Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for April, 2010

Shooting from the Hip — 1.10

April 29th, 2010 COMMENTS
Shooting from the Hip (trade show tips)

Shooting from the Hip

Starting this week, you will see a weekly blog posting from me, typically not more than a paragraph or two (or three). Look for it on Wednesday or Thursday.

I intend to write about the ups and downs (hopefully more ups) of our customers and share their success stories. Since failure is not an option, I won’t give credence (not Clearwater Revival) to anyone’s misfortune. And yes, there will be things blogged here that have no relevance to the exhibit industry. There will be travel tips. There will be hunting and fishing updates. But mostly, it will be about the trade show life we have chosen for our careers.

Interestingly enough, for late April almost May, there is a fair amount of business activity.  It seems like companies have neglected their trade show marketing long enough, and we’re seeing more orders and quotes. I am not talking about fantasyland 20 x 20 islands with a $4500 budget and a lot of backlit graphics. I am talking about 10 x 20 inlines with $35k budgets. Hugh Baldus from The Baldus Company actually closed one of those last week with a SIX WEEK LEAD TIME.  I’m hearing about an order for multiple Perfect 10 Displays. Portable hybrids being sung in any tune has a nice ring to it, and Scott Lindsay from The Lindsay Exhibit Group is singing that song. Conversations with distributors are happy for a change. It isn’t all doom and gloom.

The steelhead are still in the river.  The grouse are drumming in the evening.  Spring is in the air.  Until next week . . .

–Reid Sherwood

Word on the Street — April 19th thru April 23rd

April 25th, 2010 1 COMMENT

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

R & D:  Seven (Not so Simple) Steps

Just writing “Seven Steps” makes it sound so simple, like it has a defined start and finish. But if you do much of it, you know it’s a living, breathing thing that never really rests. To stay ahead, you have to constantly be thinking of innovative and practical designs for your customers (See Design Monday this week for example).

Coming off my last trip that living, breathing thing was full of life. This week was all about intensive R & D planning on a series of exciting products rolling out over the next nine months. More products in a compressed time frame than I can ever remember.

So, how do you approach R & D? What are some of the steps you take? For me, I try to keep it the same and maintain a process.

My basic steps are:

  1. Develop a basic idea with a trusted team of people and partners. These can be vendors, Classic Exhibits employees from various departments, customers, or all of the above.
  2. Put the concept to paper with a great design team. I like to utilize both internal and external designers and engineers for this step. It gives you the best shot at something truly unique and infuses it with several different design perspectives.
  3. Give the designs to a trusted group of builders/creators: our Production Engineer, shop guys, and project managers. 🙂
    They know how to transform the impractical into the practical and how to re-engineer the needlessly complex into the real world simple.
  4. Get input on the initial product demos from trusted industry partners and customers. This is the tire kicking step. Will it sell and does it function according to plan? Then send it on the road to see if it’s durable.
  5. Rework it after you receive feedback.
  6. Turn over the final product details to Marketing to make it pretty on paper and e-broadcasts.
  7. Release the product to the Distributor Network.

Visionary Designs VK-1017

Now as I re-read those Seven Steps, it seems too simple, and we all know it’s not. More than anything, if you take the time to ask for input from a trusted team inside your own building and a trusted team inside your industry network, you give yourself the best chance at success. But even with all that, sometimes products never really take off  . . . or at least take a long time to take off. Look at the Visionary Designs VK-1017 for example. We spent a long time developing that kit, and it was just one kit. After we released it, it did nothing for nearly two years. Yet, when we were developing it, we were convinced that it would be a home run.

That was over three years ago. Now it sells quite well and is a very popular kit. So you never know what will be an immediate hit, what will fail, and what will take months or years to find an audience.

Take the Perfect 10 — a great example of a product line where we followed all Seven Steps to a “T.” And once released, it clicked conceptually. People loved it! Loved the design . . . loved the price . . . loved the packaging . . . loved it all.

In the end, I will always follow the Seven Steps, even though they are not so simple. I believe it gives us the best chance at success as we develop new products and designs.

How about you? What are your thoughts about Research and Development in our industry? Please comment.

Be well and have a safe and restful weekend.

–Kevin Carty

Kit Changes to Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Displays

April 21st, 2010 COMMENTS
Sacagawea VK-1236 Portable Hybrid Display

PS Series (VK-1236)

You asked . . . and we responded.

Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Displays now include ALL tension fabric and direct print graphics in the kit price. Updated kit and retail price list sheets are available in the Distributor Section of Classic’s website.  The checklist sheets have also been updated to include the new PS Series designs.

Perfect 10 and Magellan (MOR and Miracle) Hybrid Displays should be completed within the next three weeks. Please contact a Classic Exhibits Project Manager if you have any questions.

Word on the Street — April 12th thru April 16th

April 18th, 2010 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

“On the Road Again”!

I hope last week was a great one for you! It certainly was for me. I was on the road visiting customers and partners. I also met with several “future” partners.

Here are some of the things I learned that continue to give me hope for the state of the trade show industry.

#1 — Sales are increasing everywhere.

Mostly inline displays but A LOT OF THEM. I received many positive comments about the Classic Hybrid lines such as Perfect 10, Magellan, and Sacagawea. Distributors appreciate the design differences they see in our lines.

#2 — The outlook, while still tenuous, is looking brighter.

Our crystal ball shows that sales are increasing, which is what we all want. There’s more chatter about ordering new displays and attending shows.

#3 — Smaller island designs are coming back. This fall looks good in that regard.

Mainly 20 x 20 and 20 x 30 hybrids, but with good budgets. Yippee!

#4 — New product development at Classic is in full swing.

Expect some unique product designs from Classic in Q3. We’re keeping it under wraps for now, but I promise you they will be truly different.

#5 —  Our partnerships are stronger than ever.

I am anticipating a big announcement as it relates to ClassicMODUL sometime in the next six months. But again, I’ll just tease you with that for now.

Everyone during my trip seemed to agree that May, June and July are “wait and see” months. There’s a great deal of optimism right now, and from the look of things, we expect the normal summer doldrums to be healthier this year.

So . . . to those I visited, had nice meals with, had productive meetings with, played games with at Dave and Busters, and planned the future with . . . thanks so very much for making my week enjoyable and productive.

Be well and have a safe and restful weekend. Let me know what you are hearing and seeing in your market.

–Kevin Carty

Polarized Artwork on an Inline Hybrid Display

April 12th, 2010 COMMENTS

One of the luxuries of working in the trade show business, particularly as a manufacturer, is seeing so many creative displays and graphics. Not a day goes by that we don’t witness something impressive. But there are those days when we see something truly spectacular.

The images shown in these photos and video were designed by Austine Studios for Maui Jim Sunglasses. The Classic Exhibits distributor was Chris Chase at Everything Tradeshows. When you first glance at this Visionary Designs exhibit, the backlit graphics are dull and obscured, but put on a pair of polarized glasses, in this case Maui Jim sunglasses, and the images are instantly transformed into a vibrant, tropical mosaic. It’s AMAZING! See for yourself . . .

Without Polarized Glasses

With Polar

With Polarized Glasses

–Mel White Classic Exhibits Network (LinkedIn)