Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for October, 2013

If Puppies Ran Trade Shows and Events

October 31st, 2013 10 COMMENTS

Two months ago, I wrote “If Kittens Ran Trade Shows and Events.” It was meant to be lighthearted and playful. Looking back, I was naive, so naive. The puppy and dog lovers sent me emails within hours. They felt slighted. Why would kittens be better representatives of tradeshows and events than a cute Pekingese, a Beagle, or a Retriever? How could anyone presume to think that kittens were more “tradeshow-ish” than Muffin or Bandit or Killer? Wow! So, in the interest of fairness (and my personal safety) . . .

11 Reasons Why Our Lives Would be Better

No one would be a stranger.

Good behavior would be expected.

You would do whatever it takes to draw a crowd.

Good customers could expect loyalty and gratitude.

Competitors would be discouraged.

Children would be welcome at tradeshows and events.

Mistakes would happen but it would be OK.

For excellent service, just say my name. PLEASE SAY MY NAME!!!!

There would be fresh water and treats in every aisle.

Difficult customers would never be a problem.

AND . . . A pat on the head would make EVERYTHING BETTER.

Please add your own reasons in the Comments Section. And to the ferret, goldfish, and lizard owners, you’re on your own. I’m done. 😉

–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


Autumn at Classic Exhibits | Minus the Fall: Word on the Street — October 21st thru October 25th

October 27th, 2013 COMMENTS
Autumn at Classic Exhibits | Everything But Fall

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

As we roll into the last week of October, I wanted to update you on Classic Exhibits and its Family of Companies.

Strong Sales

We are heading into November with more momentum than ever.  After a summer that was, well let’s be honest, unpredictable at best, our September and October numbers have been very encouraging. Thanks to you!

The projects are not only larger, but also more dynamic than ever before. Design is truly driving the ship. And while people are still budget conscious, it’s clear their budgets are more and more forgiving once presented with THE DESIGN that really meets their needs

Internally, our Design Department is all a buzz. As you may remember, we welcomed Katrina (Trina) Broten back in the middle of June as a Design Intern. Well, she is an intern no longer. We are fortunate to call her a full-time Associate Designer now, and we could not be more proud. Trina is not only a great and upcoming Designer in this industry, but also a perfect personality fit for Classic.

Those of you who have worked with her already know what I mean. She has a strong future in our industry. We are very proud to have her join the Classic Family.

iPad Air

Granted, I am some what of an Apple Honk, so I won’t comment on the recent Apple Announcements and New Product Releases. But as many of you may have noticed, the new iPad Air is coming soon, and with it come new dimensions. Many of you called this week worried about how the new dimensions will affect the iPad tablet kiosks that Classic has become synonymous with. Well not to worry. We had advanced warning on the new product developments. The existing clamshells will fit the Air just fine, but we will have an even better solution once the new new iPad Air tablets are available.

Annual Classic Exhibits BBQ

Albeit a bit later in the year than normal, due to being busy quite frankly, we held our Annual BBQ/Potluck on Friday October 25. It was very yummy! Steaks, burgers,  and more desserts than anyone should ever digest in one sitting. Thanks to our entire team for bringing their favorite dishes.

I had a blast at the grill. Don’t believe the rumors about the fire chief having to be called. But I will say, I hope the hair on my arms grows back sometime. My eyebrows . . . we’ll that’s another story. 🙂

Moving into November

Not wanting to jinx November, but boy oh boy I think we are heading for our largest November ever. The projects on the slate so far are some real beauties. Many highlight capabilities of our amazing production staff. Large Island units seem to be the driver for the remainder of the year, something that speaks well to the value many of our distributors, large and small, are experiencing in their relationship with Classic Exhibits. I am looking forward to showing you what is coming down the pike as they are built — and selfishly showing you that creating a “direct sales” channel (or a hidden one with commissions) is not the only alternative for a manufacturer seeking to increase its sales volume. Unlike some of our competitors.

