Last week we revisited one of my favourite themes: the shocking inability of most companies to properly execute a trade show. People have been gathering in markets for thousands of years, successfully trading everything from horse livery to body hair removal and yet a bunch of college graduates let loose in a convention centre can’t seem to get out of their own ways long enough to separate some people from their money.

It must be the lack of rain, flies, noise and threat of Mongol hoards that makes us lazy and not very bright when it comes to trade shows. Last week we looked at four cardinal sins: eating, popcorn, staring and reading. This week, I have a couple of more to share and then I will move on to other marketing things:

Did You Want Some Privacy for That Call?Is this your show booth or a phone booth
If you are expecting a customer to walk into your office at any minute, do you make or accept phone calls from other people? When that customer actually arrives, do you continue to talk, right in front of them, or do you have the decency to take your conversation someplace else? This dude did not get that memo. Just for fun, I watched for about five minutes as customers (remember, folks, these are the people with the money that you want to take) slowed down for a look and then moved on. Maybe it’s just that Canadians are too polite to interrupt a phone call, or maybe it’s just so over-the-top rude that we don’t want to do business with someone like that.

Hunting Wabbits:Hunting Wabbits
One of my favourite designers, Bruce Chapman, reminded us in a comment last week, that another trade show distraction for Sales Squirrels is the regrettable presence of the Booth Bunny. To refresh your memory, these creatures are the 18-year-old students hired by unimaginative marketers (or highly imaginative sales people) to jiggle about the booth and stop traffic. Sadly, it’s not a bad way to stop traffic but it can attract the attention of fellow vendors, whose Squirrels keep turning up, um, nuts-in-hand (sorry) to have a chat. When they do that, the booth looks like this one. If someone walked into your office and found an empty reception area, how long do you think they would wait?

The Worst Ambush Ever:Ambush with typos 2
You will recall that I am a fan of doing your marketing in the shadowy outskirts of large shows. If budgets are tight, I think it’s perfectly okay to skip the crappy booth and throw an amazing party or hospitality suite nearby. Show producers hate that but I don’t care. So I was quite pleased to be ambushed on my way into the convention centre one day by a young lady handing out these postcards for a relocation company. Clearly a booth was out of budget range. Sadly, so was a marketing person who can proofread. Folks, if you’re going to do street lamp marketing, you need to pull it off with some class. The back of this postcard is tragically bad too and does no favours for its poor brand.

And a Ray of Hope:

Helping out a show
If you think I spend my time at shows looking only for bitchy blog fodder, you will be mostly right; but sometimes I see something that gives me hope. Something new, something different, something compelling. And here is such an example (apologies for the terrible photo). Hats off to the Ian Martin Group which chose to collect something at their booth instead of giving something away. The poster is hard to read but explains the company’s charitable giving program and asks passersby to throw in a little change. A vase full of coins, believe it or not, stops traffic dead. I hope they raised a ton of money.