Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for September, 2014

Another Great SKU Class : Word on the Street — September 22nd thru September 26th

September 27th, 2014 1 COMMENT
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Shared Knowledge University Graduation

Last week, thirty trade show professionals descended on Portland, Oregon for Shared Knowledge University. The group was diverse, both in background and geography.

We are proud of every SKU graduating class, but this class was truly exceptional in my opinion. To a person, each and every student came to learn, listen, and participate in the class sessions and hands-on product training. For that, I thank you all. Your engagement across both days was truly over the top.

Anyone who has ever held a business training seminar recently knows it’s challenging to keep everyone engage. Emails are constant and responsibilities don’t suddenly disappear just because you are 2000 miles from the office.  This group, however, was involved every step of the way.

This session was a little different. We invited an outside presenter on Day 2, Pinky Gonzales from Sightworks. Pinky is an expert on all things LinkedIn. His two-hour session focused on creating compelling profiles and using LinkedIn as a sales prospecting tool. Based on SKU attendee comments, this session shook up everyone’s understanding of LinkedIn. To a person, they now recognize the true power of using LinkedIn as an active sales tool.

IMG_9189One big takeaway for both Mel and me was that we will continue to include someone like Pinky, and maybe Pinky himself, in future SKU sessions.

To the SKU Graduates, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to learn more about the business and the people at Classic Exhibits. You were all amazing. The time we spent each evening at the Kennedy School and Bridgeport Brewery was so much fun. I hope you got a little sense for what we love so much about our city. But whatever you do . . . remember THE PLEDGE!

To our industry partners who presented, Eric from Eco-Systems, Dave Brown, Robin Talbott, and Brianna Ziomek from Optima, and Marlys Arnold from the Exhibit Marketers Cafe, thank you for sharing SKU with us. Your content was “King” as they say. And we appreciate your help as always. The impact of your sessions was felt by the entire class as well as the Classic Team.

Lastly, to our Classic Family — What else can be said but thanks for all your hard work. You continue to make us all shine. We are proud of you and the work you do. The attendees’ feedback was more about YOU as group than anything else. Thanks as always!

See the Tuesday afternoon reception:


You know . . . after seven or eight of these events, you would think that I, as one of the organizers, would not really have much more to learn. Not true! I learned valuable tips regarding business as well as life. And even some odd tips that are not even business related. For example, did you know that the History Channel is an aphrodisiac? In particular, Modern Marvels. It’s true! One attendee has a two-year old to prove it. 🙂

Have a great weekend! Watch for the next SKU announcement, tentatively scheduled for May 2015. We hope to see you there.

Be well.


“Buy” Button on Exhibit Design Search

September 17th, 2014 COMMENTS


Nearly nine years ago, we launched Exhibit Design Search (EDS), using OSCommerce. It required each distributor to maintain their EDS site and have an online ecommerce account. For all but a few distributors, it was a disaster. They didn’t have time to maintain their site, and the ecommerce function was superfluous. Rarely, rarely, rarely did anyone buy an exhibit online. So, we changed. We created a Classic-maintained EDS and removed the shopping cart.

Since then, there have been countless version changes, but the basic approach has been consistent and successful. One of the features we’ve experiment with the most has been “Calls to Action.” Web consulting gurus insist that a Call to Action is one of the most important features of websites to capture goals. We’ve experimented with various ones, such as Contact Us and My Gallery. Both work fine, but success will always be measured in how often customers contact you.

Recently, we asked ourselves if it’s time to reconsider an ecommerce site. It would be a major software upgrade and would work with about 40% of the kits, like banner stands, table tops, pop-ups, etc. It would be costly, but we’re not opposed to the cost if it spurs more sales. But before we jump headfirst into the pool, we’d like to judge the “true” temperature by wading up to our waist.

The “Buy” Buttonedsbuy

Effective on Friday, we’re adding a “Buy” button on all branded Exhibit Design Search sites, except the Classic website and on the two unbranded EDS sites (remember, we don’t sell direct).  The “Buy” button will go to a contact form with the following language:

Over the years, we’ve learned that purchasing the ideal display takes more than “one-click.” You have questions, we have questions. Together, we’ll ensure that the display you choose reflects your marketing goals and budget.

Give us a call or complete the form. We will respond ASAP. Let’s make your NEXT SHOW your BEST SHOW.

