Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for June, 2009

Building a Better Trade Show Booth – Design and Planning

June 30th, 2009 COMMENTS
Building a Better Trade Show Booth

Building a Better Trade Show Booth

What You Should Know about Exhibit Planning

  • Start the planning process early and assign someone to handle the schedule
  • Create a budget that reflects the true costs of exhibiting
  • Select the right size exhibit for your budget and marketing goals
  • Trade shows can be expensive, but it’s not difficult to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI)

“Build it and they will come”– This phrase should be your mantra when designing your trade show booth. With a carefully designed booth, you stand a much better chance of attracting potential clients, making sales, gathering contacts, and generally spreading the word about your company. Think of your booth as a microcosm of your business.

Planning and Budgeting

It is best to plan early. Assign one person to be in charge of timetables and scheduling. Assign another person to draw up the budget and to define the marketing goals. This person will have to account for the cost of renting or buying a booth, the cost of accessories such as literature racks, as well as travel expenses. Travel expenses will vary depending upon the location and duration of your stay. If you decide to rent, you should expect to budget:

  • 25% on renting your booth space
  • 20% on design and graphics
  • 15% on electrical, cleaning, and drayage
  • 10% on shipping materials to and from the trade show
  • 10% on press kits and preshow promotions
  • 20% on staffing, travel, and other miscellaneous expenses


5 Surefire Ways to Drive Your Graphics Provider Crazy

June 27th, 2009 COMMENTS
How to Drive Your Graphics Provider Crazy

How to Drive Your Graphics Provider Crazy

Your graphics provider has it pretty easy. After all, you do all the work. You create print ready files, follow the rules for good output, and double-check everything to make sure you get what you expect from the process. All the graphics people have to do is push a button, right?

Here are some tried and true tips to assure your graphics provider rewards you with the PIA (Preferred Ideal Account) status you deserve.

  1. Submit your art and request a proof or PDF. Approve the art for output, then, 1 hour later, request a change and a new proof. Approve new proof but 2 hours later call to request another change. You can repeat this several times to impress your graphics rep about how you are both detail-oriented and a perfectionist.
  2. Every time you submit a job, deliberately exclude a link or font from your artwork. Time how long it takes before you get a phone call. Keep score.
  3. Mystery jobs are fun and exciting. Send art to your graphics company without a return address or known company name. Do not include instructions. Call the day you expect the work to ship to see how your rep will solve the case.
  4. (more…)

Word on the Street — June 22nd thru June 26th

June 26th, 2009 1 COMMENT
Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

What’s Your Value Proposition?

This was a frequent topic of conversation this week as I traveled. Both in my meetings and in a conversation with the person sitting next to me on my flight back to Portland.

Wikipedia defines Value Proposition as: “A Value Proposition consists of the sum total of benefits which a vendor promises that a customer will receive in return for the customer’s associated payment (or other value-transfer).”

Whether you are a manufacturer trying to secure a new distributor relationship or a distributor trying to sell a new exhibit, your Value Proposition is often one of the most important deciding factors whether a customer decides to do business with you.

It does not have to be one product, one service, or one quality. As a matter of fact, it should consist of several attributes and qualities. At Classic, we try to live by several that make up what I believe is the Classic Value Proposition.

Here are two examples:

1. The first is simple and many of you have heard me say it many times, “We do what others are unwilling or unable to do.” A great example of this is how we approach our CNC metal bending process. Our competitors generally shy away from bending aluminum extrusions along the “hard edge.” A good example can be seen in the VK-1043 Magellan Hybrid Display. Often, kits like this are born from projects that came to us because an existing provider could not or would not produce the unit the way the client wanted. I am proud to say this is how we have attracted so many new Classic Distributors.

