Tablets can be used in a large variety of ways in your tradeshow booth. Here are just a few. Maybe you can think of more!
No, things don’t always go wrong when exhibiting at a tradeshow, but when they do, it can throw you and your team for a loop. The best way to deal with what happens when things go wrong is plan for them to go wrong.
Obviously, you can’t game out every scenario. But you can at least anticipate a few things, right?
One way to see what things might possibly go wrong is to read Exhibitor Magazine’s Plan B column, a monthly ‘you-are-there’ description of actual events where things went wrong. Sometimes terribly. But you get to see the creative ways in which people dealt with an unexpected circumstance.
What are some of the things that can go wrong? How about a missing shipment, where only part of your exhibit shows up? Or new graphics are printed but you haven’t had a chance to review them or test them on the exhibit frame because, you know, timing? Or finding out that your booth space wasn’t where it was supposed to be and wasn’t as big as planned.
Frankly, a million things can go wrong and the hardest part of dealing with something unexpected is that you’re in an unfamiliar place. And you may be setting up on a weekend, or in a different time zone and you can’t reach the people you normally would rely on.
And of course, the time crunch of making things happen in short order because the show will open on time whether you’re ready or not.
A few things that I believe can make a difference: knowing who to call. Knowing your vendors or shippers on a first name basis. Having cell phone numbers of critical people who can make things happen quickly, like printers, exhibit makers and more.
Another common denominator is that most of the problems take place early on during setup, which means making sure all of your vendors are on alert for anything from late night phone calls to early morning emails to deal with situations that arise.
One way to head off potential problems is to get ahead of the game as much as possible. Get graphics designed sooner than you might normally plan. Get them produced and fitted ahead of time. Set up the exhibit prior to packing it for shipping to make sure all pieces are there and still fit; we all know that exhibits are packed away quickly and that some things get broken or bent or torn and no one will notice until it’s too late. Which means that one of the best things you can do is go through your exhibit crates on a slow day shortly after they return from the show. It’ll give you a chance to take the time to confirm that all is as it should be or uncover potential issues way before you’re under a time crunch.
Bottom line: be as prepared as possible before things ship and have contact info for all of the players at your disposal (and have a full-charged phone or a portable power pack!). And if all of those plans don’t head off a problem, work with the creative people in your setup crew and booth staff. Putting heads together instead of trying to solve everything on your own is probably the best way to work your way through a difficult and stressful unexpected problem.
What’s in a book? In many cases, the right book can take you to another world, to help you momentarily escape this world. In the world of business, a good book can open up your mind to other possibilities and show you things that you might not have even considered before. This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee examines a half dozen books from my personal library that I’ve found more than just useful.
Books mentioned in this week’s vlog/podcast:
- Getting Things Done: David Allen
- Guerrilla Tradeshow Selling: Jay Conrad Levinson, Mark S A Smith, Orvel Ray Wilson
- The New Rules of PR and Marketing: David Meerman Scott
- Can We Do That?: Peter Shankman
- This is Marketing: Seth Godin
- Thinkertoys: Michael Michalko
This week’s ONE GOOD THING:
Let’s break it down into a handful of easy steps. It starts with gathering the right information at the tradeshow and then making a seamless handoff of all of that information:
Now that most companies haven’t exhibited at a major show in the US for nine months or so, where does that leave their marketing efforts? I’ve heard some companies badly miss shows because that’s where a large portion of their lead generation came from and without that they’re struggling to generate as many solid leads. Some companies have shifted to other marketing outlets and been at least moderately successful, and I suppose some companies have even determined that they don’t really need tradeshows.
It’s my impression that there’s always been a bit of perception from many management and sales staff that tradeshows are a grind, a big waste of money and time. That they only attend because their competition is there but if they could they’d bail on exhibiting or even attending shows.
Meanwhile, tradeshow managers are buried in details of exhibiting and logistics and new product launches and are-there-enough-samples and so on.
By the time bigger shows return, it’s likely that at least a year will have passed for many exhibitors since their last appearance at a national or international show, and the question is undoubtedly being asked: are tradeshows still even that important?
That question can only be answered by each company individually based on their own goals, budget and personnel.
One result might be that companies will exhibit at fewer shows. If that’s the case, the focus on the shows should be to make sure that exhibiting is worth their time. Maybe you’ll have the same budget but with fewer shows, you can concentrate on those select handful of shows and make sure you carefully and completely execute all of the tradeshow marketing steps from A to Z to ensure great results.
Another consequence of the coming post-COVID world may mean smaller budgets, which means downsizing your exhibit, or renting an exhibit save a few dollars. Or taking fewer people to shows.
One other change that I believe will be a result of no tradeshows for a year or so: the psychological effect on both exhibitors and attendees. How will we feel, for instance, about shaking hands with people we meet, or hugging old friends that we haven’t seen for a year or two or three? How will food companies hand out samples so that everyone who is picking up a tasty sample is comfortable with it? Will we really feel okay flying across the country to attend a show, stuck in an airplane for hours with strangers? Some will be okay; others may have high levels of anxiety. It’s likely that aisles will be wider, giving more separation between booths and giving attendees more space to keep people at a distant.
Things will change, things are already changing.
I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Building software to host a virtual event poses a million questions, many of them hoping to address the user experience. And the exhibitor experience. How to keep people engaged, how to keep them from being bored, how to have conversations, how to connect, how to give keynotes. And so on. I recently caught up with Sandy Hammer, co-founder of AllSeated, which has recently launched virtual event software that looks, well, impressive. She and I sat down to talk about it, and to give her a chance to show us a little bit about how it works: