Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for the ‘Trade Show Marketing’ Category

Why Sustainability Should Be Your Key Sales Differentiator

March 1st, 2019 COMMENTS

During the past year, I confirmed something I suspected was true: the push to be eco-friendly has lost momentum in the trade show industry. It’s not anyone’s fault, but like other trends, it has become an afterthought for many exhibitors and exhibit builders serving the trade show industry.

Most companies have a sustainability policy, whether it’s a corporate initiative at a Fortune 500 company or a zero-waste policy at a local manufacturer.

My question is … Are marketing departments, particularly the trade show or event marketing functions, tying into the sustainability policies of their respective companies? Some are when they’re selling a green product or service, but a majority are not since most corporation’s sustainability policies rarely include their trade shows unless it’s mandated by a show like Greenbuild.

However, “sustainability” can create a selling advantage — a key differentiator. The subject of sustainability may not be something you lead with in a presentation, but it might be the added benefit that could spark interest and make you stand out from your competitors. If everything is equal between you and a competitor in the mind of your client, then sustainability might be what wins the project.

It’s important to communicate to your clients that sustainable materials are NOT more expensive than standard materials plus the quality and durability of eco-friendly materials is equal to or exceeds those standard materials. You have the opportunity to offer your customer more for their money.

Now that you are excited about selling the benefits of eco-friendly booths, the fact remains that design is the principle reason clients make a buying decision along with the relationship you’ve established and the services you provide. For that reason, Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits will always make design, innovation, and great support our highest priority. We know that presenting a design that meets your clients’ visual expectations along with their budget is your primary goal and being eco-friendly is an added bonus.

Your success is our success so let us know how we can continue to support your sales efforts.

See below for images of our 10 x 30 booth at EXHIBITORLIVE.

Tom Beard, National Sales Manager, Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits

Visit Us During Strategic Partner Hours at EXHIBITORLIVE

February 4th, 2019 COMMENTS

Strategic Partner Connections

One of the best decisions EXHIBITOR ever made was creating Strategic Partner Hours from 10-11:30 am on Tuesday and Wednesday. We enjoy meeting with our Distributor Partners and Vendors during those times because it offers uninterrupted sessions to discuss your business and how Classic Exhibits can assist in your success.

Stop by during those hours, or even better, schedule a meeting with the Classic Exhibits Management Team. That will ensure you’ll have our undivided attention. See you in Vegas Baby!!

EXHIBITORLIVE Strategic Partner Connection Hours on February 26-27 in Las Vegas

An Interview with Jen LaBruzza, the National Sales Manager of Classic Exhibits

January 26th, 2019 COMMENTS
An Interview with Jen LaBruzza, National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits

Jen LaBruzza, the National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits, sure gets around. Let me rephrase that… Jen travels, rather extensively, visiting Classic Distributor Partners, which gives her a unique perspective on industry trends. In addition, she hears from small one or two person distributors and from larger custom houses with over a 1000 employees.

Jen shared her thoughts on the industry and Classic Exhibits in the interview below. Her answer to Q6 is a must read. 

Q1. You talk, email, and text with Classic Distributor Partners every day, which makes you the resident Distributor Whisperer. What’s that like?

The fact that I have worked in many facets of our industry really allows me to step into a distributor partner’s shoes. Whether it’s helping a distributor partner come up with a gallery of design ideas or showing up in a hot pink polo shirt on setup to make sure an install is going well, I love helping our distributor partners succeed.

Q2. What do most people get right (or wrong) about Classic Exhibits?

Well… there are two things really they get wrong:

1. That our primary focus is as a portable/modular manufacturer. While we still VERY much pride ourselves on creating the best portable hybrid designs in the industry I think it surprises many people when I tell them that the largest growth segment in our revenue stream is custom, in the purest sense of the industry definition. Log on to our Peek-A-Booth on any given day and you will see the wide variety of projects on our setup floor. It’s ASTOUNDING!

2. That we sell direct. As Kevin mentioned in his State of the Company Letter, we are a non-direct selling company that is largely invisible to end-users. That is by design (although makes Mel’s job harder), and we all believe it’s ALWAYS being about our Distributor Partner’s brands. In so many ways besides, packaging, branded Exhibit Design Searches, and setup instructions. Our Classic Distributor Partners are always a primary focus for what we do as a team and company. It’s in our DNA.

Q3. What was your proudest accomplishments/moments in 2018 as the National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits?

