Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for May, 2012

Sacagawea Video from Evo Exhibits

May 31st, 2012 COMMENTS

Kevin Fett, one of the owners of Evo Exhibits in Chicago, passed along this video of the Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Display. We liked it so much, we wanted to give you a chance to see it too. It’s a good mix of time lapse assembly and a soft sales pitch on the features and benefits of this portable system.

According to Kevin, “Thought I’d share a video of Susan Johnson putting up a Sacagawea in time lapse.  Susan is 5’0″ — so we thought it would be cool to see her put one up by herself.”

Well done Kevin, Susan, and the entire Evo Exhibits team. Enjoy everyone!

— Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, 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

Happy Memorial Day: Word on the Street — May 21st thru May 25th

May 27th, 2012 COMMENTS
Happy Memorial Day

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

While we are all enjoying a long weekend, I hope that we do not forget the reason behind Memorial Day:  Remembering those who have served and/or lost their lives serving our country.

I was never a member of any of our armed forces, but many of my friends and family were. I am always impressed by the courage of those men and women who chose to serve in the military. Selflessness and courage are the words that come to mind.

Sometimes you hear that people enter because they felt they needed some direction or they needed to earn money for college or they wanted to gain some discipline, but at the end of the day, those are merely the results of the decision they made. Ultimately, the decision takes a level of courage that I am pretty sure I don’t have nor ever had to be frank.

Like me, I know many of you have had loved ones and friends serve in our military forces. So please join me this weekend in thanking them for their service and courage on behalf of us and our great country.

Billy Graham once said, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” I love how true that is. We are certainly the greatest nation in the world and with it comes a sense of confidence, a stiffening of the spine one might say. One part of the reason we have that is because of the protection and service of those in uniform.

Thank you!

Be well and have a great weekend. We look forward to hearing from you and answering any of your questions on Tuesday.

–Kevin Carty

How to Win a Gold Medal at Your Next Trade Show

May 21st, 2012 COMMENTS

Stand on the Podium

Yeah for Me!

The Sochi Winter Olympics is just around the corner. We love watching the competition — who wins, who loses, and the  inspiring stories about athletes who participate but do not win a gold, a silver, or a bronze medal. Athletes want to win, even if they know it’s a long shot, so they plan, prepare, and train for a chance to stand on the podium. No one prepares for the Olympics just to win a participation trophy.

Trade shows are no different. For anyone new to trade show marketing, here’s an important tip no one’s ever going to share with you (except me). You can waste LOTS and LOTS of MONEY participating in trade shows if you don’t know what you’re doing. I don’t care how smart you are. You are going to make mistakes. Lots of them, but the key is to minimize them from the get-go. The trick — learn from the folks who have already made those mistakes and who have stubbed their toe(s) more times than they want to be reminded.

Here’s what they’ll tell you.

#1. What’s Your Goal. Why are you participating in a trade show? To build the brand, increase sales, meet new customers, find new markets. All are legitimate reasons to exhibit at a show. Bad reasons . . . Going on a whim, because it sounds like a good idea, or because your dog Rex tells you to go (What a bad boy!). Without a goal you have no way of measuring your success. Get a goal. Write it down and share it with your team. Then and only then should you consider trade show marketing.

#2. What’s Your Budget. If you say, I don’t know then fold up your tent and go home. The number doesn’t matter, except as a baseline for what you can and can’t do. It’s all relative. $10,000 will get you one thing . . . . $250,000 will get you something else.

Visionary Designs VK-1319

#3. Do Some Preliminary Research. It’s easy. It’s called Google. Is it going to confuse you? Hell yes. You’ll see stupid numbers like $79 for a banner stand and $1.5 million for a custom exhibit. Imagine walking into a new car lot not having seen or driven a car before. You need a point of reference, but you don’t need to be an expert. That’s impossible. You just need to get a sense of what’s on the market and how much displays cost. That’s it.

#4. Work with a Seasoned Exhibit Professional. Why? Why not! I’ve never met anyone in this business who wants a customer to buy the wrong display. You’ve got a budget, right? That will narrow the choices. During the initial meetings, an exhibit consultant will spend more time talking to you about your goals, your message, and your shows than they will about what display to buy. The display is important, but it’s simply a tool. They want you to succeed. Then you’ll come back and buy more. Yippee! It’s a win-win.

#5 What Shows. Now you may already know which show(s) you must attend. Every industry has a trade show. That’s the first step but hardly the only step. Are their other shows you should attend because you want to expand into other markets? How about local shows where all you need is a table top display or a pop up. Ask your vendors which shows they attend. Or use one of many online tools like the Or, here’s a thought — ask your exhibit professional to assist you.

#6. Plan, Plan, Plan. I know. It’s boring. But, apart from identifying your trade show marketing goals, nothing is more important. You need to put in the work. You need to complete the required paperwork on time. You need to conduct pre-show marketing to get potential clients to your booth. You need to create a project list and check and double-check every last detail. You’ve heard it a million times, but this time it’s true:   Fail to plan, then plan to fail. Planning makes the difference between pouring money down a rat-hole and complaining that trade shows don’t work and becoming the next CEO of your company. Well, that may be a little exaggeration (but not much).

#7. Who’s Going to the Show. Working the booth is neither a punishment nor a vacation. It’s a job. There’s no in-between. The folks who work the booth have to understand that. They must know the products and services, possess outstanding customer service skills, and be willing to meet clients before, during, and after the show. They must know the difference between entertaining clients and a felony. They must understand the distinction between social drinking and detox. If they don’t, no matter how charming they are, leave them home.

