Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for October, 2015

How a Distributor Used Classic’s Promotional Materials

October 27th, 2015 COMMENTS

Effective Email Marketing

We love it when distributors re-purpose Classic’s marketing materials. This week, Atlantic Exhibits sent an email broadcast promoting Perfect 10 Portable Hybrid Displays. Not only is the P10 on sale thorough 11/27, but it also carries the Exclusive 100-Day Return Guarantee. It’s the PERFECT one-two promotional punch as we head into the holiday season and 2016 shows.

Let us know how we can assist your efforts and grow your sales of Classic products. Well done Atlantic! Very well done indeed.

Perfect 10 Trade Show Display

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite

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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 www.classicexhibits.com.


 

11 Printable Product Sheets from Classic Exhibits

October 22nd, 2015 1 COMMENT

Trade Show Product Sheets from Classic Exhibits

Once or twice a week, we get a request for a printable handout for Sacagawea, Perfect, 10, Visionary Designs, etc. Most of the time, the distributor wants a simple one-page product summary to leave with their customer or as an email attachment. Rarely does the distributor ask for a large, multi-page brochure.

So… We’ve created 11 printable one-page product sheets. They are in the Exhibit Design Search galleries where they can be viewed or downloaded. In addition, they are available in the Distributor Section of the Classic website, along with other Classic literature. Not every gallery has a product sheet. We only created them where we thought it made sense (and where we’ve had requests). You can see and download them all by clicking on the images.

Oh yes, the 100-Day Guarantee Sheets are there too. Lots and lots of requests for these since introducing the new program.

Contact me for the username and password of the Classic Distributor Section.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite

**********************************************

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 www.classicexhibits.com.


 

Is Your Display Supplier an Importer, an Assembler, or a Builder?

October 17th, 2015 2 COMMENTS

Trade Show Suppliers

An Alternate Approach

Recently, a distributor asked me about the capabilities of X, a trade show display supplier in our industry. We talked about X, which led to a conversation about A, D, and G. I realized after our call that the industry has shifted. The categories or labels we’ve always used to define exhibit suppliers/builders are no longer accurate.

Historically, we’ve talked about portable/modular, systems, or custom builders/suppliers, but those designations seem insufficient. For example, while Classic Exhibits has pre-configured and customized kits, we also build pure custom, corporate environments, and retail displays. Not to mention rental options. And we’re not alone.

So allow me to propose an alternative. It’s not intended to be definitive. Just one attempt to move the conversation along. What have I missed? [The stars do not reflect quality. That’s a whole different story. Rather an indication of capability and selection.]

Importers

blocksImports pre-configured portable displays. Little to no ability to customize displays, packaging, or instructions. Limited selection. Sells direct and through distributors.

  • Graphics: ★ to ★★
  • Hardware: ★ to ★★
  • Creative Design: ★
  • Problem Solving: ★★
  • Production Flexibility: ★
  • Rental Offerings: None

Assemblers

Works mostly with pre-cut metal and pre-installed locks on preconfigured kits. Basic machine shop tools. No CNC equipment. Minor kit customization if no engineering, bending, or CAD work is required. Some creative or problem-solving talent. Sells direct, mostly within region, or through a limited number of online distributors.

  • Graphics: ★ to ★★
  • Hardware: ★ to ★★
  • Creative Design: ★★
  • Problem Solving: ★★
  • Production Flexibility: ★★
  • Rental Offerings: None to ★

Systemizers

Exhibit SuppliersWorks within the framework of a display system. The system may be innovative, but the solution-based architecture has limitations. Because it lacks open-ended capability, the hardware, not the design dictates the solution. Has the same capabilities as assemblers (see above) with more external suppliers. Often resistant to solutions that require non-system solutions. Modest creative or problem-solving talent. Primarily sells through distributors, although direct sales are an option.

  •  Graphics: ★★
  • Hardware: ★★ to ★★★
  • Creative Design: ★★
  • Problem Solving: ★★★
  • Production Flexibility: ★★ to ★★★
  • Rental Offerings: ★★ to ★★★

Customizers

Historically, wood fabrication talent. Ability to work with engineered metal. Excellent creative and problem-solving talent depending on the size of the operation, including technology services. May or may not have CNC equipment. Outstanding build capability on isolated jobs, but the facility and cost-structure are not designed for repeatable and/or customizable inlines and islands. Very good packaging and CAD capabilities on specific jobs. Show and storage services may dictate build designs. Sells direct. May work with Importers, Assemblers, Systemizers, and Manufacturers/Builders on projects that don’t fit their capabilities or cost structure.

  • Graphics: ★★★★
  • Hardware: ★★★ to ★★★★
  • Creative Design: ★★★★★
  • Problem Solving: ★★★★
  • Production Flexibility: ★★★
  • Rental Offerings: ★★★

Renters

rentA small but a growing category. Renters evolved from a another category such as Customizers. While they may build custom displays and/or sell kits from Assemblers, Systemizers, or Manufacturers/builders, they concentrate on rental and custom rental solutions for their clients. Strong creative skills within self-imposed and pre-defined limitations. Those limitations force them to be nimble and cost-effective in order to be competitive. Typically a limited number of solutions, which can be modify depending on the customer and the circumstances. Storage and show services vary widely.

