Anyone who’s ever run a trade show booth is familiar with all the common trade show tricks, but these seven are don’ts even though they may be on almost everyone’s list of do’s!

  1. Flying candy. One of the most common trade show tricks is to have lots of wrapped candy and throw it at the passers-by in order to get their attention. Whoever popularized this trick deserves to be relegated to Hades for all eternity, as not only is it a cheap trick but you’re more likely to offend than engage. Is that purchasing manager really going to give you that quarter million dollar deal because they caught a flying Werther’s? If the appeal of your brand is so weak that you need to resort to tossing Jolly Ranchers around you should have saved the trade show expenses and stayed home.
  2. Come for a bite. Luring the attendees to your booth with food is just as bad as tossing lemon drops at their heads. Unless you’re a food-related company providing samples, you’re not going to sell hydraulic pumps because you have the tastiest churros at the show. Not only does preparing and offering food create a logistical nightmare but if you leave that potato salad out a bit too long your booth will get the massive media attention alright, but it will be for food poisoning the punters.
  3. Ask questions. The trade show pros keep harping on that you need to have your staff ask questions of the prospects but sooner or later that starts sounding like an interrogation. A couple of basic questions to establish the customer’s range of interest are fine but beware of crossing the line into outright prying. The attendees are at the show to get information, not be squeezed for your edification.
  4. Loud & louder. The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but the loudest booth only results in attendees fleeing to the next aisle so that they can escape your aural barrage. Keep the soundtrack down to a dull roar or better yet silence the display entirely. You’re at a trade show to transact business and that requires your staff to be able to converse comfortably with your customers without having to shout at them as if you were trying to pick them up at The Ministry Of Sound.
  5. Mobile tech. Everyone has a smartphone and/or tablet and while it is perfectly common to spend a large portion of your life hunched over it, tapping and swooshing away, you should lock up your staff’s devices whenever the show is open. Unless they specifically need access to that device to check product details or communicate with other personnel, mobile technology is a huge distraction both to the staffer and the customer. If all you were going to do at a show is text, you could have done it from the office.
  6. The big giveaway. Contests and draws are a great way to build your social media presence but when it comes to trade shows, they’re a really bad idea. No matter how you structure your contest it’s going to backfire: If the prize is too cheap it’s going to reflect on your brand, and if the prize is too expensive the customer is not going to believe that they have a chance of winning it.
  7. Show up. This may sound like heathen heresy but is your presence at that trade show really going to be a positive feather in your brand’s cap? Would you have been better off to just concentrate on a couple of the primary trade shows and skip all the borderline ones where you’re never likely to get any net return on your investment? Unless you can be assured that you’re truly boosting your brand’s image and/or you’re going to earn at least the amount in net profit margin that the show is going to cost you, it might be a good idea to consider skipping this one.

Check these top seven off your list and your brand will have a much better experience!