Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for January, 2014

Reuse, Recycle, Re-post | Favorite Blog Posts: Word on the Street — Jan. 20th thru Jan. 24th

January 29th, 2014 COMMENTS
Reuse, Recycle, Re-post | Some Favorite Blog Posts

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

This week, we’re re-posting a smattering of popular blogs from the past six years. Kind of like a marathon weekend of your favorite television show. Scan through the selections and sample the ones that tickle your fancy.

Next week, we’ll give you a peek into our design process for EXHIBITOR2014. EXHIBITOR is only two months away, and we are in the midst of finalizing our booth design, graphics, and theme. We are fortunate to be working with several trade show suppliers on their EXHIBITOR booths as well. Which is always fun.

There will also be a SUPER BIG ANNOUNCEMENT. But, I won’t spoil the fun by giving it away now. 🙂 Patience is a virtue (or so I’m told).

Enjoy . . .

Be well and have a great weekend.



Classic Exhibits Inc. | 2013 Annual State of the Company Letter

January 17th, 2014 COMMENTS

It’s that time of the year when Kevin Carty, VP of Classic Exhibits, reports on 2013 and offers his insights on 2014.

Highlights include:

  1. Uptrend in Sales in 2013
  2. More Custom Hybrid and Custom Fabrication
  3. New Classic Exhibits Website (oh so close to launch)
  4. Growth in Rentals
  5. Retail / Corporate Environment Trends
  6. New Product in 2014
  7. Positive Outlook about 2014

Click Here or on the image below to download the full 3 page PDF.

10 Common Myths about Trade Shows

January 9th, 2014 12 COMMENTS

10 Common Trade Show Myths

If you’ve ever attended a trade show, you have an opinion about trade shows, trade show marketing, or exhibit design. I won’t try to dispel every myth, but here are 10 Common Myths about Trade Shows.

1. Trade Show Marketing is Marketing. Yes and no. If you are a skilled marketer, you will grasp the nuances of trade show marketing, but it will take time. Most marketing managers gravitate to their strengths by focusing on the structure, the graphics, or the show promotion and planning. Intellectually, they know these are interconnected, but they may not know how to maximize their results. Work with professionals, whether it’s a graphic designer, an exhibit consultant, or a certified trade show manager. Trade show exhibit marketing is a craft learned the hard way through trial and error. It’s easy to burn through a lot of money before you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t stumble through a year or two of mistakes when exhibit experts can save you time, money, and embarrassment.

2. Trade Show Labor is Hostile, Incompetent, and Expensive. Again, yes and no. No one will dispute that trade show I&D can be expensive, particularly in certain well-known venues. However, most I&D contractors are very competent. They can solve almost any last minute trade show display crisis. You may disagree with the show hall rules regarding labor regulations, but the actual laborers in your booth didn’t write them. If you disagree with the rules, don’t take it out on the person assembling your display. Contact your I&D labor provider or show management.

This is a sad but true fact regarding show labor at most trade shows. If three people are assigned to your booth, one person will be a star, one person will be average, and one person will be a zombie. Hire nine people and you are guaranteed to have three stars and three zombies. Sometimes you get lucky, and the ratio works in your favor. Sometimes not.

You have the power to control your labor costs, beginning with exhibit design. Consider assembly and packaging during the design phase. Are the components labeled, can it be packed without relying on a 20 page manual, and are the packaging materials reusable?

3. Anyone Can Staff a Booth. Too often, companies send the wrong folks to work the trade show booth. Even worse, they don’t train them. Not everyone has the temperament, the knowledge, or the discipline for a trade show. Here’s my rule:  Find those employees with previous retail sales experience who love assisting customers with product or service solutions. It doesn’t matter if they are in Sales, Marketing, Engineering, or Production. What matters is their attitude and their knowledge.

Want to know who not to send? “Joe.” Every company has a “Joe.” He drinks too much, he gambles too much, and he wanders around too much. About a half a dozen times a day, you’ll wonder what happened to Joe. Five minutes ago he was sucking down his third espresso, leaning on the counter, and ogling anything with two X chromosomes. Suddenly he’s gone . . . ONCE AGAIN!

4. Trade Shows are One Big Party. For some companies, that is true. They wine and dine customers to excess, party until daylight, and don’t attend any show sponsored events.

Inevitably, those are the same companies that grumble about their trade show ROI. They spent “X” but can only measure “Y” sales from the show. When you ask them about their pre-show promotions, their lead qualification, their client meetings at the show, and their follow up with prospective customers, you get a big “DHuh?”  They didn’t plan their trade show marketing program, and now it shows.

