Trade Show TalesBlog

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

February 21st, 2010 1 COMMENT
Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Most Companies Fall Into One of Three Camps

Have you ever noticed that most companies fall into one of three camps when it comes to change?

  • They never change.
  • They make constant incremental changes (they tinker).
  • They make big changes every year or two or three (the grand gesture), but generally stay pat until then.

Now I need your perspective here. I see Classic Exhibits as falling in the second camp. We are constantly making small changes to our products, our services, and our marketing. Little by little, we move the bar forward. Occasionally, we have a big announcement, but those, quite honestly, don’t happen very often. For example, the introduction of the Perfect 10 Portable Hybrid was a big deal when we introduced it almost two years ago. It took portable hybrid design into a dramatically new direction. Our other line introductions have had less fanfare, such as Magellan and Sacagawea, but have been equally successful. If you spend any time following P5D, you see a constant stream of orders for Magellan, P10/20, Sacagawea, along with the ever changing array of counters, pedestals, and workstations.

people_changeWe have a slight advantage (or disadvantage) over our competitors in how we communicate changes. We take a slow, steady, and subtle approach, rather than make big announcements. We show you new designs in Design Monday, such as the PS Series in Design Monday this week and last. We send an e-broadcast about a design or product launch, but that happens three or four times a year at most. We update P5D every business day. Once or twice a month, we post a blog related to product changes. But, because so many of our changes are incremental and are introduced “casually,” I worry that we don’t get credit for them.

So, I’m going to take a moment to list some of these changes over the past nine months. How many do you recognize?

  • Sacagawea T, P, and PS Series.
  • Updated Exhibit Design Search User Interface and Features
  • New Base Plate Designs
  • Knob Assembly for Magellan and Sacagawea (backwall)
  • Upgraded Lighting for All Portable Hybrid Lines
  • Silicone Edge Graphic Designs and SEG ClassicMODUL TSP Extrusions
  • Expanded Rental Inventory
  • Addition of Eco-systems Sustainable and Optima Graphics products in Exhibit Design Search
  • Expand Use of Reusable Dye-cut Foam Jigging on All Hybrid Products
  • New Look to the Classic Exhibits Website (just happened this week)

I suppose our approach reflects our corporate personality. We are by nature “tinkerers and doers.”  When we see a challenge or an unmet opportunity we gravitate to it like a moth to a light bulb. That approach permeates our culture whether it’s in Production, Project Management, Design, Marketing, or Accounting. Obviously, we have to prioritize opportunities, but these opportunities tend to energize us since they represent something to “fix” or “improve” or “reinvent.”

change_classicPlease don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that “Big Announcements” are ineffective. Too often however, we see big announcements in our industry that are, in all honesty, incremental improvements. Or, even worse, are announcements that should have been made two years ago when they were relevant or on the cutting edge. Instead they are just sad and pathetic.

For companies in the other two camps . . . think about the message you are (or are NOT) sending to your customers. Companies that NEVER change appear stagnant or worse irrelevant in the market. Whether that is a fair statement or not, it’s the perception and perception matters. And for those who opt for BIG announcements every couple of years, why would you expect your customers to wait?

In my opinion, clients left “waiting and wanting” start to stray. I can’t tell you how many times I have conducted a presentation with a potential distributor and within 10 minutes the owner, designer, or AE will say, “Man did you ever arrive at just the right time. We have been looking for something like this or asking for something just like this from our existing vendor for the past year . . . and you have it right here. Perfect!”

As one of the faces of Classic Exhibits, I love getting that “WOW” reaction, but I also appreciate knowing that week after week and month after month, it shows that we are reacting to the market and making changes. Those changes rarely make it into press releases in EXHIBITOR or the other trade magazines, but that’s OK.  What’s important is that you know that we are constantly tinkering.

Which camp do you fall in? How about your current vendors? We would love to hear from you about how we can improve our communication with you.

Click on the comment link and share your thoughts.

–Kevin Carty

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One Response to “Word on the Street — February 15th thru February 19th”

  1. This post is one that I’ve never seen addressed, but as soon as I read it, realized that Kevin has hit the nail on the head (he’s also put a mirror before many of our faces!)

    It’s true; most companies don’t do much of anything as a change each years. For all the wrong reasons, they come back to the same shows with the same presentation and then expect different results. Then, complain to the exhibit promoters that “the shows are no-good and a waste of time and money”

    When you are “committed to improvements/excellence” like Kevin described, you’re at least in motion and customers are attracted like magnets to movement and momentum. IF nothing more, it sure beats the BOREDOM of showing up with the same-old, same-old!

    Great job on this post Kevin. It’s something we’ve all overlooked; but very important to be aware of.

    I’ll look forward to seeing your “improvements” on display at Exhibitor Show in a few weeks before my teaching session. I’ll see how many from your list I can pick out

    Steve Underation, CTSM
    Certified Trade Show Marketer

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