Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for the ‘Trade Show Marketing’ Category

Reflections on Trade Shows in 2018 | Neophilia vs. Neophobia

February 3rd, 2018 COMMENTS

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Think back to your first major trade show, either as an attendee or an exhibitor. I’m guessing it was overwhelming… and wonderful! There was so much to discover, so many new people to meet, each with a history and storehouse of knowledge. You quickly realized that whether on the show floor, at a breakfast with a client, or chatting with others at the industry gala, that those three days in Vegas, Orlando, or Chicago were special. You couldn’t replicate it sitting at your desk — not on a phone call, via email, or though social media. You had to be there… and you had to be fully present.

Trade shows are a chance to learn and to change. It’s easy to forget that in our quest for the BIG SALE.

Why Is This Important?

I’m often asked, “Are trade shows are relevant?” Is there a future for industry trade shows? Do Millennials, or Gen Xer’s, or heck, even Baby Boomers, still want to attend them? Are companies willing to spend their valuable marketing dollars building a temporary structure just to attract new customers or meet with existing ones? In some ways, it seems a little old-fashion, as if video, live chat, online meeting spaces, and websites were never invented. So I understand, a little.

Here’s what I know. The trade show industry is in a bi-polar transition. There are those who want change (and significant change) vs. those who are actively or passively content with the status quo. Most would contend that change is not moving fast enough. Fewer exhibitors are truly passionate about trade show marketing, and attendees are questioning whether to attend the same shows. That said… Face-to-face marketing isn’t going anywhere soon; however, it may be unfamiliar to many of us in as little as 6-8 years. Consider the recent announcement by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association to scrap their 55-year old National RV Show.

Consider what may happen if the worldwide economy continues to grow, along with corporate profits. How will those companies budget the F2F portion of their marketing and sales departments? On the other had, what would happen if the the global economy experiences another massive, albeit somewhat shorter, recession. Same question as before… How will they spend their limited budget? Who wins and who loses in those two situations? How will those two scenarios create change?

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Bottom Line

If you are planning to attend EXHIBITORLIVE, please come with an open mind and a desire to discuss change. How will you thrive over the next 6-8 years regardless of the global economy, and what can we all do, individually and collectively, to move the ball forward. For far too long, we’ve been stuck in a Sisyphean mindset, one that’s no longer sustainable long-term.

With this is mind, I thought I’d share a new word I learned from a Seth Godin post. Neophilia — a term popularized by cult writer Robert Anton Wilson, is a personality type characterized by a strong affinity for novelty. The term was used earlier by Christopher Booker in his book The Neophiliacs (1969), and by J. D. Salinger in his short story Hapworth 16, 1924 (1965).

Neophilia

Neophiles/Neophiliacs have the following basic characteristics:

  • The ability to adapt rapidly to extreme change.
  • A distaste or downright loathing of tradition, repetition, and routine.
  • A tendency to become bored quickly with old things.
  • A desire, bordering on obsession in some cases, to experience novelty.
  • A corresponding and related desire to create novelty by creating or achieving something and/or by stirring social or other forms of unrest.
  • A complete objection to or distrust of commitment.
  • The opposite of Neophilia is Neophobia (an aversion to novelty or change).

See you in Las Vegas in a month. If you need a FREE show hall pass, click on this LINK and enter code 4044.

–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.

Turn Green Into Gold | Eco-Systems Sustainable Winter Promotion

December 15th, 2017 COMMENTS

To ALL Classic Exhibits Distributors

There’s never been a better time to consider an inline or island from Eco-Systems Sustainable, whether you are an ECO expert, novice, or newbie. For the next two months, Eco-Systems will reward you with $500, $250, or $100 Visa Gift Cards.

Who wouldn’t want a little more cash? Especially if Santa brought you a Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders Chia Pet for the holiday. Yikes!

Contact their talented Designers for your next project — whether it’s a kit, modified kit, or a custom build. They do it ALL. If you are a Classic Distributor, you are also an Eco-Systems Sustainable Distributor. Sweet!