5. Trade Shows are a Waste of Time. If you love sitting in a cubicle all day creating spreadsheets, then trade shows make not make sense to you. You fly to desirable locations like Las Vegas, San Francisco, Orlando, New York, New Orleans, or Chicago. You have to meet people, listen to their needs, talk about your company, stand on your feet, and generally be helpful, pleasant, and knowledgeable. Even worse, you may have to join clients for breakfast, socialize with them after show hours, mingle with potential suppliers, and attend educational seminars about your industry. That’s really tough

You either embrace the opportunity to build sales and learn something new, or you grumble about the airport, the food, the hotel, and the hassle of time away from the office. It’s all about your attitude.

6. Trade Show Displays are Expensive (Part 1). Very true, but so is almost any investment in capital equipment or advertising. Let’s explore this from another perspective. Let’s say your company purchased an $18,000 inline display (10 x 20). Then, let’s assume your company participates in four trade shows a year and you expect the booth to last five years. Now, take the average cost per show including show space, literature, airfare, hotels, meals, entertainment, transportation, and labor. If you are frugal, you’ll spend:

  • $25,000 per show
  • Multiply that by 20 shows (4 shows x 5 years) = $500,000
  • Then divide the booth cost $18,000 by the $500,000 in expenses
  • = 4.3% which is the display cost to total expenses

Let’s take it to the next step. Your company takes trade show marketing seriously (and you should). You conduct pre-show promotions, you send the right folks to the show, and you aggressively follow up on all leads. You expect the show to generate sales (or you wouldn’t be participating). On average, you demand $150,000 in new sales from each show. $150,000 x 20 shows = $3,000,000 in sales.

Based on those numbers:

  • $500,000/$3,000,000 = 16% trade show cost to sales
  • $18,000/$3,000,000 = 0.6% display cost to sales

I don’t know about you, but those numbers look pretty good to me. And unlike magazine, television, or direct mail advertising, they’re measurable if you put the right metrics in place.

7. Trade Show Displays are Expensive (Part 2). Probably 60 percent of all trade show displays never go to large, industry shows in Las Vegas, Orlando, or Chicago. The owners take them to Chamber of Commerce mixers, local business shows, corporate events, regional industry shows, and hiring and recruitment fairs. At these shows, you won’t see island exhibits, but you will see pop ups, table tops, banner stands, and lightweight hybrids. These displays range in price from under $200 for a basic banner stand with graphics to $8000 for an upscale portable hybrid. Considering the cost of most advertising, buying a trade show display is a bargain that you’ll use for years and years.

8. All Shows are the Same. Really? If your experience has been that “all shows are the same,” you may be approaching every show EXACTLY the SAME. Not every show has the same audience. There may be similarities, but the attendees vary even in shows focusing on the same industry.

If you are serious about trade show marketing, then contact show management and request attendee and exhibitor data. Have them describe the goals, mission, and audience of the show. Then go to the next step and ask for exhibitors who have been loyal to that trade show for many years. Assuming they are not competitors, contact the Marketing Manager or Trade Show Coordinator. Ask them why they attend, how they tailor their message to the audience, and how that message differs from other shows. And then do what professional marketers do . . . create a message, design appropriate graphics, and plan a pre-show, show, and post-show campaign.

9. Trade Show Leads are a Waste of Time. Leads can be a waste of time if:  a) You collect business cards in a fishbowl for a cool product giveaway like an iPad, b) You don’t qualify the attendees who visit your booth (or jot down their needs), and c) You don’t contact them until a month or two after the show.

Trade Show LeadsMore than anything else you do at a trade show, your lead quality is a byproduct of your pre-show planning, booth staff training, and timely post-show follow-up. There is a direct correlation. A trade show is a salesperson’s nirvana, namely a captive audience that spent money to see you.

Now, you may get lucky and acquire a game-changing customer while sipping coffee, clipping your fingernails, and chatting with co-workers. But that’s rare. Finding good customers takes time, enthusiasm, knowledge, and patience. You have to be at your best because they can (and will) walk down the aisle and find another solution.

10. Virtual Trade Shows will Replace Real Trade Shows. There is a place for virtual trade shows just as there is a place for dating websites. But at some point, you have to meet in person. And unless you’re looking for a mail order spouse, you’re not going to get any action unless you shake hands, look one another in the eye, and share your story face-to-face.