Be well this weekend. Enjoy those families. And Go DUCKS! 🙂




We Need Your Help with a Testimonial

October 22nd, 2013 7 COMMENTS

We need your help. And it will only take a few minutes.

Every year at EDPA ACCESS, the annual conference and showcase, there’s an award program. One of those awards is the EDDIE Award, the only one open to submissions from both EDPA members and non-members.


“The EDDIE Award is an award judged solely on the self-promotion of your company not on the promotion of a client.”

Here’s where you can help. We plan to submit Exhibit Design Search (EDS) for the award. We’ve written the submission but would like to enhance it with your testimonials. If you believe, as we do, that Exhibit Design Search has benefited your company and benefited Classic Exhibits, we would love to include your heartfelt testimonial. Nothing long . . . 3-4 sentences would be terrific.

Now, if you read the guidelines above, EDS may not at first glance seem to fit. After all, Classic Exhibits brands EDS for each distributor. You’re our client and it’s for your benefit. But let’s not kid ourselves. We brand it for our benefit as well, since we want your business to flow our direction. So, while it may not be “self-promotion” in the “See Me, See Me” sense, it’s still self-promotion.

If you are not shy, use the Comments section of the blog. If you are shy, send your testimonial to Mel White ( — October 31 deadline. We have to submit it by Nov. 4.

Thank you very much! We sincerely appreciate it.

–Mel White

Exhibit Designs that Sell — Every. Single. Time.

October 19th, 2013 5 COMMENTS

Katina Rigall, Designer

Hey all, Katina the Designer here! I have a couple of special topics to share with you.


Classic Exhibits is now on Instagram. Please follow us, classic_exhibits, and you will see snapshots of fun items in our shop, blackmail-worthy pics of Kevin and Mel, and some great design ideas! This will be different than our Facebook page or Pinterest account because I am in charge, and everything will be coming from a designer’s perspective. Should be fun!

Designs that Sell

I am often asked to design custom booths, and the #1 requirement I hear is — “Make a design that will SELL!” OK, usually that is a non-verbal request, but it really is the point of what we are doing here, isn’t it? So I’d like to share with you one tip that is tried and true, that has had a nearly 100% success rate for turning a job prospect into a sale.

Allow the designer to work directly with the end-user and/or decision maker. Please!

Bring us in on that phone call when you are gathering information from your client. Feel free to introduce us as your in-house design staff if that helps. We just crave that chance to hear what a client wants directly from their mouth!  And we will have some probing questions that will enlighten our design process and leave the client thinking, “Wow, these people really understand what I want!”

As designers, we have adapted very well to taking in words, spinning them around in our brain, and pushing them out into 3-dimensional designs to be presented to the clients. The design process is heavily guided by the information we receive, so the quality of the information is key. Even the inflection in the decision-maker’s voice clues me in to what they really value, and what they want to emphasize.

Why not just do the information gathering phone call yourself and type up some handy notes to share with us? That works most of the time, but it’s like that old game “telephone,” the more people between the end-user and the designer, the more room for misinterpretation. What typically happens:  the design will hit the mark for the last person who explained the booth requirements to the designer. Hopefully, it is close to what the end-user wants and only requires minor tweaks, but often that is not the case.

100% Success Rate

Before working at Classic, I was the lead designer at a custom exhibit house, and I had the opportunity to work directly with end-users on Every. Single. Project. It was truly gratifying to create designs that hit every request, the verbal and the non-verbal.  You can hear the excitement in a client’s voice when the design strikes a chord with them — it makes them invested, it makes them attached, it makes them want it, it makes them BUY it.

Since working at Classic, the opportunity to speak directly to the client has been more infrequent. But when I do, the design has resulted in a sale nearly 100% of the time. And without the need to go back and do multiple revisions! What I’m asking is that you allow us the privilege to speak with your clients more frequently, increasing your odds of making that sale and increasing our odds of bringing more work through our shop. This is, after all, why we designers have jobs at Classic!

