Trade Show TalesBlog

The “Why” Can Greatly Impact the “How” in Exhibit Design

October 20th, 2017 COMMENTS

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Several weeks ago, we shared 15 Essential Exhibit Design Questions. These are questions every designer should ask their client before designing the ideal trade show display. In response to the blog post, a designer sent me an email. He wrote,

Here are a few questions we always ask. If the client walks in just thinking about the nuts and bolts of the project, they may miss an informed conversation on why they are exhibiting in the first place and that can fundamentally affect the design of a booth. The Why can greatly impact the How in Exhibit Design.

At that Classic distributor, the designer is usually included in the initial conversation with the client. Depending on which designer you talk to that’s either a bonus or a burden. The questions he shared gauge whether the exhibitor has identified their trade show marketing goals. That’s critical. And yet, it’s easy to skip those questions because doing so can make the potential exhibitor uncomfortable if they haven’t done their homework.

Personally, I’ve been in meetings where merely asking those questions caused the client to consider not buying an exhibit. More often than not they would come back. But not always. Not everyone should be an exhibitor. IMO — If your client intends to purchase or rent an exhibit, they should be prepared to answer these questions.

3 Essential Trade Show Marketing Questions

1. Why are you exhibiting at XYZ Conference?

What does this conference provide that is a benefit for you as an exhibitor? 

2. How would you qualify a successful event?

Expanding brand awareness, generating new sales leads, successful client meetings? 

3. Who is your target attendee at XYZ Conference?

Meeting new prospective clients, reinforcing established relationships?

We often grumble that drayage or labor or freight or show services is killing the trade show industry. However, the single biggest barrier to trade show success is an unprepared, unmotivated, and uninformed exhibitor. It’s easy to blame them for not doing their homework, but honestly, we’re equally to blame if we don’t ask the right questions, guide them to the right resources, and offer professional trade show marketing expertise. After all, we’re the professionals.

Do you have any other “essential” trade show marketing questions? Please share.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

Kevin Carty — Video Update October 2017

October 16th, 2017 1 COMMENT

Kevin Carty’s Vlog.

In this video, Kevin shares his thoughts about fall business, Shared Knowledge University, Classic Rental Systems, and EDPA Access (in late November). It’s been an exciting fall season at Classic Exhibits with increased orders and a HUGE bump in custom builds.

A sincere thanks to the Classic Distributor Network for trusting us with your orders. It’s very much appreciated. See the video below for your complete update.

To view recent projects, go to Past Five Days in Exhibit Design Search.

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

What Makes a Custom Exhibit a Custom Exhibit?

October 6th, 2017 2 COMMENTS

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Earlier this week, I sat in a lengthy build meeting for a $275,000 custom exhibit with the designer, account executive, detailer, project manager, multiple production leads, and Kevin. It’s a 20 x 40 mostly wood exhibit with a 30 ft. arch with compound curves, several retail-esque serving areas, raised flooring, and refrigeration displays for food. Plus, lots of subtle LED lighting. It’s for a March show. Perfect project for November, when there’s typically some slack time in our schedule.

If you saw the rendering (which I can’t share yet), you would say, “Now that’s a custom exhibit.” I told the AE that with his permission we’ll assign a kit number once it’s built and put it on Exhibit Design Search. I was joking. Kinda. But it prompted a conversation, which focused on whether assigning a kit number and entering it into Exhibit Design Search no longer makes it a custom project.

[IMO — It’s still custom. Whether the next client purchases it “as is” or it’s customized to their exhibit marketing goals.]

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At Classic Exhibits, we are often defined (or limited) by Exhibit Design Search, the trade show industry’s leading display database. And because EDS is kit-based, it’s easy to assume we are a portable/modular/hybrid manufacturer. And, we are… and we are not.

Easily 80% of what ships from Classic Exhibits is modified, customized, or custom. Which we encourage. In the current exhibit supplier landscape, there is only one, perhaps two, builders in our industry that do anything similar to what we do. Don’t misunderstand me. There are portable/modular suppliers. There are custom houses. But, there’s really no company with a national, non-franchise footprint that will supply, design, and build portable, modular, hybrid, and custom displays from tabletops to islands for an established distributor network.

Whether or not an order starts from a kit, everything is built to the specifications of the job. And when I say built, I mean built. We don’t pull a box from some shelf and ship it. Sometimes the display is a current EDS design, sometimes it’s inspired by an existing design, or more often than not it’s created by our Designers from your specifications and budget.

