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Archive for the ‘Mike Swartout’ Category

Design Monday and Mike Swartout

May 1st, 2016 COMMENTS

MikeBlogHeaderREVS

Relentless Discipline

If you read Kevin’s moving tribute to Mike Swartout last week, you know how much he meant to the Classic Family. What you may not know is how much he sweated over Design Monday. No one was more devoted to ensuring Design Monday was creative, professional, and on-time than Mike. His insistence that we never miss a week was an internal driving force that pushed us to be amazing on an unforgiving deadline.

That said… it didn’t start out that way. When we launched Design Monday in 2005, Mike had concerns. He agreed that far too many distributors saw Classic as a basic portable-modular manufacturer, which he felt was unfair and just plain wrong. Our design portfolio was substantial, our production capabilities impressive, and he wanted the Classic distributor network to know that.

Mike_Design_Monday2After we sent the first Design Monday, Mike said to me, “So what will we do in six to eight months when we’ve exhausted the best of the best?” “Mike,” I said, “we’ll never exhaust our design talents. Your department in tandem with our distributors will push us to innovate. Yes, we may not always get it right, but no one will ever out-design us again.” True to form, he accepted that challenge and by doing so, he pushed his fellow designers, our project managers, and mostly Production to be a better company.

Two weeks ago, Mike’s health was failing quickly, and there was a chance he would need to go to a hospital. He called to let us know. Not long after, I got an email from Mike. He wanted to know what we were planning to do about Design Monday. He was determined to the very end, never to miss a week as long as it was on his watch. And we didn’t.

Mike, my friend, this week is for you. Thank you for propelling Classic Exhibits to new heights and for reminding us that creativity and discipline go hand-in-hand. I’m a better person, and Classic is a better company because of you.

RSMGC Donation Fund

Many have asked how they can help. Janet, Mike’s wife, has requested that donations be make to the Randy Smith Memorial Fund. Several years ago, the Randy assisted the Swartout’s with medical expenses at a time when it was most needed. Please click this link — http://www.e2ma.org/donations — and select the Mike Swartout RSMGC Donation Fund. Thank you very much!

–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.


 

We Have the Design Cure. And It’s Free!

May 8th, 2015 1 COMMENT

DesignSketch

Someone once said that design is easy. All you have to do is stare at the screen until drops of blood form on your forehead. Truer words have never been spoken.

As a designer, how often are you asked to reinvent the wheel while the clock is ticking? What if that pressure had to do with redesigning a kit from Classic’s award-winning Exhibit Design Search? More and more designers are saying, “That damn thing has already been drawn. Wish I could get the model file. Guess I’ll reinvent the wheel again.”

OK, that’s not exactly what the designer says, as she sweats blood from her forehead, but you can guess the R-rated version.

ftp

Download Kits Models from Our ftp Site

Breathe Easier

Classic Exhibits has the cure. We will give you, yes give you, free of charge, our model files. However, there is a catch. There’s always a catch. The models are free. If you don’t see the model you need on our ftp site then simply call or email us and ask for the appropriate model file in the file format you want. That’s the catch.

Did I mention we give away hours and hours of our design time to you absolutely free and only ask for orders in return? I ask you, how many things in this business are actually free? Do you recall the time you took that roll of duct tape (thinking it was free) from the show floor and months later received a bill from Freeman for $125,345,000.00 + drayage. Geez, they’ve got cameras everywhere now don’t they?

Classic has offered this “freebie” for years and many distributors utilize it all the time. These are the same distributors who recognize there is a marked increase in the number of orders that close when their designer is in direct contact with their client. Classic Exhibits, always looking to make you more profitable, recognized long ago that not every distributor has room, either physically or fiscally, for staff designers. Our solution (which is also free) is to be your designer.

How Does This Work?

Quite simply actually. In a call with your client, Classic designers can be introduced as your staff, offsite, freelance designer, etc. Why do we offer this freebie? Katina Rigall, a Classic Designer, probably said it best in a past blog:

designWant a 100% Success Rate? Before working at Classic, I was the lead designer at a custom exhibit house, and I had the opportunity to work directly with end-users on Every. Single. Project. It was truly gratifying to create designs that hit every request, the verbal and the non-verbal.  You can hear the excitement in a client’s voice when the design strikes a chord with them — it makes them invested, it makes them attached, it makes them want it, it makes them BUY it.