Sometimes it doesn’t logistically work out for us to be in on that phone call for a variety of reasons. Which we totally get. We just hope that when the opportunity does come up, you will think of us as part of your team. We are here to help you and letting us glean information directly from the end-users will reduce misinterpretations and revisions, and get all of us to that all-important sale more quickly.

Thank you for making our team great. We’ll talk soon!

Katina Rigall


What is Your Most Powerful Trade Show Tip? (Excellent Discussion in Linkedin)

October 15th, 2013 3 COMMENTS

I’m a Linkedin fan. Mostly I read the discussions, but occasionally a topic or a discussion prompts me to contribute. Oddly enough, I often find the most interesting discussions about trade show marketing are in marketing groups, not trade show groups.

Recently, in the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Network, Vicki Judge of Judge Advertising, posed the question — “What is Your Most Powerful Trade Show Tip.” I’ll share a few of the 63 responses, but I would encourage you to read the entire discussion thread. Excellent stuff.

Sharon Gee
CEO & CMO, Circle Dot Marketing, LLC

A big part of the success of a tradeshow is to make sure you have abundant communication regarding your presence at the show in the form of media relations, social media, and internal and external partnership communication. Pre-show blogs, press releases, social media posts, email campaigns, internal motivation communication pieces, and more help spread the word that you’ll be in attendance at the tradeshow.

Pierre-Antoine Thiebaut
VP Field Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

I think the “WHY question” is the major criteria of the GO/NO GO decision.

My personal experience and most important tip: Don’t waste your time, money and energy if your Sales teams are not fully align with the decision and if you don’t have their total involvement (with their own blood) to make this event a success.

Tim Hill
Marketing Consultant/Owner; Lexington Young Professionals Board Member

Once you’ve found the right trade show for your company, I would advise to be a consistent exhibitor every year and also join whatever association is hosting the show. I’ve gotten more business for my clients from exhibitors and attendees outside of the show than at the show. For small to medium size businesses I would suggest to look bigger than you really are. Have professionally designed displays, handouts, brochures, business cards, and swag and not something that was put together by a secretary with MS Paint. Sometimes it’s the little details that can cause a potential customer to notice you over your competition.

Craig Lindberg
Digital Marketing Executive-Inbound/Social/Integrated

A lot of excellent advice here already so what I would suggest is to put the trade show in the context of a larger prospect/client engagement process. Use it as a reason to engage before and after the event; make a pointed effort to get on the schedules of those you most want to meet with either at the booth or offsite. Make the overarching theme of your presence complimentary to your brand to continue building equity and mindshare, re-purpose event content for incorporation into your inbound program including CTAs to measure response and interest before, during and after the show. Use the actual event as topic for blogging, video and post show topics of interest that are tethered to your lead nurturing.

Scott Yaw
Competitive Business Strategy

Having an established set of objectives (plan A) for what you need to achieve and the flexibility to vary it (plan B) when things don’t go your way.

Steve Reichenstein
CEO, Biomart Global Technology Transfer

Trade shows are about access … access is 2 way. Show them senior management commitment by showing senior management.

Traci Browne
Trade Show/Expo Consultant, Freelance Writer and B2B Storyteller

In my experience the number one place companies screw up the show is in the booth staff selection. I don’t care how much strategic planning you do, how great your booth looks. Your staff is the single most important component to your success. Yet what do companies often do? They send people who don’t want to be there. I will never understand this.

The other thing I will never understand is why companies waste so much time and money on terrible booth staff training. If your training program involves 90 minutes of booth etiquette your wasting everyone’s time. If your training involves 10 minutes of booth etiquette your wasting everyone’s time. Booth etiquette can be covered in a short email. There are so many more important things you should be doing with you booth staff that will ensure they are prepared and motivated.


–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