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CHALLENGES: Trade show best practices, improved processes and a little pixie dust



From the FOC Marketing Blog, Trade show best practices, improved processes and a little pixie dust, here are my notes about Challenges…

fiber optic center marketing blog graphicA confession about myself is that I am a planner. I was taught, early on, that my name is on everything I do and therefore take great pride in my work and that reflection. Trade shows, always evolving, continually add to the complexity of their planning and execution. Despite all the hours that go into the details, there will always be surprises. My super-duper spreadsheets and notes do not make ours exempt.

The words no one wants to hear, especially the marketing perfectionist, is “we have a problem.” My approach to that dreaded and inevitable moment is in three parts:

1) know that I have accomplished the best planning possible, before I get there, to hopefully avoid them,

2) have realistic expectations that things will arise (better to be pleasantly surprised by being wrong about that than the other way around) and

3) keep perspective that there are solutions to almost all problems.

The heading for this section is actually challenges because I learned years ago, raising my children, that semantics are critical to outcome. There was actually a clever article, when my son was young, about how “alarm clock” implies negative reactions to awaking for the day and it should be called an “opportunity clock.” In full disclosure, we call them alarm clocks at our house because we are not that happy-go-lucky (unfortunately) to change every traditional word BUT that one article was a great catalyst for thinking about what we are saying and implying on a regular basis. I have made an effort to call problems “challenges.” It has certainly helped me in the trade show aspect of my job.

I learned from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher to categorize challenges as either a “real” challenge or a “fixable” challenge. Being consistent with the language between my children’s home and school is pretty helpful, plus it is a great way to approach anything trade show related, in my book … real or fixable?

The definitions I developed for these (with a little help from the greatest kindergarten teacher ever) are:

  • Real Challenges are those that result in a failure to meet objectives. I also sometimes ask myself, will this matter in five years and anything that might is a real challenge.
  • Fixable Challenges are those that can be resolved. They are generally all of the things that also will not really matter in five years.

In our world here at FOC, 95% of challenges as a trade show exhibitor are what would classify as fixable challenges. We have experienced the wrong power cords, missing materials or supplies, broken lights, key staff becoming ill, missed flights, wrinkled and once ripped graphics and even a current issue I am battling today that my show-organized hotel rooms have been cancelled due to an issue with the venue. I guess that one could move to the other bucket of “real” if I do not find a solution before we arrive.

Only 5% would be in the real challenges, or we now can say actual problems, bucket. I have experienced a lost shipment of materials and an entire shipment being held in customs for over a week. When I finally got my shipment through customs (and that took a ton of extra work and some luck to do so) even that was updated to fixable.

Kathleen Skelton’s full blog can be read here.