I, too, have worked direct with the client either as a distributor’s designer or as a manufacturer’s designer. Hell, one time the client was with me at my side in front of my computer for five days. Every one of those deals closed. To be sure not all projects will go as smoothly as grass through a goose or even close for that matter, but you can sure see that the odds improved dramatically. Folks, that translates into money in the bank. Doesn’t get any easier than that.

No Cost Services

So those are two of Classic Exhibits Design Department’s “no cost” services that translate directly into black ink for you. To be sure I haven’t covered all the technical know-how, but we’ve kept the process as simple as we can… just ask and you will receive. You can always email Designs@classicexhibits.com, and we will respond like greased lightning.

Classic realizes a designer can’t always avoid forehead hemorrhaging especially with client comments like, “I don’t know exactly, but I’ll know it when I see it.”  But, if you make your model request a tear-jerker you just might get one of us to feel sorry for you and send you a piece of medical gauze to wrap around your head.

Inside Info:  This guilt tactic won’t work on other exhibit designers as we can’t hear through the layers of gauze wrapped around our heads.

Mike Swartout
Design Director
mike@classicexhibits.com

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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.


 

“I’ll Know It When I See It” | Every Designer’s Nightmare

December 18th, 2014 7 COMMENTS

nightmare

For the Classic Design Team, nothing is more fun than delivering a design that meets all the client’s needs:  functionally, aesthetically, and fiscally. Collectively, we have 24 years of industry experience designing trade show exhibits. We know most clients are not immersed in exhibit design, so the process can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. We are here to help!

Occasionally, we get an ambiguous request that requires us to practice Mind Reading. Which is understandable. We all come from different levels of experience, and learning how to pre-qualify takes practice. Thankfully, we are pretty good at addressing these requests before they become frustrating for everyone. But . . . that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few “Design Red Flags.”  Here are some we’ve identified over the years.

Design Red Flags

I Need This by Tomorrow (#1)

Good design takes time. Great design takes even more time. Think back to college. Did cramming for that psychology test result in an A? Probably not. There’s a process. Not to mention there are other design deadlines already in the queue. It’s not that we can’t do it if our schedules allow. And we want to, but we want to do it right.

high_fiveMy Client Wants Five Completely Different Options (#2)

Clients like to see options, and this can be achieved by showing them portfolio images, discussing their objectives, and defining a budget. In the end, the client is only going to buy one booth, one that matches their marketing goals and budget. One spectacular design is better than five OK designs, if it is on point and includes revisions. Choose a designer who can delve into the project and deliver exactly what the client needs.

If I Like It I’ll Find the Money to Buy It, So Design with an Unlimited Budget! (#3)

No client has a truly unlimited budget. They might have lots of resources, but there will be a limit. Our advice, throw out an exhibit budget number and gauge their reaction: $50,000 for a 10×10? Either they’ll nod and say “Go for it!,” or they’ll take a big gulp and reveal their actual budget — $8K, $15K, $25K. Perfect, now the designer can give the client the best 10×10 they’ve ever seen within their budget.

I’ll Know It When I See It — aka IKIWISI (#4)

Design is not a poker game where revealing your hand is a disadvantage. Most clients have an idea of what they want, or at least what they want to achieve. At a minimum, they know their product/service and how it should be presented. Every designer loves the opportunity to be creative, but a guessing game is the exact opposite of creative. Whether you are paying for design or not, there is a cost. The cost can be as simple as frustration, revisions, and unmet expectations.

The Client Wants a Rental, But I’d Like to Show Them a Purchase Option (#5)

re-9017-1We understand the motivation. A purchase is more expensive than a rental. But it’s not a very good sales strategy. It’s another way of saying, “I don’t really know what my client wants so I’ll give them multiple options.” See Red Flag #2 above. Designers like to design, but what often gets forgotten is that designers want their designs to sell. We want our work to mean something, to come to fruition. When our designs sell, it validates our talent and our efforts.

So what’s the exact opposite? Clear communication and specific goals. At Classic Exhibits, we want you to succeed. We know you don’t live in exhibit design every day, so the process can frustrating. We also know that your best path is to work with industry professionals and to tap into Exhibit Design Search for ideas. Exhibit Design Search is a terrific place to see ideas and price points.

Over the years, we’ve learned there are three keys to a winning design and a happy customer.

  1. Understand Your Trade Show Goals and Have a Budget in Mind.
  2. Work with a Trade Show Professional Who Can Guide You.
  3. Whenever Possible, Communicate Directly with the Designer.