  • Graphics: ★★★
  • Hardware: ★★ to ★★★
  • Creative Design: ★★★
  • Problem Solving: ★★★
  • Production Flexibility: ★★ to ★★★
  • Rental Offerings: ★★★ to ★★★★

Manufacturers/Builders

Solid wood fabrication and engineered metal capabilities, including CNC equipment. Very good creative and problem-solving talent from tabletops to islands. Able to produce standard kits, customized kits, or fully custom displays within a predefined build schedule. Excellent packaging, CAD, and setup capabilities on well-defined systems and most customization projects. Not as concerned with show services or storage. Primarily works through distributors. May sell direct within region, depending on the business model.

  • Graphics: ★★ to ★★★★
  • Hardware: ★★★★
  • Creative Design: ★★★★
  • Problem Solving: ★★★★
  • Production Flexibility: ★★★★ to ★★★★★
  • Rental Offerings: ★★ to ★★★★

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite

**********************************************

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 www.classicexhibits.com.


 

Seven Questions You’ll Never Ask About Your Trade Show Display

October 13th, 2015 COMMENTS

Questions

Do you believe the expression “There’s no substitute for experience”?

It’s true, but experience without context is worthless. For example, let’s say you live in Topeka, KS. You’ve tried all the pizza shops in Topeka. From your experience, Johnny’s Pizza is the best pizza anywhere. Now I could be wrong, but I suspect there are a few New Yorkers, Bostonians, or Chicagoans who would disagree. But what do they know… they haven’t tried Johnny’s Pizza?

We’ll concede that you know Topeka pizzas. Now, it’s time to buy a trade show display. Unlike lawn mowers, cameras, or smartphones, there’s no Consumer Reports and your experience is limited. So, you do your research on the web, and if you are smart, you consult with a trade show exhibit professional. You ask the right questions about design, assembly, and how much it weighs. You even ask to see the warranty.

However, there are questions you won’t ask. How do I know? Because no exhibit manager has ever asked me these questions… and they should.

Q1. Will the Metal Look the Same After 10 Shows?

Have you ever bought a screwdriver at a discount store only to have the tip twist? So you throw it away and realize that a Kraftsman isn’t a Craftsman. About 60-70% of all trade show exhibits have a skeleton of aluminum extrusion. Sometimes it’s visible, sometimes not. The dirty little secret is that it’s cheaper to use low quality extrusions with thin walls and a sub-par finish. Over time, it distorts, mars, and looks tarnished. Your new booth becomes a used booth before you’ve wrapped-up your current marketing campaign.

Ask about the manufacturer of the extrusion? There are recognized names and then there are Kraftsman. You may not recognize the name but that’s the beauty of Google. If someone tells you, “an extrusion is an extrusion,” walk away.

Q2. What’s the Quality of the Fabric Graphics

The rise of Fast Fashion has revolutionized the apparel industry (think H&M and Forever 21).  There’s a market for disposable fashion. It’s cheap and attractive. But no one expects it to last or have the attention to detail of high-quality apparel.

Fabric for graphics, like clothing, is not all the same. Most inexpensive displays are shrouded with thin, stretchy fabric made with low quality zippers or cheap velcro. And yes, there’s a pecking order to hook and loop as well. The fabric graphic is meant to be disposable… even if it’s not sold that way. You can feel the difference. Trust your hand.

Q3. What’s the Quality of the Fabric Printing

One ever thinks about this but they should. Dye-sublimated printing, the predominant type of printing for fabric graphics, is a high-tech process. And with any technology, the latest and greatest is old news in about 12-18 months. The previous generation of dye-sub printers get sold to second or third-tier printers. If you’ve ever seen the difference between an HD dye-sub graphic and a 4-color one, you know what I mean. Skin tones are more realistic. Black is black not dark grey. There’s no color banding . You get the picture.

Ask when was the printer was manufactured (not re-manufactured or purchased). And even if it’s only been owned by a little old lady in Pasadena and stored in a garage, it’s still an AMC Hornet.

Q4. Is the Packaging Material Reusable?

You just bought a new pair of Beats by Dre headphones. They sound great, but you’ve decide you want them in black and not fushia. Good luck getting it back in the packaging. It was meant for marketing, not for re-marketing. Far too many trade show displays are packed to prevent damage before the first show. But what about damage after the second, third, or thirty-third show?

High-quality reusable packaging costs more than bubble wrap and thin foam. Smart, well-engineered packaging is like finding $20 in your wedding, funeral, and holiday party pants. It’s an unexpected miracle that keeps on giving.

Q5. Are Replacement Parts Available? 