#8 Train Them. Yes, train them. Before the show, meet with your team and review the goals, the schedule, and the products


and services. Who handles which product line? Who’s the expert on specific services? Who greets clients as they enter the booth? How do you plan to handle leads? Are there meetings and presentations in the booth space? Who cleans in the morning? Who cleans in the evening? How do you handle competitors who enter your booth? There’s a lot of questions and situations that can happen during a one to three day trade show. Do not leave them to chance!

#9. Leads. Treat them like a credit card. You never know if the limit is $500 or if you found an American Express Platinum with no limit. There are really three keys to managing leads. First, qualify the lead and take lots and lots of notes. You may think you have an eidetic memory, but trust me, unless you are Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, you don’t. All the details you capture only increase your odds exponentially of making a sale. Knowledge is power on the trade show floor. Second, review the leads with the team at the end of the day. Don’t leave the booth and head for the bar UNTIL you’ve reviewed every single lead. Those that need immediate action should be handed to the right person that day. Third, they are sales leads, not confetti. Too many companies treat them like scraps of paper which can be tossed at the end of the show. How you treat leads tells the potential customer everything about your company.

#10. Post-show Analysis.   All too often, when the show is over, the show is over until next year. Big mistake. We learn from our successes and our failures. The trade show team should conduct a “post-show” review within a week. These ideas need to be captured and recorded so the lessons learned can be implemented at the next show. Even better, meet with your trade show consultant as well. He/she can offer advice based on their experience with other clients and show you how you can improve your trade show marketing and save money.

Don’t be shy. Put in the effort and plan ahead and you will be standing on the podium wearing a little gold.

— Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, 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

Office Honey-Do’s: Word on the Street — May 14th thru May 18th

May 20th, 2012 COMMENTS
Office Honey-Do's:

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Getting it Done in 75 Days (or Less)

It’s that time of year –mid-May– when at home or at the office, you find yourself tackling projects that have been accumulating in that “to-do” list. You know the ones! They start accumulating in mid-January when it’s too cold, but (we tell ourselves) we’ll get to them when we have a little more time.

In our business, this is the time of year when we start addressing and completing many of those projects. We do a lot of product development, strategizing, and investigative purchasing this time of year, but we also address nagging tasks and or ideas that have gone unattended. Our projects are comparable to that deck you mentioned to your wife back in January. Remember . . . the one you said you would build once the weather was better in June.

This year is no different, but sales this May are staying stronger than normal. But even at that, we are pressing forward with side projects and general clean-up. Without boring you with the laundry list, let’s just say it includes everything from re-organizing the racks, painting, rotating inventory, working with the local power company on new energy efficient plans, and renovating restrooms in the building. We’re even building in a shower for those employees who bike or run to work.

In June and July when sales are slowing, these projects allow us to keep our crew busy during months that otherwise they would be working shorter schedules. Even at that, we still have to plan around the heavy summer vacation schedules.

We are also working on re-addressing graphic dimension templates, refining our already stellar set-up instructions, and preparing for several new staff positions. You’ll hear more about these new positions in the next month, all of which will set the foundation for better customer service and additional services.

I wish we could enjoy the downtime a bit more, but I really appreciate the drive, diligence, and dedication of our entire staff to capitalize on these times. Ultimately it makes our lives easier when we are going 100 mph in August.

So, what are you doing this summer to make your business stronger this fall? What projects make the top of your office “Honey-Do” lists?

Be well and have a great week ahead.

–Kevin Carty

SKU & You: Word on the Street

May 13th, 2012 COMMENTS
Shared Knowledge University & You

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Shared Knowledge University & You

About this time of year, we normally send the Classic Distributor Network a survey with 15-18 questions. Not this time. We have cleared our schedule on June 12, 13, and 14 to connect with you. We’ll talk, we’ll listen, we’ll learn, and we’ll find answers together.

Join us on June 12, 13, and 14 for three days of sharing via Classic’s “SKU & You” sessions. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, you can participate in three (3) educational webinars, two (2) topic specific webinars, and two (2) one-on-one phone calls with Kevin Carty, Mel White, and Reid Sherwood. Choose the session(s) that target your interests and/or concerns.


1.  Knowledge Webinars (45-60 minutes) | 10 am – 11 am

  • Designer Design Tips for Sales-cessful Island Exhibits (Tuesday) —  Exhibit Designers: Erik Frost, Michael McCord, Mike Swartout, Katina Rigall, and Greg Garrett
    [Reserve Your Seat Now]
  • A Hybrid is a Hybrid is a Hybrid. Really? (Wednesday) – Mel White
    [Reserve Your Seat Now]
  • What’s All the Hub-Bub about Silicone Edge Graphics (Thursday) — Kevin Carty with a special guest from Optima Graphics
    [Reserve Your Seat Now]

2. Open Session Webinars with Kevin, Mel, and Reid Sherwood (45-75 minutes) | 11:30 am-12:45 pm

  • Open Chat  (Tuesday). What’s New in Design, People, and Trends. Join Us!
    [Register Now]
  • Open Chat  (Wednesday). Take Us to the Woodshed . . . What Did We Do Wrong/What Can We Do Better. Join Us!
    [Register Now]

3. One-on-One Phone Calls with Kevin and Mel

  • Two Hour Open Blocks on Tuesday and Thursday. We’ll be sitting by the phone waiting to answer your questions or just chat. First come. First serve. No tipping required.

Look for times and additional details later this month in LinkedIn, the Classic Exhibits blog, and e-broadcasts to the Classic email list.

Be well!

–Kevin Carty