Want to learn more about trade shows, trade show marketing, and displays? Click here for more than 50 expert articles.

–Mel White

$349 iPad Telescoping Stand with Rolling Travel Case

January 7th, 2014 COMMENTS

Spin. Twist. Bend. Swivel. Exercise? That’s so January 1.

Why buy the P90X or join a gym when the MOD-1365 Telescoping iPad Stand does it all. Turn a knob and spin. Make an adjustment and tilt to your heart’s content. Even do those squats with the adjustable telescoping feature. As a bonus (yes, there’s more!), you can take it with you. The MOD-1365 comes with a travel case with wheels. Best of all . . . It’s on sale at $349. Call today. Seriously. Call today.

$349 iPad Telescoping Stand with Rolling Travel Case

–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


Resolute This! Word on the Street — December 30th thru January 3rd

January 3rd, 2014 1 COMMENT
What to Be Resolute About

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Happy New Years!

I trust you had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Like most folks older than 40, mine was quiet and involved sleep. Although I actually did stay up until midnight PST and am still paying for that mistake. I find the older I get the more sleep I need, but that might also have to do with having seven year old twins.

But, I digress . . . There are some things that never change year after year with the whole “New Year’s” thing. The absurd amount of weight loss ads that hit TV and radio starting on New Year’s Eve and run for the next two weeks incessantly. The same thing for “Quitting Smoking.” And the one I love the most is the insane number of people who suddenly turn into “runners” on January 1.

In my neighborhood alone, I saw six people (the same six from last year) running on New Year’s Day. By about the 10th of January, I notice that I haven’t seen them for a couple of days.

I am all about resolutions and changes for the better, especially when it comes to health and family. But why such a focus on New Years? I mean I get it, a new year . . . a new you and all that. But REALLY? After the 4th or 5th year of failing, I would suggest choosing a different date. Start on June 8. It seems like a good day, and think of how much LESS pressure there is on June 8 to make a life change.

I digress once more . . . I always enjoy reading the lists of the most failed New Year’s Resolutions. Call me a sadist. But here are some that are most likely to fail.

1.  Lose Weight — Historically, this one was a challenge for me, but I found a better date. Super Bowl Sunday was my date. After I gorged myself two years ago on melted Velveeta Con Queso at a Super Bowl Sunday party, I along with 12 others started a weight loss competition the next day. One that still exists. We have all lost weight and are doing well.

2. Save More Money — Really. Right after Christmas your plan is to save more money? The real challenge for most of us is to pay off the credit cards from all the Christmas shopping. This one is doomed to fail.

3. Be Happier and Stress Less — Well, if you’re going to attempt 1 and 2 with any passion, then this one is sure to fail. Besides, why wait until Jan 1st to decide to adjust your life so that you can be happier and stress less?

4. Quit Drinking — For some of us, this is less a resolution than a necessity. You can’t achieve the first three without #4. 🙂 In all seriousness, I am leaving this one alone.

5. Fall in Love — Sweet thought, but in the end, this requires another person. You are at best 50% in control of this one ever happening. Might I suggest that if you are determined enough to achieve 3 out of previous 4 on this list, then your odds on this one increase a great deal

6. Spend More Time with Family — Again, why do we feel like January 1 is the kickoff day for this one? Shouldn’t this just be a given? But again, if your uncle resembles Cousin Eddie from the Vacation movies, I can see why this might pose a challenge.

Here are some funny ones (which I hope none apply to you):

  • I will do less laundry and use more deodorant.
  • I will avoid taking a bath whenever possible and conserve more water.
  • I will assure my lawyer that I will never again show up drunk at a custody hearing.
  • I resolve to work with neglected children — my own.
  • I will read the manual… just as soon as I can find it.
  • When I hear a funny joke I will not reply, “LOL… LOL!”
  • I will not say, “it was the dog,” when I fart. I reserve the right to change this if I get a dog.
  • I will find out why the correspondence course I purchased on “Mail Fraud” never arrived.
  • I will start buying lottery tickets at a luckier store.
  • I will always wear clean underwear, “just in case.”
  • I will eat more nice things like candy, Big Macs, popcorn and ice cream. Eat less crap like fresh fruit, vegetables, and soy nuts.
  • I will spend less money on buying useless stuff like this new DVD Rewinder from QVC.
  • I will never again take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
  • I will stop saying, “Ooh, that feels nice” whenever the security guys frisk me at airports.

Anyway, I hope you had great Holiday Season and I truly look forward to working together in 2014.

Be well and have a great weekend.