Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for October, 2012

10 Things Zombies Can Teach Us About Tradeshow Marketing

October 30th, 2012 COMMENTS

10 Things Zombies Can Teach Us about Tradeshow MarketingSeveral weeks ago, Tim Patterson at Tradeshow Guy Blog wrote the blog post, 4 Ways to Avoid Tradeshow Exhibiting Zombies. His excellent article inspired me to write a companion post.

Who would have thought that zombies could be a role model for your sales and marketing team?

10 Things Zombies Can Teach Us About Trade Show Marketing

1. Single-minded Focus. You may not appreciate their all-consuming desire to eat your flesh, but they are committed to the task. They let nothing get in their way, except an ax to the brain. Your next trade show will be wildly successful, if you make it a priority, not an afterthought.

2. Teamwork. Zombies travel in packs. That teamwork ensures them a much higher percentage of kills. There’s a reason “We killed it” signifies success. By working together, those poor doe-eyed attendees don’t stand a chance.

3. Appearance Matters. You never forget your first encounter with a zombie: filthy clothing, greasy/unkempt hair, vacuous stare, and rancid halitosis (that alone is enough to make you hurl). It’s sad but true. We judge people by their appearance. Your company spent considerable money to participate so shine your shoes, press your shirt, and dry clean that blazer.

4. Lights, Motion, and Noise. The undead and the living are both attracted to lights, motion, and noise. As much as we try . . . we can’t resist it. When planning your booth, ask yourself this, “Will my exhibit attract 200% more zombies than my competitors?” If the answer is “No!” then you need to get creative (or consider a ceremonious human sacrifice ever day).

5. Intelligence. Zombies love brains and so should you. Being smart about your trade show marketing means you understand that trade shows are not the same as print ads, videos, brochures, or traditional sales calls. Trade shows are opportunities to attract new customers and strengthen existing relationships. 

6. Fresh Meat. Ever notice that zombies won’t eat other zombies. They like their meals fresh. Fresh ideas and innovation, particularly during a weak economy, propel one company forward while leaving another one struggling to survive. Trade show attendees go for two reasons:  to find solutions to existing problems and/or discover innovations that will strengthen their operations or bottom line.

7. Know Your Customer. In zombie-speak, we are customers. Good customers freak-out and get eaten. Bad customers ram a metal rod through a zombie’s skull. You want good customers, just without the “getting eaten” part. Good customers become good customers because we understand them and tailor our product or service to meet their needs.

8. Preparation Matters. Zombies don’t need a trade show toolkit or an exhibitors handbook or an exhibit designer. They are 100% prepared the moment they go from living to undead. You’re not so lucky. You won’t succeed without thorough pre-show, show, and post-show preparation.

9. Without Customers, What’s the Point? Wandering aimlessly is pointless, even to a mindless zombie. Zombies crave excitement. When a living, breathing human enters its proximity, a zombie switches from listless to high alert. Serious exhibitors react similarly, albeit without the growling and moaning. We’ve all seen exhibitors who appear annoyed or resentful when an attendee enters their booth, interrupting their game of Angry Birds. What’s the point if it’s not about customers?

10. There’s No Cure. Once a zombie always a zombie. If you love trade shows and are serious about trade show marketing, there’s no antidote. It’s in your blood. No matter how hard you fight it, once bitten, it’s incurable.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). 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.



Back from the Randy Smith Golf Classic: Word on the Street — Oct. 22nd thru Oct. 26th

October 26th, 2012 1 COMMENT
Back from the Randy Smith Golf Classic: Word on the Street -- Oct. 22nd thru Oct. 26th

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic
Guest Post by Jim Shelman

I just returned home from the Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic in Atlanta, an event presented by EDPA and E2MA. As many of you know, Kevin has been attending this event for many years. This was my third trip, and this year I filled in for Kevin who couldn’t attend. I golfed with Reid Sherwood, Cindi Cody, and Bill Glasser, and we had a great time.

