Weekly News & Insights: When Things Go Sideways

Yesterday, my computer lapsed into a coma. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t wake it up. While I have an appointment with the computer “doctors” this afternoon, it’s not soon enough to gain access to my notes from the week for this column.

Ultimately, there’s a lesson (actually several) in this for exhibitors. First of all, always, always, always have a Plan B. Things will go wrong, most often at the worst possible time. Your booth fixtures may not show up. The show may switch your booth space at the last possible moment with no prior notice. Your staff could flake out on you. (I’ve experienced all of the above!)

But no matter what — as the old saying goes — “The show must go on.” Find a way or make a way. Rent the furnishings on site, or buy something simple from a local supplier. If you’re missing graphics, get a quick banner produced locally. (You DO carry backup files, right?) Make friends with the exhibitor in your assigned space (assuming it’s not your staunch competitor) and agree to send people each other’s way. And if it’s your staff, make time for a heart-to-heart and let them know what’s at stake … for your company, and them personally if they don’t get on board.

While I’m hoping my computer is not beyond reviving — especially since I’m getting ready to unveil a brand-new learning tool in just a few days — I’m already using Plan B. Thankfully I have two other computers plus an iPad that I can access (even though it’s not quite the same and I am minus some files). So the show will go on.

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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