Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘custom exhibits’

Visionary Designs Exhibits — Summer Sales Tips #8

July 20th, 2017 COMMENTS

Customization and Personalization

Many trade show exhibitors don’t consider a custom exhibit, either because of the expense or the design process. They view “custom” as large elaborate islands or heavy and complicated inlines. And custom exhibits can be all three. However, that doesn’t have to be true.

There’s also a perception that custom is always a “brand new” idea. In reality, many custom designs start from a previous successful design and are customized or personalized to fit the client’s trade show marketing goals. That’s the basic concept of Visionary Designs. Start with a successful design and then alter it to each client’s requirement.

The exhibitor ends up with a upscale, personalized exhibit at a price less than a “custom exhibit.”

To learn more, download the unbranded PDF version for Visionary Designs here. To listen to the bonus audio tip, click here.

Visionary Designs Exhibits

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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.

Who is Classic’s Biggest Competitor?

June 15th, 2017 4 COMMENTS

Who is Classic's Biggest Competitor?

Recently, I’ve been on the road, visiting Classic Distributors in the Midwest and South. We chat about industry trends, new products, and challenges in their market. Occasionally, they will ask me about competitors. That’s a topic that always makes me uncomfortable.

Now, why should talking about competitors be uncomfortable? Handled professionally, it can be instructive for both of us, and I am just as guilty of asking a distributor, “What are you hearing in the industry?”

Nevertheless, “Who is Your Biggest Competitor?” always makes me squirm. You would expect me to list a handful of systems manufacturers or internet resellers, but while they are competitors, they are not our biggest competitor. So, who is?

Our Biggest Competitor

You. You are our biggest competitor. Now don’t take that the wrong way. You are also our customers, colleagues, and friends. We like you. We respect you. Our business depends on you. We are honored to have you as part of the Classic Exhibits Family. And, yet, you are also our biggest competitor — day in and day out. That shouldn’t surprise you. If it does, it shouldn’t.

Every single day you listen to clients about their projects. Then you make a decision about who designs, manages, and builds that project. You? Another builder? Classic Exhibits? Let’s explore some examples together.

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Custom Exhibits

Do you design and build it, assuming you have in-house custom capability? What’s the budget? What are the client’s expectations? Will it interfere with other projects or customers currently in the pipeline?

  • Will it keep my shop busy and/or happy?
  • Is the client’s budget realistic for our shop rate?
  • Can I make margin?
  • Is it within our skill-set or would it make more sense for someone else to build it?
  • Should I send it to Classic Exhibits for a quote?

Assuming you don’t have in-house capability, do you find a contract builder?

  • Do I have the in-house talent to project manage it?
  • Should I find someone local?
  • Do I trust that shop and do they have experience?
  • What if the client expects me to store the exhibit and prep it for each show?
  • Should I send it to Classic Exhibits for a quote?

Hybrid Exhibits

Aluminum extrusion systems seem, at first glance, an easier decision. What’s so challenging about designing and building a display from modular aluminum components. After all, it only requires:

  • Designing a hybrid solution using standard and customized engineered aluminum components
  • Ordering those components from an aluminum supplier at the correct size(s), angles, and finishes
  • Supplementing them with accessories from other manufacturers such as counters, lighting, graphics, and casing
  • Creating detailed setup instructions and numbered components
  • Creating re-usable packaging that protects the components
  • Completing all above within a 10-15 day time frame
  • Ensuring margins are acceptable, including time and materials and lost opportunities

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Specialized Displays

Specialized displays include lightboxes, charging stations, retail fixtures, corporate environments, or anything outside your normal trade show or event world.

  • What is the client’s expectation of quality?
  • Is the budget realistic?
  • Is the time frame realistic?
  • Should you design, project management, and build it?
  • Do you have the capability to handle the project?
  • If not, what company has the inventory, technology, and capability to produce it?
  • Should it be handled locally or online?
  • Can you make margin, complete the order on time, and continue to pursue other opportunities?

blogheaderRentals

Rental Displays

The growth of rentals, especially customized rentals, has created a dilemma for many Classic Distributors. Building a rental inventory takes financial capital, warehouse space, and a steady order turn to be successful. And yet, rentals can be very profitable assuming there’s sufficient turn on your inventory and minimal damage.