It’s difficult to put into words just how important this event is to our industry, and how much it means to the recipients that benefit from it. It’s always fun to get together with friends, customers, and suppliers. And the golf couldn’t have been better with the incredible weather we had. And to witness Reid Sherwood putting an 80 and 40 foot putt for two eagles was amazing! It will be interesting to hear Reid tell the story. We’ll see if the 80 footer turns into 120, and if the 40 footer turns into 75, but regardless, they were incredible putts, and highlights of our round.

The fun, however, is no match for the feeling that comes from being a part of something so meaningful. This event proves that there really is such a thing as friendly competition. We all come together as one family with one common goal:  to help the people within our industry who have suffered severe tragedies or face insurmountable medical expenses. These are people just like us that are sitting in an office next door, or working in the shop or the warehouse, or on the show floor–that are suddenly hit with tragic, life-changing circumstances in their lives.


Picture 1 of 3

Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic 2012

The banquet that is held after the golf tournament is truly touching as you listen to heart-wrenching stories from the recipients. Stories that are unimaginable to a lot of us, and way too close to home for others.

It’s a sobering reminder that life throws unexpected curves at us, and that our circumstances can change in an instant.

I can’t speak for others who attended this year, or for those who attended in the past, but I can tell you that when I arrived back home in Portland, I was more thankful than ever to to hug my healthy wife and four year old daughter, and to know that they’re okay. Unfortunately, we have people in our industry (our family) who can’t say that. All of us here at Classic know this too well. Our Director of Design, Mike Swartout, who was a recipient at last year’s Randy Smith, is battling Stage 4 prostate cancer.

I’d like to say a special thank you to Rich Johnson and all of the volunteers for their incredible commitment and work with this tournament every year!

The tournament is a lot of fun, and worth the trip in itself. But the real gratification comes from being a part of something that means so much to the recipients who know and appreciate so deeply that we’re helping to support them during their time of hardship and tragedy in their lives.

If you haven’t attended, please consider it for next year.  You’ll be glad you did.

Jim Shelman
General Manger, Exhibits Northwest/Classic Rentals


Randy Smith, Jim Shelman, and Cindi Cody

October 26th, 2012 COMMENTS
Shooting from the Hip (trade show tips)

Shooting from the Hip by Reid Sherwood

Randy Smith

I have been in Atlanta the past few days seeing distributors and playing in The Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic. I am going to double up on this and talk a bit about both.

A few weeks ago, Rich Johnson (one of the founders of the RSMGC) asked me if I would serve on the board of The Randy Smith. Obviously I accepted. I have been a loyal fan and supporter for 11 years. The Randy is a non-political group of industry folks who provide emotional and financial support to other industry people who have fallen on difficult times.

It is the one day all year (and maybe the night before) where competitors lay down their swords and come together to raise money and help people. And this year was no exception. There were eight recipients. Every year I’m reminded of the same thing:  no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how bad you have it, there is always someone who has it far worse.

One of the recipients was the Mark Tate family. Mark and his wife have two daughters, age 13 and 10. They have both been impacted with life-threatening disease. Olivia (the 10 year old) was diagnosed with brain cancer at 2 years of age and has had numerous surgeries and treatments. Thank God she has been in remission for the past 4 years. Her sister, Elena, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 and has had chemo and was in remission until recently. She had bone marrow transplant this past July and continues to receive treatments.

Again, just when you think times are tough, you hear a story like this and realize that all in all, your life is pretty good.

Thank you to everyone who participated as golfers, volunteers, and sponsors. Without you, it would not be possible. And personally I would like to thank Rich and Ted Peterson for keeping this alive for 18 years

Personally, I would like to thank my team from the Randy this year. Bill Glasser from Exhibit Concepts, Cindi Cody from Xzibits, and Classic’s own Jim Shelman from Exhibits Northwest.