2. The second is equally important, Our Customer Service Philosophy. At just 15, I started working for Nordstorms as a stock boy. You may not all be familiar with Nordstroms. It’s a department store chain, based in Seattle, that has locations in many major U.S. cities. The renowned Nordstoms’ Customer Service Philosophy was impressed on me at a very early age. The Nordstroms Way, a book by Robert Spector and Patrick McCarthy, quotes James Nordstroms, prior to his death in 1996, telling his eventual successors, “Continue to think long-term. If we give a better value today, five years from today we will be a better company.” It sounds easy enough, and it is, if you view service “as an act of faith!” I encourage you to read the book and discover what I learned by working at this remarkable company.

These are just two of the Value Propositions at Classic. I plan to explore others in in the weeks ahead. Are these two set in stone? Yes . . . but others are not. As a company and as a team, we need to be flexible to meet the needs of our customers.

How about you? What are the core attributes that create your Value Proposition? Excluding things like your stunning good looks, great sense of humor, and expense account, why do customers do business with you? I look forward to hearing from you.

Be Well!

–Kevin Carty

Word on the Street — June 15th thru June 19th

June 19th, 2009 COMMENTS
Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

This week started with a call from a Classic Exhibits distributor regarding an existing quote that needed to be re-addressed. The week finished by reviewing client notes from a distributor on a project quoted several days ago.

Both the phone call on Monday and the email from this morning (as well as a conversation on Wednesday) involved the buzz word “Value Engineering.”

How many of you just cringed? : – )

So I went to Google to see the current definition of Value Engineering, and the two highest results were from Wikipedia and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

 Wikipedia says . . .

Value engineering (VE) is a systematic method to improve the “value” of goods or products and services by using an examination of function. Value, as defined, is the ratio of function to cost. Value can therefore be increased by either improving the function or reducing the cost. It is a primary tenet of value engineering that basic functions be preserved and not be reduced as a consequence of pursuing value improvements.

The US Army Corps of Engineers says . . .

Value Engineering is defined as “an analysis of the functions of a program, project, system, product, item of equipment, building, facility, service, or supply of an executive agency, performed by qualified agency or contractor personnel, directed at improving performance, reliability, quality, safety, and life cycle costs.” 

As it relates to the two projects mentioned earlier, it would appear that the clients (endusers) want a blend of the two definitions. From an aesthetic and functional standpoint, they want exactly what the Distributor and Classic Exhibits designed — but for less money.


What to Do When Business is Slow!

June 18th, 2009 COMMENTS
Bee Positive

Bee Positive

I have come to grips with the fact that the trade show industry isn’t going to grow by 20 percent in 2009. The joke has become that “flat” is the new growth! So what should we do when times are slow? Should we use this time to work on our golf game? Take every Friday and Monday off from May through August? Let your staff go home early so if somebody calls there is no one to answer the phone? An emphatic  “NO!” to all of the above.

Times like this call for an abundance of common sense. This is the opportune time to get to know your customers better and to build relationships. Why now? Because business is slow all over America. Use this time to get in the car and go visit your customers with mid-morning bagels or mid-afternoon ice cream snacks. Your customer’s business is off just like yours, so they aren’t expecting 5-Star dinners and three martini lunches. Set the stage for the next buying season by staying in touch and in tune with your top clients. 

What do I do? I spend my days talking to our customers about Sacagawea Portable Hybrids  and Magellan MOR, our new price point hybrid displays. Sales are tough, but our customers still expect high design but at portable prices. If you expect to remain competitive and relevant, you either throw up your hands or you adapt to the market.

Why not use your time to educate your clients about your company’s products and services or simply have more “heart-to-heart” conversations with them?You both learn. Unfortunately in the midst of slow business, sometimes the “just get it done” philosophy takes precedent and the “good enough” mentality rears its ugly head.

Two things come to mind when I hear that:

  • First of all – Good enough is neither good . . . nor enough!
  • Second – You have just allowed your competition the opportunity unseat you.

Those types of things can be the death of many businesses. Apathy is a cancer in these economic times. Keep an upbeat tone in your voice, be happy, and believe that you are doing the right things to help the future even if the present is not what you want

To quote the South African golfer Gary Player, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Well get out there today and build your luck for tomorrow!

As the tail wags,

–Reid Sherwood