  • Do you pull from your inventory, add to your inventory, send it to Classic, or send it somewhere else?
  • Do you have the physical space to warehouse a rental inventory?
  • How deep should that inventory be?
  • Are your designs limited by your in-house inventory?
  • What if the client requires multiple quantities of counters, monitor stands, or kiosks?
  • Do you have the time/talent to create detailed setup instructions for each project?
  • Does geography or the show location determine whether to use your rental inventory or rely on a supplier like Classic?
  • Are you accounting for the labor to design, build, pack, receive, and clean the rental? What about damage?

You get my point. If there was a way to measure lost opportunities for Classic, I suspect that we lose more business when you choose to build or rent something in-house than when the order is sent to another manufacturer. At Classic Exhibits, our job is to excel in design, customer service, production, packaging, instructions, and even marketing so you choose the easiest and most profitable path for your company. We have to win your approval, day after day. And that’s our goal since we don’t sell direct.

So, to you our competitor and our customer, while we don’t win them all, we win far more than we lose when we have the opportunity. All we ask is that we get the opportunity.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite
https://www.facebook.com/Classic-Exhibits-Inc-113601405319757


 

Redefining the Custom Exhibit | Pat Friedlander

June 8th, 2016 COMMENTS

Custom Exhibits Redefined

Guest Post by Pat Friedlander

When I was new to this industry, I heard the word “Octanorm” bandied about as if it were the last ditch attempt for stingy exhibitors There was no design consideration — just how many panels and how many uprights.

However, on my first trip to EuroShop some 20 years ago, I was stunned when I walked into Hall 9 and saw the Octanorm corporate exhibit. EuroShop opened my eyes. U.S. was unique in advocating box-frame exhibits, exhibits that were crated and stored in warehouses around the country. It was apparent to me that US exhibits were different. They looked stodgy and boxy by comparison.

Systems and the Rest of the World

Between Dusseldorf and Chicago, I became a convert to systems. They looked cool, they allowed for fresh designs, and they were flexible — not hallmarks of box frame construction. Soon after, I invited my friend Kerstin Mulfinger from Burkhardt Leitner to speak at HCEA’s annual meeting about systems.

As various systems proliferated, bits and pieces started to appear on U.S. show floors. Yet the differentiation persisted that there were custom exhibits (i.e., box frame) and there were portable modular systems —  with “systems” viewed as a commodity.

What is a Custom Exhibit?

Custom Exhibits, as the industry generally uses it, is a relic. Today the distinction is anachronistic. Using the term “portable modular” ignores the fact that modularity is not limited to any one type of construction — portable, custom, hybrid, etc. Modularity is related to configuration, not to building materials.

VK-5148gAt an EDPA ACCESS 2015 session, I said, “It’s time to de-commodify systems and redefine what we mean when we say a custom exhibit.” It turned out I wasn’t alone. “Modular components and systems are no longer a commodity item,” said Jay Burkette, vice president, Expo Displays, “but represent building blocks, increasingly used by traditional exhibit houses as an effective way of helping design, manage, and maintain their client’s exhibit properties.”

According to Debbie Parrott, president, Highmark TechSystems, “Some designers are predisposed to think that modular systems should only enter their design tool kits when they are working with an especially cost-conscious client. For those designers, low-cost and creativity are mutually exclusive and systems limit their creativity. This short-sighted view shows a lack of understanding of the realities of our industry and the needs of program clients.”

“Large clients are program clients who benefit from exhibit designs that offer versatility, reconfigurability, fast installation and dismantle – exactly what modular systems address. This perspective also shows a naiveté about the design trends in the global exhibit marketplace where modular systems are used for exhibits that are stunningly creative, brand-distinctive, highly functional, and cost and time efficient. Designers in our industry need to be knowledgeable on this front, and the challenge for those who are modular system proponents is to educate and show designers both the inspiring possibilities and the compelling business case.”

