It’s trade show season. That time between September and November when nearly every association holds their annual events.

In staffing and recruiting, trade shows (and job fairs) can be one of your most valuable marketing tools…if you leverage them effectively. That said, let’s go over the most common conference marketing blunders we see.

Top Five Conference Marketing Mistakes

Mistake #1: Just showing up and hoping for traffic at the booth.

Ain’t gonna happen!

At a trade show or a job fair, you are one of dozens or even hundreds of other exhibitors. If you want to attract employers and/or job seekers, you need to be more strategic before…and during…the conference (more on this in future posts).

Mistake #2: Lousy booth design.

Think of your display like a billboard. The conference attendees are like speeding cars passing by. How will you get people to slam on the brakes and stop off for a bit?

Hint: 400 words of text in a tiny font won’t do it. With your booth display, LESS is more!

Mistake #3: Email only preshow marketing.

In a few weeks, we’ll be headed to Staffing World, the biggest conference in the staffing industry. There will be close to 150 companies exhibiting along with Haley Marketing, and about 90 percent of them will send an email to every attendee with a generic message to “meet us at our booth.”

Here’s the problem. 135 emails that scream “meet us at our booth” equals a lot of deafening noise that results in few, if any, people planning to visit your booth. When it comes to preshow marketing, email alone won’t do.

Mistake #4: Untrained or unmotivated booth staff.

Why do so many “sales people” go to a trade show, and then just sit in their booth? Don’t they care about selling? Didn’t anyone teach them what to do?

At any conference, sales happen outside the booth. At breakfast. During lunch. Over cocktails. And even in the wee hours of the evening with the diehard bar hounds.

No, you don’t have to be a raging alcoholic to succeed, but you do have to get out and mingle, especially during the early parts of the show. And when you are at the booth, you have to be the one to engage people wandering the aisles.

Mistake #5: No follow-up.

Something like 60 percent of trade show leads never receive a follow-up call. 60 percent!

That’s nuts.

If you’ve invested to go to an event, made the effort to collect cards, have a damn follow-up plan. Call. Email. Connect on LinkedIn. And be sure to give people a reason to want to talk to you again.

When following up, put the message in context. Ideally, be specific about what you discussed at the conference. Be clear (and concise) about the value you can offer, and then schedule the next call or meeting.

And don’t limit follow-up to one attempt. Have a plan to nurture prospects over several months. For our team at Haley Marketing, we track the results of a big conference over 6-plus months because that’s how long it takes to get leads to convert.

Up Next: Plan to be More than an Exhibitor!

 If you know you’ve ever made any of these mistakes at a conference, you may be nervous about this year’s trade show season, but don’t worry just yet! My next installment in this series of posts will discuss the steps your staffing firm should take before, during and after an event for achieving success and the highest ROI possible.

Don’t want to wait for the next post to publish? Download the Idea Club article, “Get MORE ROI from Job Fairs and Trade Shows” now!

Leave a Reply