BuyOur distributors tell us that customers call or email if they are interested in a display on their website, even if they have ecommerce available. Sometimes they’ll purchase a basic item online, but even then they will call to confirm. The EDS “Buy” button serves two purposes:  1) It’s a definitive “Call to Action” and 2) It reinforces the idea that purchasing an exhibit should be a consultative process. And, as with ALL contact forms on distributor-branded EDS sites, the information is sent to you (and never to Classic Exhibits). This will be true with the Buy button as well.

Is this THE ANSWER or the PERFECT SOLUTION? No. But it’s a good first step. Over the next few months, we’ll contact you about your experience with the “Buy” button on your website. This will tell us which direction to go.

Should you have any questions, please give me a call or send me an email. Your voice matters, whether about EDS, our products, or our service.

–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


CEIR Predict Conference Summary: Word on the Street — September 8th thru September 12th

September 12th, 2014 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kudos to Rachel Wimberly on her comprehensive summation of the CEIR Predict Conference on September 11, 2014 in Chicago. If you did not read it, here is the link to the full article from TSNN.

Some Key Points/Comments

1. When the U.S. economy rises, it lifts all boats.

2. CEIR expects to see a 2% uptick by year’s end in the industry.

3. Industry specific . . . attendance was on track to grow faster in future years, which is a very good sign. It’s a leading indicator of the other three metrics (net square footage, real revenues, and number of exhibiting companies).

4. “People will talk online, but they will close business in person.”

5. “Organizers need to let attendees take control of the event. If we’re going to engage them, we’re going to have to take risks.”

6. “A lot of folks are still doing the same thing. I am fearful for those (who) don’t change.”

What We are Seeing and Feeling

The Classic Family of Companies mirrors much of what was said at the conference. Live Marketing is … well … ALIVE. And doing better than ever. But it’s only doing so for those who are listening to their client’s wants and needs, and, most importantly, reacting with answers to those wants and needs.


Those who are proactive in their approach are winning even more opportunities.

At Classic, we are seeing positive growth in 2014 — 19.7% overall year-to-date. Two things play a huge part.

1. Our distributors are among those who are not just “doing the same old thing.”

2. We, as a manufacturer, are answering the varied client challenges being sent our way.

So thanks for allowing us to be a part of that problem-solving team. As you have hopefully seen recently in P5D as well as your own projects, the work coming through the shop is not just challenging, it’s also very unique and exciting.

It’s not all roses and petunias. We too are concerned with the fears of inflation in the US and deflation, which may happen in the European Economy. We need to keep a watchful eye on both. But most importantly, someone once said to me, “Focus your attention on what is within your immediate control . . . and just be mindful of the rest.”

Please comment on Rachel’s wrap-up of the CEIR Predict Conference. Are you seeing and feeling the same things? What are your concerns and fears?

Have a great weekend with your families.



10 Things Bosses Never Tell Employees, But Should: Word on the Street — September 1st thru September 5th

September 6th, 2014 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

So, it’s Friday, September 5. The end of the first week of what is often one of the craziest months for orders and quotes. And it’s BUSY! And we thank you for that.

I have been thinking all week about what to write. Several thoughts came to mind, usually influenced by “in the moment circumstances,” but none seemed to hit me just right.  Then, a LinkedIn Pulse hit my inbox, one I felt compelled to share.

So forgive me if it seems like I am just passing along an article, which I am. In doing so, I am not positive I agree 100%, but I can relate to 100% of his points. Give it a read and share your thoughts and comments. My thanks to Jeff Haden, the author, for the article and the inspiration.

10 Things Bosses Never Tell Employees, But Should

1. “I really do care whether you like me.”
5. “I hope you work here forever.”
6. “We sell what we can sell.”
8. “I do notice when others don’t pull their weight.”
10. “I worry — about everything.”

For the full article, click here.

As a boss of sorts, I hope my style negates the need for many of the statements he makes, meaning I hope that, if polled, our employees would say that I do much of this already or express many of the feelings that come with Jeff’s statements. But, it did make me question if that is really the case.

Regardless, it was a sound reminder on this Friday to be conscious of what I share. And hopefully of how I am perceived.

One thing is for sure. The Team at Classic will agree when I say,  “I don’t know everything.” 🙂

Have a great weekend with your families. I would love to hear from you.



The Magnificent, Magical Middle of Trade Show Displays

September 4th, 2014 COMMENTS