How Do YOU Define “Custom Exhibit”?

Seems to me that we need to arrive at a new definition of “custom exhibit.” If the definition is not about construction methods and materials, perhaps it’s about marketing. What are the goals and objectives of the exhibit program? How does the exhibit fulfill and meet those goals? And about the exhibit:  Is it rental? Is it purchased? Should we differentiate? We plan to continue this discussion at EDPA ACCESS 2016, but in the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Pat Friedlander
pat@word-up.com
773-230-9989

Bio:

Pat Friedlander is a marketer, trainer, and writer in the exhibit industry. She has spent many days and nights on the trade show floor, and has lots of advice about shoes. She has received the HCEA Distinguished Service Award and the EDPA Hazel Hays Award. She lives in Chicago and often answers to Grandma Pat.


 

It’s Personal. Our New Custom Exhibit Gallery

November 3rd, 2015 COMMENTS

Custom Trade Show Exhibits

We shouldn’t take it personally… but we do. When a distributor says, “Oh, I didn’t know you design and build custom exhibits,” our feelings are hurt. Just a little. We understand how you might be confused. Exhibit Design Search has a smattering of Custom Exhibits, which are mixed-in with the other hybrids and modular displays, but we don’t feature them. Until now.

We created the Custom Exhibit Gallery on the Classic website, not in EDS. It’s very similar to our Retail Gallery and Graphic Inspiration Galleries. All are meant to show our full design and production capabilities.

Who orders custom exhibits? You might be surprised. Custom Houses for one. Pretty often, actually. Portable Modular Distributors. Their clients need custom exhibits too. Even an occasional Online Only Distributor. They get calls and turn to us for a solution — or two or three.

So, now you know. Classic Exhibits builds custom displays (and pretty darn well we might add). Click the link or image blow to see examples.

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–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.


 

Mid-Year Review: Word on the Street — July 13th thru July 17th

July 17th, 2015 1 COMMENT

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Happy Summer to All!

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

I am writing this a few weeks late, but in fairness, there’s a lot going on at Classic Exhibits.

It’s been an exciting 2015, thanks to you, our loyal and creative distributors. Your projects have been ALL ACROSS THE BOARD — so let’s review the highlights, identify some trends, and share a few stories.

The year started with a bang. January set the tone after a busy late December. It was clear we were going to be in for a wild ride filled with growth, unique challenges, and a mixture of tradeshow, event, retail, and permanent install projects.

SuperNova is Shining a Bright Path


06_12_15_2_45240Lightboxes have been a shining star whether for tradeshows or retail! Our SuperNova LED lighting solutions have been designed into everything from freestanding lightboxes and iPad stands to comprehensive tradeshow builds and retail store interiors.

Lighting has been one of the growing pieces of “jewelry” in many designs that pass through Classic. It’s cost-effective and impactful on every level. And in 2015 it has been used to backlit and create dynamic graphics and as a featured design element. There’s a lot to know to do it right, and after four full years, we’ve got it down to a science. In short, we’ve gotten good with the glow.

Super-CHARGED Products

07_06_15_1_45596After the release of five new charging stations at EXHIBITORLIVE, our Designers and Project Managers have been inundated with charging station requests like “Can I add charging capabilities to that…or that…or that?”

In many cases — YES. We clearly struck a chord with the units shown in Las Vegas. Many of you took advantage of our charging station showroom promotion and are now  reaping the benefits. We have seen a HUGE increase in the number Coffee Table Charging Stations and Bistro Height Charging Tables ordered. In addition to other creative new changing station opportunities.

It’s easy to see why. They are practical, brandable, and of course functional. And a surefire attendee draw to any  exhibit space.

“Other Stuff”…All Things Outside the Tradeshows

Retail CabinetOver the past few years, we have shown you more retail, corporate environment, and permanent installation work. So far in 2015, this trend only continues on an accelerated pace. We have seen everything from full pop-up retail shops, to mall kiosks, to complete visitors centers, backlighting, and everything in-between.