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How to Fix 12 Trade Show Bad Habits

November 16th, 2017 COMMENTS

Trade Show Habits

All animals, humans included, are creatures of habit. We learn how to survive or just get by, then follow those routines day after day. Breaking those ingrained habits can be tough, even when we recognize the benefits. Scientific studies have shown us that individuals rarely change without a supportive group either encouraging them or modeling alternate behavior.

Trade shows are no different. Exhibitors and attendees find their safe space and get comfortable: same shows, same people, same message.

Let’s examine some “comfortable “trade show habits that are undermining your ability to succeed. Fair warning. Some will be easy. Others much harder.

Your 12 Trade Show Bad Habits (in no particular order) 

1. Goals: Once upon a time you were new to trade shows. You asked, “Why are we attending this show”? “What is the desired outcome?” “Who are our prospective clients and what is the best message to attract their attention?” Those questions still matter, even if no one is asking them.

BoothDork2. Clothing: Are you still wearing that same polo with your corporate logo from 2014? It still looks OK, unless you’re standing next to Randy who was hired in March and has a new shirt. Trade show clothing is the exact opposite of your normal wardrobe. If it’s “really” comfortable, then it’s probably time to switch.

3. Day Three: Yes, it’s Day Three. Experience tells you that nothing happens on Day Three. Until it does. For many attendees, that’s the ideal day to walk the show floor. The crowds are thinner, and they see and hear the unfiltered stories. Often, it’s the BIG DEALS that get done during those last four hours.

4. Leads: On Day 1, you are studying each lead like a forensic scientist. Day 2, not so much. Day 3, Warren Buffett could have dropped his business card in the fish bowl and you wouldn’t know until next week. Reviewing leads notes each day turns cold leads into warm ones. The more notes the better for everyone.

5. Mixers: Every year, the show throws a gala where exhibitors, attendees, and presenters mingle. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people in a casual setting. A long time ago, you were the consummate sales professional, chatting with folks and working the room. Now… you gravitate to the people you know or hang with co-workers. The trade show doesn’t end at 4 pm each day.

6. Labor: We all have war stories about labor. Some are valid… and painful. But it doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Many exhibitors order labor from the general contractor. The form is in the packet which makes it convenient. Instead, consider an Exhibit-Appointed Contractor (EAC). They want to earn your business for years, not just that show. It’s a new habit worth keeping.

7. Graphics: The graphics were awesome at the last show. Same as the one before. And the one before that. Graphics, whether fabric or direct print, have a half-life, closer to a fruit fly than uranium. Graphics are the single most important visual in your booth, even more than the model you hired to demo your new gizmo. At least get them reprinted. At best have them redesigned.

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8. Early Bird Submissions: SHIT! You missed the early bird submission date again. How does that keep happening? Perhaps you might want to set a reward for yourself (and your team)? Whatever money you save by completing those forms early will go towards a nice meal to celebrate your success at the trade show.

9. Booth Camping: You love your booth. It’s familiar and comfortable. Your co-workers are there. You see friendly customers. But when someone asks you what you saw at the show, you pause… because you never wandered around. You never saw your competition or discovered new vendors. A trade show is more than finding new customers. It’s about meeting new people, finding alternative suppliers, and upping your industry knowledge.

10. Pre-show Marketing: This one will be short and sweet. You know you should do it. You used to do it. What changed? Don’t make me lecture you about the importance of pre-show marketing.

11. Education: Think back to when you were an industry rookie. You were eager to learn. They couldn’t stop you from attending classes. Heck, you wanted to be the one teaching newbies about the industry you love. Time to reset your priorities. If nothing else, those classes are great places to meet new people (and potential customers).

12. Size: Year after year, you reserve the same size booth space at the same show. Doesn’t it make sense to evaluate it based on your sales, marketing focus, show effectiveness? Of course it does. That doesn’t mean going larger. Sometimes it means going smaller. The same analysis should be made about the shows you attend. Shows ebb and flow for a variety of reasons. Just like your business.

We all know habits die hard, both good and bad. As you head into 2018, vow to be a better trade show marketer. And unlike New Year’s resolutions, you shouldn’t have any problem keeping these. You’ll feel better, and your trade show marketing results will improve.

–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.

We Don’t Care. We Really Don’t Care!

