Don't Blow the Show

Make the most of your first trade show by breezing past these 5 common blunders.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the December 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Manning your business's trade-show booth for the first time is an exciting opportunity. But Linda Rodriguez, founder of My First Trade Show LLC, a Miami Beach, Florida, company that provides trade-show training to small businesses, says first-timers often make the following mistakes:

1. Not preparing for hidden costs: Trade-show newbies often don't know about required amenities like electricity, carpeting and so on for their booths. Make sure you know all the costs upfront-ask organizers what's provided and what companies have to procure themselves.

2. Spending too much money on the display: For your first trade show, says Rodriguez, buy conservatively. "Even if you have a very basic booth, you can make [up for it] with your booth staff," she says.

3. Improper preparation of booth staff: Everyone should be knowledgeable about the product or service and be able to answer questions-no relaxing with food or long cell phone conversations allowed. According to Rodriguez, "[It's about] focusing on the customers and engaging them."

4. Asking the wrong questions: Don't waste time asking passersby questions like: How are you doing? How's the show going? Instead, go for open-ended questions like: Why did you stop at my booth? What about the exhibit caught your eye? What are you looking for in a specific product? Take notes on lead cards.

5. Not setting goals ahead of time: Define exactly what you want to accomplish with this trade show-100 hot leads, five press appointments and so on. After, evaluate whether or not you hit those goals and what you can do better next time.


More from Entrepreneur

Learn how to get your own business launched with our on-demand start-up course. Whether your ready or just thinking about starting your own business, get started for free with our first 3 lessons and receive a personalized 1-page business brief.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Create your business plan in half the time with twice the impact using Entrepreneur's BIZ PLANNING PLUS powered by LivePlan. Try risk free for 60 days.

Latest on Entrepreneur