Folks send me photos asking me to identify a part. That’s rarely an issue if it’s from a major display manufacturer. However, it’s usually from a $699 pop-up or tube structure. Let’s be honest. There are no parts. There never were any parts. It wasn’t sold to have replacement parts any more than a $17 toaster.  It’s meant to go into the landfill after a half-a-dozen uses.

Now if that idea appalls you, then ask your supplier if quality replacement parts are available, what is the cost, and how quickly can you get them? Oh… and if they are only available through Smiling Sammy’s Display Store, then that’s a really, really bad omen. He’s gotta a guy who knows a guy. Good luck with that.

Q6. How Do You Handle Wire Management?

There’s no middle ground on this. It looks good or it looks really, really bad. Those electrical and A/V cords have to go somewhere. More often than not, the cord management for most exhibits resembles a hairball. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You have to share what electrical devices will be in the booth and where they’ll be located with your supplier, and that includes anything you maybe renting. Ask your supplier about their solution for lights, monitor cords, etc. If they stumble — run. It means the solution is likely to resemble white twist ties from plastic garbage bags.

Q7. What are the Designer’s (Exhibit and Graphic) Qualification?

Everyone is creative. To a point — chainsaw sculpture, toilet roll cozies, saw blade paintings. I’m not here to judge. Well, maybe a little. Most of us are out of our element when it comes to exhibit and graphic design. And like wire management, there’s no middle ground. Great exhibit designers have years and years of experience working on a variety of projects (custom, portable, modular) with collaborative input from other exhibit designers. That’s how they get experience, perspective, and context.

The same is true with graphic designers but with a twist. They must have experience designing graphics for trade show displays. That’s the key. It doesn’t matter if they are Rock Stars with web design or print advertisements. You don’t want an occasional trade show designer to be the lead designer. If you have an in-house designer familiar with your brand, then make the design process collaborative. Graphic design for trade show displays is a craft. Trade show designers have learned what works and what doesn’t to attract attendees on the show floor.

These questions may make your trade show exhibit supplier uncomfortable. Good. That’s how you’ll know if you chose the right one.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite

**********************************************

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 www.classicexhibits.com.


 

“Roll On Columbia, Roll On”: Word on the Street — Oct.5th thru Oct. 9th

October 10th, 2015 COMMENTS

BPAbanner

Woody Guthrie made “Roll On Columbia, Roll On” famous when he penned the American Folk classic song in 1941. The song was written to garner support among the locals for federal regulations on distributing  hydroelectric power via the Bonneville and Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.

Interesting… but why are you telling us this Kevin?

BPA Visitor Center and Library

Earlier this year, Classic Exhibits was awarded the contract to build an Interpretive Visitor Center for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in Portland. A local design firm brought us the project. This past Wednesday, we were delighted to attend the Grand Opening of the Interpretive Center.

When we were asked to assist on the RFP, we were honored. The BPA Visitor Center would be an important project for the BPA, the agency distributes most of the electricity in our backyard. We also knew, if we were to win the bid, that the project would be push us in a direction outside our comfort zone.

Our world is branding exhibits via structure and graphics, but an interpretive center combines structure, brand, and history. That’s no small task since the BPA’s history is deeply tied the economic and infrastructure growth of Oregon and Washington over the past 80 years.

Before

Before

Greg Garrett (Greg Garrett Design) embraced the project from the first meeting and created exactly what the client was looking for conceptually. And that was no small challenge, especially after we made the first site visit. You see, this was not a big open space with lots of room and high ceilings. No. It was located in a the BPA’s Library. Total space was no larger than 450 sq ft. And when we first saw it, it was filled with filing cabinets.

But as I said, Greg did an amazing job transforming their vision into a rendering. Next up was bringing the design and the client’s historical content to life. And there was a ton of content! Hundreds upon hundreds of photos, videos, and more quotes than you can imagine.

This is when our pros shined. Jim Ponomarenko, our Production Manager, and his team detailed and built the structures — the custom framing for the graphics, the counters, lightboxes, the kid’s kiosk, and the reception area. They did an amazing job as the photos show.

The next challenge and subsequent magic came from the creative minds of Glenna Martin and Tony Bennett, our Graphics Design Manager and Web Developer respectively. Glenna culled through the BPA database of images and quotes, working tirelessly with the project lead from BPA to create the large format graphics. And unlike traditional trade show graphics, these were text and image intensive, where placement, flow, quotes, and images had to create a dynamic, integrated story.

Tony then took the same images plus two historical DVDs with videos and created an interactive app for each section: the History Walls, the Geography Wall, and the Business Wall. And again did “an amazing job bringing all that context to life” in the words of one of the Contracting Officers from the BPA.

As you can probably glean from this post, my pride lies less in the project than it does in the folks who brought it to life — Greg Garrett, Glenna Martin, Tony Bennett, Jim Ponomarenko, and the entire Classic Exhibits manufacturing professionals.

Well Done Team!

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a