Your marketing minute: Don’t make these tradeshow mistakes

December 15, 2011 | By | Reply More

Part One – Distractions lead to Disasters

Calgary marketing consultant Donna Dahl brings you The Marketing Minute


By Donna Dahl    

Success at a tradeshow is about communicating that you are serious about getting down to the business of doing business.



So many independent entrepreneurs who take their business to a trade show fall into the trap of being imitators. Start off with a professional presence by avoiding mistakes.

Mistakes at a tradeshow can be enormously costly. Mistakes can cost you lost sales and future customers. Mistakes can cost you credibility points when you didn’t even know you lost any and mistakes can make you think you are a failure. Mistakes will make you think you just wasted a whole bunch of time and money. Stop wasting your resources.

None of these things are good for your business. In fact, they could be bad for your business.

How do you know you have made a mistake? That’s easy. Tradeshow visitors are walking past your booth at the speed of light. They are not giving you the time to connect with their eyes never mind their ears.

How do you really know you have made a mistake? That’s easy, too. You have no leads to follow up on after the show.

There’s big mistakes and there’s little mistakes. Some little mistakes can even work in your favour. A tiny blooper that someone keeps pointing out to you all day…has just done a yeoman’s job of making you memorable. All those that were so quick to point out your teeny flaw, will, no doubt, go away remembering you…especially if you gave them a “prize” for taking the time to care and share.

Over the next few weeks watch for the “BIG 4” Mistakes you don’t want to make when you are taking your business out in public to a tradeshow. The first appears below.


Too many display distractions. Too many distractions mean “the visitor doesn’t know what to be looking at.” Too many distractions mean “the visitor doesn’t know what to pay attention to.” Do you have too much on display? Maybe there is no focal point to your display.

What’s the solution? Ask yourself, “What do I want the visitor to learn from visiting my booth?”

Ask yourself, “What do I want from the visitor? What do I want my visitors to do? What do I want my visitors to see? What do I want my visitors to learn?”

Plan the activity in your booth and the arrangement of your presentation accordingly. Think about it. What if you were to hold an open house at your home? What if 50 people showed up all at once? How would you manage the barrage of people? How would you help ensure that all 50 participated in your event and got some benefit for having paid a visit? How would you make sure that your visitors did not get side-tracked and lose the point of your presence there completely?

Tradeshows are a delightful way to meet the public and to share your products and services. However, just as you can’t open up a store and then decide whether you are selling electronics or children’s toys, you have to decide ahead of time how you are going to manage your traffic and it all begins with avoiding distractions and creating the focus of your display and the purpose of your presence there.

Be sure to read next week’s column on tradeshow signs.

Please note: The material covered here is based on my book “Tradeshows: Building your 30-Second Business.” It comes complete with handy Check Lists to simplify all your preparations.

Donna Dahl is an author, marketing strategist and professional speaker/trainer. Her work takes clients from Stuck to Start™ in 90 minutes. Ask her about her Stuck to Start™ by Phone program. She can be reached at Visit her website at Invite her to do a presentation on improving your memory at or take in one of her shows at Donna Dahl was awarded a 2011, 100th Anniversary International Women’s Day Outstanding Service Award in Business.



Category: Business

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