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Murphy’s Law: How to prepare for a trade show

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We’ve all heard the old adage of Murphy’s Law, which basically states anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Unfortunately, some of us have experienced this phenomenon while exhibiting at trade shows. And let’s face it, with the average business-to-business (B2B) marketer allocating close to 40 percent of their marketing budget to trade shows, most would likely prefer to play it safe and be prepared for just about anything.

This e-newsletter will discuss common things that can go wrong at trade shows and offer tips to prevent these frustrating mishaps. Keep reading for helpful ways to take on the unexpected.

Always be prepared

Planning and preparation are key to any successful trade show. Unfortunately, even though you think you’ve dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s, there are almost always unforeseen circumstances that can throw you for a loop. Here are some common calamities and ways to avoid them.

  1. You’re breaking a sweat: Trade shows are hard work, and often by the time you’re done setting up your booth, rigging the electrical work and hanging your displays, it can feel like you were put through the wringer. Combat premature fatigue with comfortable shoes, and bring an extra shirt, some deodorant and breath mints to freshen up between set-up and show time. After all, you don’t want to start the show looking like you just left the gym. And keep in mind, breath mints and deodorant towelettes make great giveaways, too.
  2. Your booth display is damaged: Whether you had your display shipped or you brought it yourself, there’s always the chance that something will break, tear or act up in some way, rendering your display almost useless. Be ready for unexpected repairs with an emergency kit, containing duct tape, scissors, glue, markers, a sewing kit and a travel tool set. Your emergency tools can even double as giveaways.
  3. Your display never showed up: The only thing worse than your display being damaged is it not showing up at all. If you suspect this has happened to you, don’t panic. First, locate the person in charge to ensure the shipment wasn’t just misplaced. If it is indeed not on the premises, you’ll want to contact your shipping or freight carrier to track down your shipment and gauge its estimated arrival time. Be prepared for the worst-case scenario—in other words, exhibiting without an exhibit—by bringing a few items with you in your travels. For instance, a portable banner with a pop-up stand or an economy-sized fold ‘n’ go tabletop display doesn’t take up a lot of space on the road, but still draws attention to your table. At least you’ll look somewhat official and attendees will know you’re there.
  4. You’re feeling under the weather: Common ailments, such as a pounding headache, indigestion and even dehydration, can cloud your trade-show performance. Take care of yourself by staying hydrated throughout the day and be prepared for the unexpected—keep first-aid supplies, pain relievers, antacids and plenty of water on hand. You may even want to hand out bottled water and first-aid kits as your giveaways.

Remember, Murphy’s Law may try to ruin your event, but, with a little preparation and foresight, you’ll be ready to handle anything.

“Murphy’s Law.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Nov. 2015. Web. Retrieved 18 Nov. 2015.

Thimmesch, Mike. “16 Powerful Stats on the Value of Trade Shows.” TSNN Trade Show News Network. N.p., 17 Aug. 2013. Web. Retrieved 18 Nov. 2015.

Thimmesch, Mike. “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Exhibiting At Trade Shows.” Skyline Trade Show Tips RSS. N.p., 20 Sept. 2009. Web. Retrieved 18 Nov. 2015.

Grommel, Carsten. “10 Things to Always Have at the Booth.” Chronicle RSS. N.p., 18 Jun. 2015. Web. Retrieved 18 Nov. 2015.

“Your Trade Show Display Didn’t Arrive – Now What?” Skyline Trade Show Tips RSS. N.p., 10 Jun. 2013. Web. Retrieved 18 Nov. 2015.

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