Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for the ‘Exhibit Design’ Category

Erica Dougherty | A Discussion about Personal Branding and Business

January 11th, 2018 COMMENTS

Erica

What is Personal Branding?

Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. Branding has reached a new level  because of the rise of the Internet. The growth of the virtual world created the necessity of managing online identities. [Wikipedia]

Personal branding isn’t about coming up with a complicated strategy. Rather, it’s about knowing who you are and what you stand for, and then finding ways to make that visible. It’s about amplifying your skills and passions, which is key to rising up in the messy middle. [Forbes]

I am fascinated by personal branding as a marketing strategy. And it’s not as if it is a new concept. In its most basic form, it’s just Public Relations. What has changed is the democratization of branding with the Internet and Social Media. We all follow and/or connect with people who have established a personal brand. Some are famous. Some semi-famous. Others are part of our business or social circle.

Recently, I asked Erica Dougherty, an Account Executive at Exhibits Northwest Seattle, about her strategy of personal branding. From the photos, you can tell it’s distinctive, creative, and memorable. It’s also genuine as you’ll discover in the interview below.

Who is Erica and where did that pink hair come from? 

E-withPen2Obviously, the hair is natural! No really… it is. It should just grow out of my head this way, but it doesn’t, so I help it out “a little.” I am a designer by education/past life, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design, so I’ve always been dialed into trends and design-life. Sales and Marketing are both large parts of my background in various forms and should work in tandem. Social media, quite obviously, has forced us all to be personal branding experts; we all do it whether we mean to or not and it can be for the good of our personal brand… or not.

Intentional self-branding must be strategic, but I won’t pretend that my own was strategic: it sort of happened organically. When my hair became fully pink (it was a gradual transition), it wasn’t as popular of a trend as it is now. I would show up to networking events, and it seemed to be how people naturally remembered me from one event to the next. That was my ah-ha moment — the Pink Hair is a part of ME now. Might as well use it to my advantage!

How have you used your identity to your benefit in the business of trade show exhibit sales?

Exhibit Design Project by Exhibits Northwest

Recent Lightbox Project for Headset

I’m definitely more than my pink hair. Some would say I have a big personality too. I’m truly an extrovert, ready to talk to anyone. I suppose I’m easily approachable because I tend to make friends where ever I go. It drives my husband crazy sometimes. However, I believe successful salespeople should be memorable in some way, something positive that people remember about them that makes them unique. The pink hair concept just found me and it works. The whimsical pink hair is paired with my friendly, professional, and authentic self, thus (hopefully) it doesn’t seem unbusinesslike.

It’s all about balance. But being a little out-of-the-box does help specifically in our industry. Trade show exhibits are NOT something an individual really ever needs (like insurance, for instance), and not something companies purchase every day. It is my job to be sure that if there’s someone in Seattle tasked with sourcing a new trade show exhibit for their company, that they think, “Oh, I know someone!” and give me a call at Exhibits Northwest. So, HOW do you guarantee you are top-of-mind and easy to contact? Repetition, knowledge, memorable appearance and obviously, a bobble-head pen with my contact info on their desk!

So what is your strategy to be top-of-mind?

For the first year of in-person marketing efforts, I have be actively engaged in local Seattle networking events and groups. People remember me from event-to-event (and I remember them… that’s super important too!). Thus I am slowly infiltrating their memory and instilling a positive perception of Exhibits Northwest. Some new business has resulted from my efforts, in addition to event marketing opportunities and community sponsorships in 2018. Each of these is an opportunity to be in front of hundreds of local business representatives. Ironically, much like that face-to-face relationship building that trade shows provide.

Late 2017, my strategy evolved finally when I began planning for my first “Lunch + Learn” and wanted something as a leave-behind. The answer was on my desk for a year — a swag silly bobble-head pen given to me by a wonderful client (from a trade show).

What’s the pen’s story?

BobbleHeaderPenThe blue pen with a giant smile and orange troll-doll hair sat on my desk for about a year, making me smile. It’s just weird and funny, especially coming from my client, QCash Financial. Yep, a silly bobble-head pen from a digital lending company. Seattle’s WeWork locations (which are full of growing new businesses, likely many never or novice trade show exhibitors) are perfect locations to start my Trade Show Marketing 101 Lunch + Learns. I really enjoy working with Trade Show newbies and helping them find success.

What I needed was a fun, memorable and personal take-away,  a small token of thank you swag. I brainstormed ideas, but then it hit me. I should give out a mini-ME, pink hair and all. Each time I give one out, I am sure to say, “It’s ME!” Hopefully, she’ll sit on your desk, waiting for that moment when the trade show booth is registered and the “What’s next?” happens. Me. I’m next. Call me. I’m your trade show support, ready to help!

Where do you go from here?

