A day at the B2B Marketing Expo is always interesting.  Why did I go this year? To see if there were any new service providers who may be useful for my clients and to learn something new in the masterclasses. An added bonus was catching up with a recent addition to my network to get to know more about what they do.

So how did it go?

I saw a lot of companies wasting the opportunity to maximise the ROI on their investment. Let me explain.

According to the show’s organisers the event attracts “over 7,500 marketing directors, executives and decision makers” and gives exhibitors the chance to “Meet hundreds of potential buyers face-to-face over two days, raise their profile in a competitive market, collect high quality leads and generate sales” All is good so far – because that is what the exhibitors want.

So why do they then muck it up in three distinct ways:

1. Stands that talk about themselves

As a services buyer, I don’t care what you claim you are good at. I won’t believe that you are “London’s leading provider” or that you can do clever stuff with code.  I want to understand what you can do for my clients. I treat trade shows in the same way as I treat art galleries (not that I go to many art galleries). I walk through until something grabs my attention.  This may be someone talking to me. This may be the display stand. It may just be free sweeties. But something has to grab me and it is usually the wording that I am looking at.  TELL ME WHY I SHOULD STOP AND TALK TO YOU.

The stand in the image was the first one I saw that talked to me.

2. Disinterested staff

If you’re going to invest £1,000’s in a stand and all the collateral that goes with it, you want your staff to be talking to the visitors. You never know who they are and you never know who they know or work for. I mentioned someone talking to me earlier. I hadn’t stopped, but he asked me a question. Being the polite soul that I try to be, I stopped because he asked me and it was a good question. His product was really interesting (marketing planning tool) but as we talked, it was aimed at companies spending upwards of £0.5mill on their marketing.  Bearing in mind my audience

3. Lack of follow up

Whilst I hope that I am wrong here, previous experience says that some of the people I spoke with will not follow up with me. Even if they do, the chances are I will hear from them once in the next two weeks and probably never again.

If you are going to invest in a trade show (they can be extremely effective), please don't waste your money with these three cardinal sins.

I hope this helps.