Your ability to tap in the ClassicMODUL profiles, SEG graphics, and custom millwork has led to some amazing work. If you asked me 10 years ago if Classic would be doing these specialized projects, I would have said “probably not.” However, it all goes to show that those manufacturers and distributors who have been willing to adapt are growing and expanding their client bases.

This work has become a segment with its own Project Management team and Production Engineer. And its FUN! In September, we hope to share pictures of an exciting Interactive Visitors Center we are building. It’s a marvelous  collaboration of Exhibit Design, Graphic Design and a Custom Built App to drive the user experience.

More Pyrenees… Less Cobble Stones of Paris

Pardon the Tour de France reference, but it is that time of year.

I am speaking about the seasonal sales cycle in our industry. Historically we have always been able to identify the flat or slow times of the year — June, July and November.

With more business coming from retail, event, corporate environments, and of course tradeshows, we have enjoyed a more predictable sales experience month-over-month. Great peaks still but no real valleys (which are now mid-sized peaks). June is a great example. It was one of our largest months ever. In JUNE no less!

Mixed Nuts

Branded CrateThe diversity of tradeshow exhibit orders has been a joy.

The bread and butter orders — 10 x 10, 10 x 20, island kits, Sacagawea, P10, Magellan and Visionary Designs are all there and increasing. But the mix of custom hybrid islands, inlines and traditional custom wood builds is growing by leaps and bounds.

We often joke that Classic is the “Largest, Most Invisible Exhibit Builder” in the industry. And that’s not by accident. Our labeling program strives to build on your brand, not Classic’s. At your request, we brand the cases or crates, the setup instructions, etc. with your name. When I look at the shipping department at the end of the day, I see more and more exhibits leaving with your brands… not ours.

As you know, we encourage this practice. It’s one of our marketing strategies, i.e., helping you build your brand with our products in your markets. Shared Success!

Thanks for continuing to trust us with that.

Can I Borrow That?

05_07_15_3_RentalJim Shelman and his talented team in Classic Rental Solutions continues to amaze with their growth and resourcefulness. They design the most customized rental offerings we have ever seen.

Rentals are no longer an afterthought or driven by exhibitors with tight budgets. They are a viable and valuable marketing option for clients who want a unique look without being locked into the same structure or graphics from show to show. Rentals give them the biggest smooches for their marketing buck.

Internally, we often joke that we are now competitors on larger builds — Rentals vs Purchase. Which is a fun place to be. We are happy and proud to be able to offer your clients fresh, custom options whether your client chooses to own it or rent it.

The Nuts and Bolts

ClassicMODULPosters24x36_Page_3

www.classicmodul.com

So much of what we build, our design palette so to speak, relies on ClassicMODUL Engineered Aluminum Profiles. That includes 10 x 10’s to Double Deck structures and all designs in the middle.

ClassicMODUL is experiencing an uptick in their raw metal sales to  distributors who build in-house or manage retail, graphic frame, or architectural accounts. These clients need metal, mostly cut-to-length, along with connectors. They don’t need assembly instructions or reusable packaging.

Tom and his team have done and will continue to do a great job delivering new and unique extrusion offers to meet the design changes we all face. With a great emphasis these days on creating solutions for SEG graphics.

Keep a close eye out for new exciting stuff from ClassicMODUL.

For me, well what can I say. The mid-year point bring two things to mind. In the Great Northwest, it has been exciting, but so hot! We have stolen all the 90 plus degree days from other parts of the country. And while it is nice, I have to admit I am eager to get a little Oregon Sunshine back… also known as RAIN.

The other is… the 1/2 year point always brings another anniversary for me at Classic. This year is 21 years! Thanks to those who sent me personal and LinkedIn messages of congrats. They’re greatly appreciated. An of course I enjoy the jabs and jokes as well, like having Beth from Accounting point out that when I started at Classic, Trina from Design was not yet even in elementary school. YIKES!!

It’s been a great first half of the year. And while we enjoy it, we don’t ever forget that it’s largely due to you. You are the ones who put food on our plates. So thanks as always for your partnership and confidence in our team/family. We greatly appreciate it!

Have a wonderful weekend with your families.

Be well!

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a