First quarter 2018 is already filling up with scheduled Lunch + Learns in Seattle, plus other networking events. I’ll toss a few pens in my bag and go! It’s all about awareness, so my continued goal is repeating Exhibits Northwest in conversation, being me, and getting a mini-me pen on as many desks as I can! (Well, my first order was 150 pens, so we’ll start there!) These pens are certainly not the quick answer to gaining tons of new business… but they certainly make the process more fun.

Thanks Erica. How can you to contact Erica, whether you need a banner stand or custom island exhibit? You can reach her at www.exhibitsnw.com or erica@exhibitsnw.com. You can also find her at her LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/in/erica-dougherty-7431ab110/). You’ll recognize the distinctive pink hair.

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

EXHIBITOR Magazine’s 2018 Portable Modular Awards (PMA)

December 1st, 2017 COMMENTS

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Portable Modular Awards (PMA) and People’s Choice Voting Page

EXHIBITOR Magazine announced the finalists for the 2018 Portable Modular Awards this week. They also launched the People’s Choice Voting website where you can vote once a day for your favorite design (regardless of the category).

PMA-GraphicThe categories are:

  • Best 10-by-10-Foot Exhibit
  • Best Fabric Exhibit – An exhibit comprising predominantly fabric components
  • Best Use of Graphics – Graphics for the entire exhibit and/or individual applications or purposes, such as info graphics, way-finding systems, product-display graphics, overhead-signage design, large-format graphics, etc.
  • Best In-Line Exhibit (10-by-20s, 10-by-30s, etc.)
  • Best International Design – An exhibit designed by a company outside of North America or an exhibit designed by a North American firm but launched at a show outside of North America.
    Best Island Exhibit Less Than 600 Square Feet
  • Best Island Exhibit 600 to 1,000 Square Feet
  • Best Island Exhibit More Than 1,000 Square Feet
  • Best Reconfigurable Exhibit – An exhibit that can be reconfigured to accommodate various footprints, goals, shows, etc. Entrants must submit photos of the booth in at least two different configurations.
  • Best Rental Exhibit – A portable, modular, or system exhibit comprising predominantly rented components.

Classic Exhibits has been an active supporter of the PMA since its inception five years ago, both through submissions and advertising. This year is no exception. We submitted five entries, and four were accepted as finalists.

Best Island Exhibit 600 to 1,000 Square Feet

Parrallon

Design/Marketing Challenge:  Parallon wanted an exhibit that made a big impression with attendees from across the show hall and in the booth space. They requested an open concept allowing for a natural flow of traffic through the booth and multiple conversation areas. In addition, the modular components had to fit different size footprints. Equally important was the use of technology and integrated lighting throughout the design. One big challenge was Parallon’s requirement to easily re-brand the booth for their strategic partner HealthTrust, which uses the structural components of this booth at shows where Parallon does not exhibit. Finally, the client wanted to improve their operational cost savings compared to their previous booth.

Design: Astor Group, Cheryl Harnishfeger and Classic Exhibits, Kim DiStefano

Best Rental Exhibit

ForRent

Design/Marketing Challenge: ForRent.com wanted a substantial presence on the show floor with cohesive branding for all their divisions. They decided to feature all their sub-brands in their booth for the first time:  ForRentUniversity.com, ForRent.com, CorporateHousing.com and After55.com. With 30 working employees in their booth, they needed a large amount of secured storage, lots of interactive demo areas for 1-on-1 sales, social media activity, and both in-depth and casual meeting spaces for building relationships with customers. The materials needed to have a residential feel to focus attention on their residential properties. Finally, they wanted more design flexibility while achieving their goals which is why they choose a 20 x 50 rental (rather than a typical purchase).

Design: Classic Rental Solutions, Doug Cole and TPS Displays Richmond, Neil Carroll

Best In-Line Exhibit

Schmidt

Design/Marketing Challenge:  Schmidt’s Naturals wanted the natural and clean qualities of their well-established brand to be reflected in their booth. They wanted a clean product display area, storage, space for casual meetings, and an overall inviting feel. The space also needed well-organized sampling areas where visitors could smell the products.

Design:  Classic Exhibits, Kim DiStefano, and TradeshowGuy Exhibits, Tim Patterson

Best 10-by-10-Foot Exhibit

ShoesForCrews

Design/Marketing Challenge:  Shoes For Crews wanted their trade show displays to reflect their recent updated branding. The company participates in about 70 shows per year with various booth sizes, so they needed a distinctive, lightweight, reconfigurable, well-lit exhibit with enough shelving to show 40-50 shoes representing all their product lines. They didn’t want typical shelving;  they wanted their shoes displayed in a creative fashion. Also they hoped to engage customers in their booth space with media, recreating a breakroom experience that their customers experience in their respective environments.

Design: Classic Exhibits, Kim DiStefano and Art Guild, Ron McEntee

We encourage you to vote for your favorite(s) over the next three months. Let us know if you have any questions, and we would enjoy hearing your comments about the four finalists. Finally a HUGE thanks to the Classic Distributors for their support with PMA and to Katina Rigall Zipay, our Creative Director, for submitting the entries.