October 28th, 2017 COMMENTS

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Thank you for a CRAZY FALL SEASON. We’ve had strong sales, including a record number of AMAZING custom projects. You kept us busy and inspired in Q3, which the Classic Exhibits Family appreciates.

The rental division, Classic Rental Solutions (CRS), saw the largest surge. And that’s not surprising. Exhibit rentals are growing at Classic and throughout the industry. More and more exhibitors are attracted to the smaller upfront investment and the luxury of changing their design from show to show or year to year. The exhibitor’s desire to “mix things up” challenges many builder’s design flexibility and capacity. Not every company has the capability (or willingness) to stretch their rental program.

But We Do. And Here’s Why.

#1. Classic Exhibits and CRS support over 200 distributors. Not every distributor taps into our rental division, but the vast majority send us multiple projects every year. That volume means we have an unmatched inventory when your client needs five LED lightboxes, a double-deck display, a 40 x 40 island, or 37 monitor stands for an event. There are few requests we can’t handle.

#2. We are the manufacturer. We’re not ordering modular frames, cut aluminum extrusion, or custom wood counters. We’re building them. If the rental division needs a custom counter or curved Gravitee One-Step frames, it’s done in days, not weeks. It also means we control the quality. We have no hesitation about throwing away damaged aluminum, chipped laminate, or rebuilding or replacing crates. What we ship has to be perfect because we’re answerable not only to you but also to your client. Happy customers mean more rental orders. And that makes us happy.

#3. We are the designer (in most cases). That gives us enormous flexibility to create customized rental designs. We can choose to build a custom component for a specific design. So many rental designs on the show floor are cut-and-paste, carbon copies of modular panel templates. Be honest. How often have you seen the same rectangular tower with four arches and stock counters? Rentals are growing but some of the designs on the show floor are getting pretty stale.

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#4. We are Classic Exhibits. Over the years, we’ve built our reputation on design, quality, flexibility, and nimble engineering. And especially predictability. When you open a rental crate there should be no surprises. It will include detailed instructions, immaculate packaging, and graphics that fit, since the display was staged and photos taken in our facility.

#5. Lightboxes, Charging Stations, Monitor Stands, Tablet Solutions, LED Accent Lighting, etc. Trade show industry trends change FAST. Those trends should apply equally to rentals as they do to purchases. Sadly, that’s not true for all suppliers. At Classic Exhibits, we have no reason not to cross-pollinate purchase trends with rentals. We benefit. You benefit. Your client benefits.

So…. you may be wondering about the title of this blog post — “We Don’t Care. We Really Don’t Care.” On occasion, a distributor will apologize for a rental order. Their client considered both a rental or a purchase but eventually decided to rent. Yes, the initial order is is smaller but that’s fine. Rental orders, over time, tend to be larger than purchases. And frankly, the margins are better. There’s no need to apologize. We don’t care whether you purchase or rent from Classic Exhibits. We only care that you do one or the other.

Thanks again for a remarkable fall. Be sure to visit the Rental Display Gallery. We’ve added over 120 designs in the past two months, all with rental and purchase prices.

–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.

When a Table Top Display Isn’t a Table Top Display

October 24th, 2017 COMMENTS

vk_1292_mainRecently, a client said, “I need a table top display. Do you have one that maximizes counter top space for samples, literature, and business cards?

Like how much space?” we asked.

Well… all of it… if possible.

We love unusual requests. This one came down to three questions:

  1. Did she have a particular design in mind? Yes. She loved the Sacagawea VK-1292.
  2. Did she have a reasonable budget? Yes.
  3. How were we going to design/engineer the VK-1292 to fulfill her requirements?

The answer was to design a table top that looked like a table top but engineer it to be a floor-standing display. At first glance, the “table top” below looks like a contemporary table top. Yet, if you look at it closely, it isn’t sitting on the table.

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The photo from our shop floor shows the full frame.

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We are not sure if this is a trend, but it’s a clever solution to frequent concern of table top exhibitors — more space for their stuff. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much a concern for every exhibitor.

Wondering it it’s still portable? Yes. It all packs in (1) portable roto-molded case with wheels.

–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.