group of prospects face to face. When things go wrong, you can be out dollars, clients, and future sales, wasting your time and investment. When it goes right, it can make the hours you spend planning and hosting completely worth it.

Adler Display can help you avoid these common rookie mistakes. We’ve seen them at too many trade shows to let our clients get trapped.

  • Failing to Plan

We’ve written a lot about setting goals and expectations for your show. It’s really the most important step because your goals should inform everything you do, from the size of your trade show booth to your graphics, your staff, and your pitch.

Planning can also help you stay on budget. Make sure you review the show handbook and identify key dates to prep any new booth graphics, freight and setup, order show services, and take advantage of early bird discounts.

  • Keep it Simple

You don’t have to make a huge splash at your first show. It’s very exciting to begin exhibiting, but trying to do too much at first is almost a sure-fire recipe for failure. Instead of cramming your booth with information, tchotchkes, and staff, keep your message simple and focused. Simplicity makes for cohesive graphics, well-thought out giveaways and games, and knowledgeable staff that will produce results.

  • Promote Your Presence

Even if you have the biggest booth on the show floor, don’t count on getting every targeted attendee through your space. Make sure your website visitors, social media followers, and email list know that you’ll be in attendance.

  • Choose and Train your Staff Carefully

Trade shows are the only events that truly offer ample one-on-one, face to face marketing opportunities with people who make decisions.It is extremely important to choose your staff carefully for personality and attitude, not just location or title. Once you’ve picked your team, get everyone together. Make sure they mesh well, can actively draw prospects in, and have the knowledge to answer any questions. Staffers who aren’t comfortable having in-depth conversations with strangers and only want to hand out literature or giveaways should not be at the booth.

  • Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up!

Fresh show leads should never take second place to other activities, but they too often do. You’re going to be putting in a lot of time and effort attending your first trade show. Don’t waste all that energy in the post-show daze. Make sure you or a staffer collect leads, sort by priority, and follow-up comprehensively with the prospects you attracted. Setting goals and responsibilities for your staffer should definitely include this role.

Follow-up with your booth staffers as well. A review of the show, including what went right, what went wrong, and what could be improved, will help you and your team knock it out of the park next time.


Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings over 78 years of experience to its clients in need of recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics.  For more information about Adler Display, please visit our website at www.adlerdisplay.com or call us at: 855-552-3537.