Trade Show TalesBlog

Exhibit Designs that Sell — Every. Single. Time.

October 19th, 2013 5 COMMENTS

Katina Rigall, Designer

Hey all, Katina the Designer here! I have a couple of special topics to share with you.


Classic Exhibits is now on Instagram. Please follow us, classic_exhibits, and you will see snapshots of fun items in our shop, blackmail-worthy pics of Kevin and Mel, and some great design ideas! This will be different than our Facebook page or Pinterest account because I am in charge, and everything will be coming from a designer’s perspective. Should be fun!

Designs that Sell

I am often asked to design custom booths, and the #1 requirement I hear is — “Make a design that will SELL!” OK, usually that is a non-verbal request, but it really is the point of what we are doing here, isn’t it? So I’d like to share with you one tip that is tried and true, that has had a nearly 100% success rate for turning a job prospect into a sale.

Allow the designer to work directly with the end-user and/or decision maker. Please!

Bring us in on that phone call when you are gathering information from your client. Feel free to introduce us as your in-house design staff if that helps. We just crave that chance to hear what a client wants directly from their mouth!  And we will have some probing questions that will enlighten our design process and leave the client thinking, “Wow, these people really understand what I want!”

As designers, we have adapted very well to taking in words, spinning them around in our brain, and pushing them out into 3-dimensional designs to be presented to the clients. The design process is heavily guided by the information we receive, so the quality of the information is key. Even the inflection in the decision-maker’s voice clues me in to what they really value, and what they want to emphasize.

Why not just do the information gathering phone call yourself and type up some handy notes to share with us? That works most of the time, but it’s like that old game “telephone,” the more people between the end-user and the designer, the more room for misinterpretation. What typically happens:  the design will hit the mark for the last person who explained the booth requirements to the designer. Hopefully, it is close to what the end-user wants and only requires minor tweaks, but often that is not the case.

100% Success Rate

Before working at Classic, I was the lead designer at a custom exhibit house, and I had the opportunity to work directly with end-users on Every. Single. Project. It was truly gratifying to create designs that hit every request, the verbal and the non-verbal.  You can hear the excitement in a client’s voice when the design strikes a chord with them — it makes them invested, it makes them attached, it makes them want it, it makes them BUY it.

Since working at Classic, the opportunity to speak directly to the client has been more infrequent. But when I do, the design has resulted in a sale nearly 100% of the time. And without the need to go back and do multiple revisions! What I’m asking is that you allow us the privilege to speak with your clients more frequently, increasing your odds of making that sale and increasing our odds of bringing more work through our shop. This is, after all, why we designers have jobs at Classic!

Sometimes it doesn’t logistically work out for us to be in on that phone call for a variety of reasons. Which we totally get. We just hope that when the opportunity does come up, you will think of us as part of your team. We are here to help you and letting us glean information directly from the end-users will reduce misinterpretations and revisions, and get all of us to that all-important sale more quickly.

Thank you for making our team great. We’ll talk soon!

Katina Rigall



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5 Responses to “Exhibit Designs that Sell — Every. Single. Time.”

  1. Katina, Great post! I couldn’t agree with you more. At Optima we always stay behind the scenes with one exception – Design. We encourage our wholesale customers to put our designers in direct contact with the end client. Our best work is a result of direct end client to designer communication!
    Everyone wins.

  2. Tim Toolen says:

    Telephone is a horrible game. I hated it as a kid, and I still do as a professional in the industry. There are so many cues to pick up on as a designer when talking even just on the phone, that we just don’t get from a creative brief.

    I can’t agree with you more on this subject! Well put, and well said!

    – TIm

  3. Thank you Gary and Tim! It’s great to hear you’ve had similar experiences. I’ve already had an increase in the requests for me to speak directly to end-users during the info gathering phase, so it looks like my argument was convincing!


  4. Katina,

    This was so cool to read after I had you come in to a meeting with my client earlier this week! I love having you sit in on meetings and phone calls. You always think of things I miss, and I think that clients feel like they’re really being heard. They’re confident that their message is getting through to the person doing the design, instead of trusting that I can understand and pass it on accurately.

    Keep up the great work!

  5. Thanks Laura! I didn’t realize you hadn’t seen the blog before you asked me to meet with your client! 🙂 Thanks for the feedback, it’s good to know that AE’s see the value in direct contact as much as the designer’s do. I’ve enjoyed working on projects with you because you take these steps that make it easier to do my job well. Here’s to many more successful collaborations!


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