You planned for weeks or even months, you rehearsed with your staff on how to man your trade show displays, and you created fabulous marketing hand-outs; then everything seemed to go wrong on the floor. Does this sound like a familiar scenario? If so, you know how devastating it can be when the best laid plans go awry. To make sure disasters don’t ruin your carefully crafted marketing plans or destroy your trade show displays, come up with a few back-up plans to keep things running smoothly.
Don’t Let Late Arrival Mark Your Company As Unprofessional
Prepare well in advance to get your trade show displays shipped to the venue with time to spare. Although it may be tempting to use standard shipping, it might be a mistake, particularly if the shipper can only give you an estimated delivery time and date. A delivery estimate such as “five to seven days” is usually an approximation, not be a guarantee. If the shipper gets delayed, it could leave you with an empty space where your booth should be. Opt for a specific, guaranteed delivery date and track your shipment every step of the way.
If you have portable displays you use for local events or smaller venues, consider bringing your portable display with you to larger expos. That way, if a delivery is delayed, you’ll at least have a table top display and some banner stands to work with until your larger unit arrives.
Lost or Misdirected Handouts and Giveaways Can Leave You Empty-Handed
Brochures with details about your company, pricing and inventory sheets, and even your giveaways can get lost en route, while you’re setting up, or left behind at the airport if you brought a case of paper supplies with you to the trade show. No matter how great your exhibit looks, if everyone walks away empty-handed, they will remember you as the exhibitor who didn’t deliver. Always bring a CD-ROM containing your brochure and flyer templates with you. If yours are lost, someone on your staff can run the disk to a professional printer or copy store and have a rush order put together. It may cost you some extra money for the quick turnaround, but it’s far better than having nothing to give. If your giveaways don’t make it to the conference center, be sure to take names and addresses so you can mail them to attendees after the conference is over. Again, it’s going to cost you some extra postage, but people will appreciate your thoughtfulness and you’ll actually be gaining some additional exposure when those people receive your branded gift.
Salvaging A Damaged Trade Show Display
Some trade show displays arrive on the conference floor with damaged parts at every event. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll open up your cases to find bent frames, torn graphics, or shattered light bulbs at some point in your career. In some cases, you’ll need to revert to the portable displays mentioned earlier, but if the damage is relatively minor, you can do some quick repairs that will keep your trade show display open and inviting until you have time for professional repair or replacement.
If you don’t have portable displays to use as back-up, at least have a repair kit with you. It’s amazing what a bit of super glue can do for a broken stand, and duct tape continues to be the simplest way to temporarily repair a tear or a hole in a banner or fabric display. It will hold well enough to get you through the event, but be sure to order replacements as soon as possible so your trade show displays will be in top form for the next convention. If you ordered your materials from a national distributor, give them a call and ask about an emergency replacement. In many situations, they will be able to ship a rush order for the damaged portions of your booth elements.
You’ve trained a team of six people to man your trade show display in two sets of three, an excellent plan. Then, the night before the event, one of your employees calls in sick or gets an emergency call from home and has to leave. Now you’re a man (or woman) short. To avoid this scenario, train several teams how to properly man trade show displays throughout the year. If you need a replacement, you can get a trained, confident staffer on the next plane.
Planning ahead for the worst case scenario is the best way to ensure your trade show displays always look their best, perform exceptionally, and are staffed by helpful, knowledgeable individuals who will knock the socks off potential clients.