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Archive for the ‘Erica Dougherty’ Category

Do You Believe in Magic? Attending EXHIBITORLIVE 2019 in Las Vegas

March 7th, 2019 COMMENTS
Erica Dougherty and EXHIBITORLIVE 2019

How many of you out there have been in your industry for longer than 5 years? 10 years? 20? Look, I’m a Millennial (but really, truly an Xennial) and part of what defines us is the sort of “bounce” from industry to industry, job to job — essentially, career building with fast jumps from one thing to the next. I’ve officially been with Exhibits Northwest in Seattle for three years, and in the Trade Show industry for… you guessed it… three years! And last week, I went to my first EXHIBITORLIVE in Las Vegas. Are you ready to hear what this “newbie” thought?

It’s a bit trite, but honestly, MAGICAL is the best word to describe it. Literal magic and figurative magic! So, for all of you seasoned pros out there, do me a favor:  remember your first real dive into your industry’s deep roots (Trade Show or otherwise) and join me as I tell you about mine.

The Magic of Sneakers

2.5 years ago, my very first 20×20 island client exhibited in Vegas, and I was on the show floor supervising the install. I knew I needed comfortable shoes, so I did some research and decided Tieks would be cute AND comfy, based on tons of excellent reviews. Here’s what some of you may not know about me:  a large part of my identity is SHOES. I’ve worked in the high-end shoe world, and I’m a bit of an admitted shoe snob. And at the time, I did not really own a pair of sneakers that didn’t look like I had them for 10+ years (because they were literally that old and I wore them to do house projects involving paint). Nor did I want to buy or wear sneakers in a professional public place!

Well, after walking 20 miles in 2 days in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, wearing little flats and walking on concrete floors, my entire body felt like I was 85 years old with bad hips. Oh, man. Lesson learned! I still love my Teiks, but my eyes were opened — I needed supportive sneakers. So, while I still want to look cute (sneakers are not my favorite shoe genre), I have learned the MAGIC of sneakers on the trade show floor! This time, I walked and walked all over EXHIBITORLIVE between Mandalay Bay Convention Center and Luxor, and I wasn’t waddling through the airport upon my departure. WIN! When your feet are happy, you can focus on making connections, saying yes to that walk back across the show floor or to drinks with a vendor. But I’m still on the hunt for shoes that are fab and feel like pillows… hmmm.

The Magic of “Behind the Curtain”

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” ~ The Wizard

Erica Dougherty and EXHIBITORLIVE 2019

Events are full of behind the curtain magic. Trade Shows are no different. Walk behind a booth or look in the closet, and you’ll find electrical outlets and cords, laptop bags, extra swag and maybe even a person sneaking in a phone call or work! But what’s really cool is seeing what makes the display work: What’s behind the graphic? What’s behind that pipe and drape? What’s under the flooring? Admittedly, Exhibits Northwest does not (yet!) specialize in large format video tech — think, Giant LED Media Wall.

We refer or outsource these needs for our clients, so I’ve always been a little hands-off about taking ownership of a Media Wall as part of an exhibit strategy. But, being able to see behind the curtain (literally), to get a better understanding of how it works and how to explain to and prepare my clients for the cost (dollah dollah bills, y’all!) really helped me put some puzzle-pieces together. I slipped behind a curtain to use a hidden restroom, and low-and-behold, there was the back of a media wall! Such a great example of the specialized install skill and technology that makes them work.

Seeing a Media Wall is impressive, but the cost, time and technical skill involved in making it happen is taken for granted by the audience. There were also other cool tech innovations (moving image and RGB lightboxes, digital shadow boxes, and cookies with your printed selfie on them), but what struck me the most was really being able to see a giant Media Wall’s backside secrets!

The Magic of Team Bonding

Erica Dougherty and EXHIBITORLIVE 2019

As I said, I’ve been with Exhibits Northwest for three years, but for reasons I can only attribute to time flying by, I never really spent quality time with our team in Portland, namely, our Senior Account Executive, Laura Magdalen. Laura, thank you for being as eager as I was to get to know each other better! We experienced some MAGIC as we found out we have lots in common and can learn from each other.

We also got to hang with our newest Portland addition, Bobby Brown. Having meals and walking the show floor together, with our Manager, Michael McCord was beneficial beyond magic. We took our fast 2 days together and made the best of it, bonding over stories about spiders and food we hate. Everyone making fun of me for thinking there were two pyramids in Vegas (yeah yeah, true story, I got confused, ok!?) and laughing together as we watched Laura “schlep” her suitcase around. Bonding as a team is so crucial, and I am thankful for the magic of laughter and comradery.