Winners will be announced at EXHIBITORLIVE.

–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.

The “Why” Can Greatly Impact the “How” in Exhibit Design

October 20th, 2017 COMMENTS

SwatchBook_header

Several weeks ago, we shared 15 Essential Exhibit Design Questions. These are questions every designer should ask their client before designing the ideal trade show display. In response to the blog post, a designer sent me an email. He wrote,

Here are a few questions we always ask. If the client walks in just thinking about the nuts and bolts of the project, they may miss an informed conversation on why they are exhibiting in the first place and that can fundamentally affect the design of a booth. The Why can greatly impact the How in Exhibit Design.

At that Classic distributor, the designer is usually included in the initial conversation with the client. Depending on which designer you talk to that’s either a bonus or a burden. The questions he shared gauge whether the exhibitor has identified their trade show marketing goals. That’s critical. And yet, it’s easy to skip those questions because doing so can make the potential exhibitor uncomfortable if they haven’t done their homework.

Personally, I’ve been in meetings where merely asking those questions caused the client to consider not buying an exhibit. More often than not they would come back. But not always. Not everyone should be an exhibitor. IMO — If your client intends to purchase or rent an exhibit, they should be prepared to answer these questions.

3 Essential Trade Show Marketing Questions

1. Why are you exhibiting at XYZ Conference?

What does this conference provide that is a benefit for you as an exhibitor? 

2. How would you qualify a successful event?

Expanding brand awareness, generating new sales leads, successful client meetings? 

3. Who is your target attendee at XYZ Conference?

Meeting new prospective clients, reinforcing established relationships?

We often grumble that drayage or labor or freight or show services is killing the trade show industry. However, the single biggest barrier to trade show success is an unprepared, unmotivated, and uninformed exhibitor. It’s easy to blame them for not doing their homework, but honestly, we’re equally to blame if we don’t ask the right questions, guide them to the right resources, and offer professional trade show marketing expertise. After all, we’re the professionals.

Do you have any other “essential” trade show marketing questions? Please share.

–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.

Kevin Carty — Video Update October 2017

October 16th, 2017 1 COMMENT

Kevin Carty’s Vlog.

In this video, Kevin shares his thoughts about fall business, Shared Knowledge University, Classic Rental Systems, and EDPA Access (in late November). It’s been an exciting fall season at Classic Exhibits with increased orders and a HUGE bump in custom builds.

A sincere thanks to the Classic Distributor Network for trusting us with your orders. It’s very much appreciated. See the video below for your complete update.

To view recent projects, go to Past Five Days in Exhibit Design Search.

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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.

What Makes a Custom Exhibit a Custom Exhibit?

October 6th, 2017 2 COMMENTS

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Earlier this week, I sat in a lengthy build meeting for a $275,000 custom exhibit with the designer, account executive, detailer, project manager, multiple production leads, and Kevin. It’s a 20 x 40 mostly wood exhibit with a 30 ft. arch with compound curves, several retail-esque serving areas, raised flooring, and refrigeration displays for food. Plus, lots of subtle LED lighting. It’s for a March show. Perfect project for November, when there’s typically some slack time in our schedule.

If you saw the rendering (which I can’t share yet), you would say, “Now that’s a custom exhibit.” I told the AE that with his permission we’ll assign a kit number once it’s built and put it on Exhibit Design Search. I was joking. Kinda. But it prompted a conversation, which focused on whether assigning a kit number and entering it into Exhibit Design Search no longer makes it a custom project.

[IMO — It’s still custom. Whether the next client purchases it “as is” or it’s customized to their exhibit marketing goals.]

Custom

At Classic Exhibits, we are often defined (or limited) by Exhibit Design Search, the trade show industry’s leading display database. And because EDS is kit-based, it’s easy to assume we are a portable/modular/hybrid manufacturer. And, we are… and we are not.

Easily 80% of what ships from Classic Exhibits is modified, customized, or custom. Which we encourage. In the current exhibit supplier landscape, there is only one, perhaps two, builders in our industry that do anything similar to what we do. Don’t misunderstand me. There are portable/modular suppliers. There are custom houses. But, there’s really no company with a national, non-franchise footprint that will supply, design, and build portable, modular, hybrid, and custom displays from tabletops to islands for an established distributor network.

Whether or not an order starts from a kit, everything is built to the specifications of the job. And when I say built, I mean built. We don’t pull a box from some shelf and ship it. Sometimes the display is a current EDS design, sometimes it’s inspired by an existing design, or more often than not it’s created by our Designers from your specifications and budget.

So I am confused (and I don’t want to be). When is an exhibit custom? Now more than ever, it seems the term “custom” is fluid.

  • Is it based on materials, project dollar size, or who builds it?
  • Is it an original design, not one based on prior concepts?
  • What if it’s built from modular panels?
  • Does it matter as long as your client views it as custom?
  • And, here’s the tricky one, can a rental be custom?

I’d very much enjoy hearing your thoughts and definition. Thanks.

–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.