Jim Shelman

This was the first time I spent time with Jim without other Classic employees in the mix. He is a great guy, but he has his quirks. The day before the tournament, I had a couple of early appointments, but Jim and I were planning to play a round later that day.

I pick Jim up to go to the course, and he is complaining. Well, not really complaining, maybe whining and visibly distraught. All this because the place we were staying didn’t have the right coffee. Trying to be the nice guy, I hurry along, so we get to a gas station where he can get some coffee. It isn’t good enough — the pot is too empty and it is probably burned. Now he is borderline quivering. I am not a coffee drinker so I really don’t understand, but I try to be a good team player. We move on and he says, “Pull into McDonalds. They have good coffee.” I pull in and roll the window down and am ready to order, thinking to myself how glad I am that I am not a coffee drinker who needs that “caffeine boost” to get through the day. So he says, “Get me a Decaf!” REALLY??? But it all made sense later that evening when I saw him drinking a O’Doul’s beer.

Cindi Cody

On another note, I did a trade show with one of our Atlanta distributors, Xzibits, and it was a huge success. Cindi Cody and her crew had an attractive 10 foot exhibit. The six hour show offered up almost 30 leads. One little tidbit of information. Cindi posted on her Facebook page that they were at the show. Instantly, a new start-up company wrote back saying that they couldn’t attend but made an appointment for later this week.

I’m always interested in what customers are looking for in this economy. Many are still looking at banner stands, but many are saying it is time to step up. No more pop ups. That puts Magellan, Sacagewea, and Perfect 10 in position to answer that call. I do have to pay a tribute to Optima Graphics and Xpressions. The show I was at was a business to business show. There were about 60 exhibitors in all. But out of 60 distributors, there were six Xpressions displays. That is an incredible number.

That’s all for now. I’m headed home in a couple of days. These ten day trips make me miss my family more than usual, so I am looking forward to Tuesday evening.

Till the next time,

Reid Sherwood


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). 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.


EDPA ACCESS 2012 in Palm Springs, CA

October 26th, 2012 COMMENTS

EDPA ACCESS: Complete Program Released 

The 58th Annual EDPA ACCESS conference full agenda has been released! Join your peers at the only executive conference for designers, builders and suppliers of exhibits and experiences for three days of learning, networking and growth.

This year’s agenda includes an exciting line-up of speakers and presenters who will be bringing you up-to date topics, the latest trends and best practices for evolving and growing your business in the exhibition and experience industry.

Three different tracks at this year’s conference are action packed with great content! The International Track will focus on France, this year’s featured country, while ‘Down to Business’ and ‘Connect and Create’ will keep you current on best practices and growth opportunities in 2013!

In addition to top-notch sessions, we will also be bringing some great networking opportunities! Make the most out of your experience at ACCESS 2012 by meeting your peers at the many events and receptions that we have planned.

CLICK HERE to see the full program.

CLICK HERE to see the Agenda-at-a-Glance.


Town Call | November 8 | Reserve Your Seat!

October 25th, 2012 COMMENTS

Classic Exhibits Distributors

Register NOW and reserve your seat for the quarterly Town Call Webinar on Thursday, November 8. Kevin, Reid, Jen, Jim, and Mel will provide a snapshot of industry trends, upcoming events, and all things Classic Exhibits. It’s your chance to grill us on what’s new, what’s different, and what’s the what. Don’t miss it . . . It’s like watching five monkeys at the zoo speak English.

It’s only an hour . . . it’s only once a quarter . . . so join us for this community gathering of peers.

Topics include:

  • iPad Kiosk Trends
  • Rental Designs
  • The World’s Fastest 3 Minute Review of Exhibit Design Search
  • Our 2013 Predictions
  • How the Newaygo Football team did in the Michigan state playoffs
  • What we learned by simply paying attention
  • EDPA Access, EXHIBITOR 2013, and much more


–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). 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.