Jen LaBruzza answers eight questions about trade shows.

First, being recognized by our industry peers and partners for being #1 in Service and Reliability for all Exhibit Builders in North America. Words can’t even describe the pride I felt accepting that award with Kevin on behalf of Classic Exhibits at EXHIBITORLIVE last year. Second, helping a long-time Distributor Partner win a FANTASTIC project that catapulted their business to the next level. It was one of those A-HA! moments where everything clicks into place and many years of consistent partnership paid off for all.

Q4. At EXHIBITORLIVE 2019, what are the three questions you want attendees or Distributor Partners to ask you about Classic Exhibits?

  1. Why does Classic only sell through Distribution Partners?
  2. What is your favorite Classic Exhibits product and why? Hint: It didn’t just fall from a tree!
  3. Why should I consider Classic Exhibits as a partner for my custom build projects moving into 2019?

Q5. What were the biggest trends you saw in 2018? Any predictions about 2019?

I think the biggest trend was the continued push for custom projects both for trade shows and non-trade shows. Call, email, text me or better yet…come to EXHIBITORLIVE and ask (see #3 above :D). I’m happy to give insight on this value proposition, and how and why you should be leveraging it.

As far as 2019 is concerned, what I have seen on the show floor so far is the continued focus for brands telling their stories with visual engagement. Whether that’s with large video wall presentations, bold use of graphics in lightboxes, or interesting themes and shapes. The limits are constantly extending beyond your traditional exhibits even in inlines.

Creative use of space is VERY in right now! The smart exhibitors are opening up their inline spaces and instead of using the standard 6 ft table, skirt and chairs to “supplement” their backwall, they are adding in bistro height charging tables or lower soft seating. And lightboxes are favorites for those wanting to engage in their inline spaces as well.

Jen Labrizza

Q6. You visit with Distributor Partners all across North America. What advice do you give them when they ask about increasing their sales?

Every market is different, but there are several commonalities for increasing sales in the exhibit/event space.

1. Stop using Rentals as a “Hail Mary”! Lead with purchase and rental options because either way you make money. And if we are all honest with ourselves, rentals gives your a greater opportunity to engage the client show after show.

2. Move away from the commodities. Yes, some customers need them. Yes, some customers will never move beyond them, but that doesn’t mean your business has to stagnate. Don’t shy away from those larger projects because you don’t have in-house capabilities. Lean on us as your manufacturing partner. Which really brings me to…

3. Engage the Classic Exhibits Design Department. The closure rate for projects that have started with a Classic Designer being involved on a discovery call with your client is about 80%. 80%!

Jen LaBruzza, National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits

Q7. What do many exhibitors not understand about trade shows?

This is face-to-face marketing people! Which means you need to engage people. Don’t think that you can show up and stand in your booth and wait for people to walk in and ask questions. Say hello, offer them some candy, have a charging table where they can charge their phone while you give them your elevator pitch. Looping a video is GREAT! But again, smile, say hello, don’t just let the video do the talking. There is no substitution for that one-on-one interaction. And for god’s sake, please don’t EAT in your booth!

Q8. Rentals have become more popular over the past six years. Any idea why?

Flexibility and budget! Many trade show budgets have become quarterly spends vs. annual capital expenditures. A custom exhibit rental gives exhibitors the flexibility of staying on budget while still meeting their trade show marketing goals. Plus, they are able to try different things, repeating graphics that work, or modifying a design to better engage their attendees.

And if we are truly honest with ourselves, as trade show sales people, an exhibit rental gives us more opportunities to interact with a customer as their need becomes quarterly or annual vs. every three years for a purchase.

2019 is going to be an EXCITING Year! We are proud of every. single. opportunity we get from our Distributor Partners. Thank YOU for trusting us with your business!

Visit Classic Exhibits Inc. at www.classicexhibits.com. You can contact Jen LaBruzza, National Sales Manager, at jen@classicexhibits.com or visit her at EXHIBITORLIVE in Booth #1623. Use Code 4044 when registering for a FREE show hall pass.

An Interview with Tom Beard, National Sales Manager of Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits

January 12th, 2019 COMMENTS

So much has changed over the past 10 years regarding recycling and sustainability. Most medium to large companies have corporate sustainability policies. And we are all much more aware of how our actions affect the planet.

Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits has been a leader in responsible trade show exhibiting since 1997. From the very beginning, they focused on combining green materials with affordable upscale design. They believe that a booth doesn’t have to look “crunchy” to be green. It simply has to be sustainable.

Recently, we sat down with Tom Beard, the National Sales Manager of Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits, and asked him eight questions about the company and 2019 trade show marketing trends.

Q1. You’ve been on the road a lot in 2018 visiting Eco-Systems distributors. What have you learned/discovered?

I’ve discovered that distributors love our designs. It’s the one thing I hear the most when visiting our partners, followed by how much they enjoy working with our team.

I have spent a fair amount of time this past year being a myth buster. There was a belief that purchasing an eco-friendly booth was more expensive and only for exhibitors needing a sustainable exhibit. Both are not true.

Q2. What are your plans for 2019?

My plan for 2019 is to visit the Eco-Systems distributors that I didn’t meet in 2018 and make follow-up visits with those I was able to see. I’m an old school guy that loves meeting people face-to-face and learning about their business and talking about how the Eco-Systems team can be a valuable resource to them.

Feedback from our distributors is very important to us and helps us to become a better partner. I will also continue to dispel any myths about purchasing a sustainable exhibit.

Q3. Have you seen any specific design trends the past year based on your distributor requests?

We continue to get a lot of requests for Islands that can be reconfigured to 10 x 10 and 10 x 20 inlines using the same components. We have seen more solid wall structures incorporated with SEG graphic light boxes and quite a few requests for custom designs outside of the kit options we have on our website.

Q4. The term “FSC Certified Wood Crate” is listed on most Eco-Systems kits. What does that mean and why is it important?

FSC is The Forest Stewardship Council which certifies that the wood we use is harvested sustainably and comes from responsibly managed forests. It’s important because the FSC certification helps protect fragile eco-systems, prevents illegal logging, and provides re-planting plans to ensure we have plenty of resources in the future.

Q5. What do you wish the typical Eco-Systems Distributor understood about Eco-Systems?

That our singular goal is to provide our distributors with a design that meets their client’s expectations visually and financially regardless of the materials we use to build the exhibit. Plus, we’re more than just a portable modular manufacturer. We have amazing custom capabilities as well.

Q6. My client hasn’t asked for an eco-friendly exhibit. Why should I show them Eco-Systems designs?

It’s all about the designs we offer and how we support our distributors. Then there’s the added benefit of using eco-friendly materials that are of equal quality to standard materials and aren’t more expensive. The best of all worlds!!

Q7. What’s the history of Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits?

Eco-Systems was founded in 2007 and is based in Grand Rapids, MI. We immediately began using ClassicMODUL extrusions in our systems, and until 2010, we did all our manufacturing in Grand Rapids. In 2010, we were acquired by an investor and became a sister company to Classic Exhibits and moved our production to Portland OR but kept our corporate office in Grand Rapids.

Q8. Assuming you’ll be at EXHIBITORLIVE 2019, what are the three questions you want attendees or Distributors to ask you about Eco-Systems?

  1. What makes your designs different?
  2. Are the eco-friendly materials you use of equal quality and price to standard materials?
  3. What makes Eco-Systems unique?

Visit Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits at www.ecosystemsdisplays.com. You can contact Tom Beard, National Sales Manager, at tom@ecosystemsdisplays.com or 616-726-6563. Or visit them at EXHIBITORLIVE in Booth #1941.

An Interview with Jim Shelman, GM of Classic Rental Solutions

January 5th, 2019 COMMENTS

Interview with Jim Shelman at Classic Rental Solutions

Trade Show Rentals have undergone a seismic shift not only in design but also in sales. And, this trend will continue in 2019 and beyond. This week, we chatted with Jim Shelman, the General Manager of Classic Rental Solutions. So what should you expect as an exhibitor or a Classic Exhibits Distributor Partner? More of the same, which is a VERY GOOD THING. 

Q1. You’ve been in the Rental Exhibits space for over 20 years. What’s different now than say 6-8 years ago?

A lot of things have changed, but there are two things that really stand out to me as major changes. One, is the implementation of customization to rental designs. Almost every order we produce includes some element of customization to provide specific needs that exhibitors request during the design process. Today, it’s difficult to spot a rental design, versus a purchased design on the show floor.

The other thing that stands out are the reasons exhibitors decide to rent vs. purchase.