Best of all, no nightmares . . . for you or for your very favorite designer. Have questions about exhibit design, give us a call or send us an email.

Mike Swartout, Katina Rigall, and Trina Broten
The Classic Exhibits Design Department

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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.


 

Pedestals and Workstations and Counters! Oh My!

January 5th, 2012 COMMENTS

The Debacle

MOD-1176 Trade Show Pedestal

MOD-1176 Pedestal

Do you remember last year’s trade show debacle? The booth staff complained about the lack of storage. The marketing manager wondered where and how to demo your company’s product. Especially embarrassing was the aimless wandering of potential clients.

This year is different. You included, at the suggestion of your exhibit designer, pedestals, workstations and a reception area. These are the unsung workhorses of any exhibit, easy to overlook during planning, but always missed during a show. And, like nearly every teenage romantic comedy, what seems practical and unexciting at first transforms into a something smart and endearing at the end.

Pedestals

Let’s make this easy. Picture the pedestal as the cup holder of your exhibit. There’s a reason modern cars have multiple cup holders. They’re necessary and convenient, not just for the driver, but for every other person in the vehicle. Even modest pedestals increase your storage capabilities by cubic feet. Never again will Barbara or Bill complain that there is no place for her purse or his European carryall (aka man purse). Plus, the front of the pedestal will serve as valuable graphic real estate for your brand.

Pedestals in an inline booth, such as a 10×10 or a 10×20, do triple duty. First, they offer locking storage. Secondly, the right pedestal delivers additional branding space. Lastly, whether in a 10×10 or a longer inline, a pedestal provides a focal point for your booth staff and client to meet, chat, and then explore opportunities.

Pedestals can be basic, like the LTE-1001 with a shelf and open storage, or more elaborate such as a MOD-1176 with multiple counter tops and locking storage. The key is to find the design that matches your exhibit marketing goals and budget.

Workstations/Kiosks

MOD-1227 Trade Show Workstation

MOD-1227 Workstation

Workstations have become indispensable to any display. For many of us, we wonder how we conducted business on the show floor before there were monitors, tablets, or the Internet. It’s where your booth staff ultimately rocks your bottom line. The workstation allows you to showcase your product, whether you’re dealing in widgets or software. This is where your staff, client, and product meet and the demonstration begins.

Consider your workstation carefully. Will the workstation be a conversation center highlighting your product?  Or, does it need to be constructed so your staff can conduct a semi-private conversation with your potential client?  Graphics, A.V., and lighting can enhance your workstations.

The perfect workstation can be both a practical and an aesthetic addition to your exhibit. Workstations can be simple and straightforward such as a MOD-1177 or double-sided with literature holders and storage such as MOD-1227. As monitors have gotten larger, workstations have evolved to accommodate them. It’s not uncommon for freestanding workstations to hold up to 42” monitors, with even larger monitors on the backwall.

Reception Counters

MOD-1143 Trade Show Reception Counter

MOD-1143 Reception Counter

Even in a well-designed island booth, clients can get lost on that larger stage. That’s where a reception counter comes in handy. The reception counter serves as a guide or central location for exhibit attendees, much like a receptionist counter in an office. At a minimum, this is where attendees get acquainted with your product or service, grab a piece of candy, or simply rest their feet for a few minutes on the padded carpeting.

The card reader typically is stationed at the reception counter. There’s more counter top space than with a pedestal and typically multiple locking doors and shelves for storage. All that storage makes it the ideal location for brochures, catalogs, or giveaways such as promotional pens, flashlights, or calculators. If the staff is engaged with other clients, the “receptionist” can provide general information until someone is available.

Reception counters can also provide another graphic opportunity generally much larger in area than the pedestals and workstations. And, unlike many pedestals or workstations, reception counters can be either modular or custom. It all depends on your visual requirements. Some examples include the modular LTK-1134 with storage and a monitor insert option or the MOD-1143 with a privacy shelf, storage, and graphic insert panels.

All that careful planning means you can breathe easier this year. You’ve signed the purchase order, chosen the appropriate pedestals, workstations, and counters, and your new exhibit will be built and delivered with plenty of time. You are trade show ready and trade show smarter. Good luck!

Mike Swartout, Design Director
Classic Exhibits Inc.
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mike-swartout/8/7b7/246

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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.