And… Actual, MAGIC!

Our friends at Classic Exhibits had a performing Magician in their booth! He blew my mind several times, making me question the existence of mind-reading! Classic Exhibits is certainly “Knot Your Typical Exhibit Builder,” and they had a magician to prove it. His act was clever and thoroughly connected to the theme and message, creating a fun experience that also helped break the ice to make connections with the Classic Exhibits team. Ask me how that magician knew what I wrote on a pad of paper that he wrapped closed in a rubber band? I have no idea. But ask me how Classic Exhibits builds custom booths that impress my clients… well, that is less of a magic act and slight-of-hand, but more like the magic of teamwork.

I was told during my interview three years ago that once you get into the “Trade Show Business” you can’t leave. And I’ve heard it multiple times since then too — “Erica, you’re stuck with us now!”

OK, sounds good to me. Thank you for the welcome.

Erica Dougherty, Exhibits Northwest, erica@exhibitsnw.com

Erica Dougherty from Exhibits Northwest Shares Client Feedback

April 13th, 2018 1 COMMENT

EricaBlogHeader

Erica Dougherty, an Account Executive at Exhibits Northwest Seattle, connects with her clients because she takes the time to get to know them and their business. That extends to feedback after a show, which is invaluable.

According to Erica, “My client, Darryl at DF/Net Research, is wonderful about sending feedback and kudos to me/us. He has allow me to share his success stories which may be beneficial to other Classic Distributors. Below are two emails from two shows, along with photos.”

DF/Net Email #1

Hi Erica,

Looking forward to it. As you know this was our first trade show – the Society of Clinical Data Managers in Orlando. We didn’t really know what to expect, and wondered if it would be worth it. Was it? Absolutely.

The new VP of Global Clinical Operations from a long time software client (10 years) came to that conference by himself unknown to his staff. He was shopping for new data management software to replace our system. In fact, he had gone 6 months down a path with a large global competitor – a competitor with > $1B in revenue.

He stopped by our booth for a demo and a chat. I gave him a 30 minute demo, and we took him to dinner. He was really excited about our current software – his company was using a version that was about 7 years behind. We talked about modernization, moving their company forward, and having DF/Net take a larger role with his company to provide services and software. And talked about how much sense it made to stay with the modern version of our software rather than switch to an unknown.

Long story short we just signed a contract for services worth $800K over 13 months. And they are continuing their $100K/year software license. They have studies through 2028, so we can think long term on both services and software.

The take-home message? Did we get new clients? Yet to be determined. Did we get new business? Yes. And the most important thing we learned was that your current clients attend trade shows routinely. There are many shiny happy people there trying to take your business away. If we had not gone, I’m sure that at some point in the next  year or two they would simply have told us they were not renewing their software license.

We also learned that you can have a booth that competes with the $1B companies. But regardless, it’s the people at the booth that make the difference. Just be yourself. I was amazed how many competitors hire “show people” that look good, but don’t know anything. The booth is your chance to make decision makers make a decision right on the spot.

Oh, and the $1B competitor? We got a call from them saying that they had a major client looking to use our software, but they had zero inhouse expertise. Would we be willing to partner with them and subcontract the work? No, we were not.

That’s our success story. Thanks for all of the great help on the booth!

–Darryl

Other

DF/Net Email #2

Hi Erica,

We just had another trade show in San Francisco last month – I wanted to share that your lunch and learn tips were helpful. In particular, don’t eat at the booth, don’t check your phone or email, and always look engaged.

I’ve attached a photo taken of the booth next to us. Problem #1 was that 2/3rds of their booth didn’t show up. But even then they spent the entire time sitting behind their desk looking down at their computer and/or phone. During lunch when the most prospects were walking the floor, they were busy munching on their food. With my new awareness I noted that no one approached during the busiest time of the day. Hope they enjoyed their $12,500 lunch….

I think we had about 5x the foot traffic and interactions than they did.

We also had continued success with our charity cards, I think I may have mentioned these before:

https://www.tisbest.org/

Jim acted as the “speedbump” with the cards to engage passers. A charity card has a better story (and one that takes more than 1 second to explain) than perhaps a water bottle or USB stick.

Thanks again for the tips. It’s an ongoing learning experience.

–Darryl

Please let Erica know if you found these helpful (erica@exhibitsnw.com). She would love to hear stories and feedback from your clients as well.

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

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom 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.