In the past, the primary reason to rent had more to do with only exhibiting in one or two shows per year, and if you were unsure of your long-term show schedule. The thought process was to test the waters with a rental, see how it goes, and purchase once you’ve committed to exhibiting in multiple shows per year. Now, it has become more about design flexibility, and perhaps not wanting to be stuck with the same design show after show. Or, maybe not wanting to deal with storing, shipping, or repairing a purchased exhibit.

Today, many exhibitors approach each show as a clean slate by working with new rental designs that match their specific show-to-show needs.

Q2. Classic Rental Solutions sales have increased year-over-year since 2010. Nearly 20% in 2018. Why?

There are several factors. With the risk of sounding corny, I’ll credit our team of dedicated people, and our incredible distributors, but I also think it’s because of our business model. We understand how important it is to be flexible, and to offer customized design services, and continuously add new custom designs to our rental gallery through our Exhibit Design Search feature on our website. And we’re committed to adding inventory as needed, to fulfill new opportunities for our distributors.

Classic Exhibit Rental Rewards ProgramAnother key factor is that we have the unique support from our in-house manufacturing professionals that produce new exhibits for our 200+ Distributor Partner Network. All of our rental components are produced right here, and we’re able to make last minute modifications.

I like to make it clear that we don’t just offer rentals, but that we offer a complete rental program. From start to finish, we have detailed processes that are followed by our production team and project managers. Every rental project gets staged and photographed before shipping. The highest quality standards are strictly enforced. We include setup instructions, and staging and packing photos with every order. After orders are returned, we provide a complete check-in report to close-out the project.

Several years ago, we implemented our Rental Rewards Program, which offers a reward discount of 2% of the total rental and graphics order when your exhibit returns without major damage and/or missing components. The program also offers two annual prize-drawings, and other rewards for our distributor network.

Q3. What are your biggest challenges headed into 2019? Biggest opportunities?

The seasonal nature of the trade show industry is always challenging. Everything hits at once several times throughout the year, which makes it challenging at times, but we plan and adjust accordingly. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so it’s never a real surprise, but it can hit at slightly different times.

2019 should be an amazing year for us. I would say that our biggest opportunities will be to continue to work on larger island design projects. We’re doing larger projects all the time, and I expect that trend to continue.

Another big opportunity that I’m anticipating is doing more large quantity component orders. We do large quantity orders for workstation kiosks, monitor stands, iPad kiosks, counters, and charging stations. Our large inventory, and willingness to add more, allows us to offer quantities that others typically don’t have available.

Trade Show Island Rental Exhibits from Classic Rental Solutions

Q4. What do you think the typical exhibitor gets wrong about renting a trade show exhibit?

Some of the newer exhibitors think that they are limited to standard designs, and they’re surprised when we start the design process and realize that we offer so much more than they were expecting.

Q5. What do you wish the typical Classic Distributor Partner understood about Classic Rental Solutions?

For those who aren’t aware and haven’t worked with us, I wish that they understood our full capabilities, and our design flexibility. And that we offer a complete rental program with nothing but high-quality “like-new” components. I want them to understand that we can offer something unique for their client base. Something that has proven to work successfully for distributors all over the country.

Q6. Have you seen more event-related rentals vs. trade show rentals? Are their more similarities or differences?

Yes, we ship a fair amount of event-related projects. In the last couple of months, we had multiple large quantity orders for charging stations. And last week we shipped (49) backlit counters to the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

Q7. How has the Gravitee One-Step System impacted your rental options?

Our Gravitee Modular System has been a great addition to our rental program. It works extremely well for towers and conference rooms, but also for entire island and inline designs. It’s super-fast and easy to setup and disassemble, so it’s used as much as possible to save on labor costs. We see a substantial savings in time during our staging process here in our shop as well. We have a large inventory of standard and custom panel sizes, and we’ll continue to add to it.

Q8. Assuming you’ll be at EXHIBITORLIVE 2019, what are the three questions you want attendees or Distributor Partners to ask you about CRS?

Yes, I’m planning to be there, and here are three of many questions that I would welcome during our conversations.

  • How can Classic Rental Solutions assist us with our current rental program?
  • How do we get started working with Classic for our rental projects?
  • What are your customization capabilities?

I’m looking forward to the show, and I’d be happy to schedule meetings during, before, or after show hours.

You can contact Jim Shelman at jshelman@classicexhibits.com or at 503-345-0525 ext, 103. 

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