So I am confused (and I don’t want to be). When is an exhibit custom? Now more than ever, it seems the term “custom” is fluid.

  • Is it based on materials, project dollar size, or who builds it?
  • Is it an original design, not one based on prior concepts?
  • What if it’s built from modular panels?
  • Does it matter as long as your client views it as custom?
  • And, here’s the tricky one, can a rental be custom?

I’d very much enjoy hearing your thoughts and definition. Thanks.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

What Motivates Trade Show B2B Buyers to Buy

September 29th, 2017 COMMENTS

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Jane Thompson at ThompsonKerr Displays sent an email broadcast with the subject line Know Your Buyers’ Traits. That title intrigued me. Let’s face it, we all want a picture window into how exhibit buyers research, plan, and decide on their trade show purchases.

She referred to the article How to Align Your Trade Show Marketing Strategy with Today’s B2B Buyer Traits at www.customerthink.com. It’s a short article that focuses on four buyer traits and how to align your strategy with those traits:

  1. They Research Online
  2. They Crave Personalization
  3. They’re Social
  4. They Don’t Make the Buying Decision Alone

I encourage you to take five minutes and read it. And then share. This paragraph in particular is worth sharing to every potential exhibit buyer and their staff.

Those exhibiting at trade shows need to understand the prospects are most likely informed about the basic functions and qualities of your products or services before they approach your booth. They no longer need to interact with a salesperson to learn about the high-level information. Use your time at the trade show booth as a chance to build a relationship with the prospect and offer value-add insights that may be more difficult to exhibit online.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

Top 15 Essential Exhibit Design Questions

September 22nd, 2017 COMMENTS

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The best exhibit designs make an emotional connection.

So how do you create a design the client loves without multiple meetings and revisions?

Get the designer and the decision-maker to talk to one another. It works! It’s why the designers at Classic want to be on phone calls with our distributors and their clients. We are happy to be introduced as YOUR DESIGNER. In fact, we are your designers so there’s no need to pretend! If for logistical reasons it’s not possible to have a designer participate in a discovery call with the client, the next best thing is to Answer These 15 Questions (in no particular order).

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15 Essential Exhibit Design Questions

1. Does your company have branding guidelines/logo or graphic files/website address? Can you share these files?

2. What size is the exhibit? Do you plan to reconfigure the exhibit for other shows? If so, what sizes?  Knowing this will guide both the design and the choice of materials.

3. What is the budget? This is essential. Still undecided about an exact budget? The next best option is a workable budget range. No exhibitor wants to be surprised with a beautiful booth outside their budget or underwhelmed by a booth designed for a lower budget.

4. Do you want to purchase or rent? Or a combination of both? This assists the designer in choosing material and designing to a specific budget.

5. What physical properties does the exhibit need to have? For example, workstations, counters, slatwall, semi-private or private conference area, monitors, storage, etc? This information allows the designer to create a functional trade show design.

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6. What type of display have you used in the past? Are you looking for something similar or different? What did you like or not like about the previous booth?

7. Are there any materials or construction methods you prefer? Are you looking for something similar or different? Many experienced exhibitors have a strong attraction or aversion to specific materials.

8. Are there any unusual dimensional restrictions? Can you provide show regulations? Some shows have unusual restrictions for the height of the booth or setbacks from the aisle.

9. Do you show product(s)? What are the dimensions and specifications? How do you prefer to show the products? Display cases, counter top, shelves, hooks, etc.?

10. Does the display need to be portable or modular? Does it need to ship via FedEx or UPS or are you OK with packing in custom crates? This will guide our use of materials.

11. Who will assemble the display:  show labor or your own team? We have great solutions for both scenarios.

12. Do you have any images of design elements you like? Even if these “inspiration images” are not trade show related, they are very helpful. For example, architectural elements, finishes, colors, natural elements, retail environments, etc.

13. Design Due Date? Typically, designs are completed within a few business days. However, every project and every client has their own timeline. We do our best to accommodate requested timelines.

14. Show Opening Date? So very important! Creating the design and them building it depends on the time frame. Designers can make material selections which will go a long way toward meeting a three-week vs. a three-month window.

And My Personal Favorite:

15. Are there any descriptive words you use to describe your company? What do you want visitors to your booth to “feel” about your company? From “opulent” to “bad-ass,” we have heard some interesting descriptors, and this gives the designer the insight to craft a personalized, experiential space.

Are there any other questions on your “must ask” list? I’d love to hear them if you do! Leave me a comment or connect with me at Katina@classicexhibits.com.