Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘displays’

Seek Help. Trust Me, You Need It!

December 9th, 2019 COMMENTS

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Do You Have a Plan? Probably Not.

Most trade show exhibitors don’t have a plan when it comes to exhibition marketing. They purchase a display, which they think is THE PLAN. So before I harangue you with the obvious suggestions, let’s talk. Really talk.

If you are reading this, you are probably a sales/marketing professional with a history of accomplishments. You got there by being persistent, creative, and organized. You rely on Act-On, Marketo, or HubSpot for automation. You use CRM software like SalesForce or Infusionsoft. You have a comprehensive email campaign strategy and track it with Constant Contact, Yesware, or MailChimp.

When you have challenging problems, you tap into consultants for lead generation, sales training, social media, and SEO. And, when it comes to advertising, you have a team dedicated to maximizing your spend and metrics. In this hyper-competitive marketplace, you need every advantage that money, strategy, and discipline can bring.

And Then You Wing It!

Do You Believe in Trade Shows? That’s not meant to be a loaded question. You either do or you don’t. There’s no middle ground because exhibitors who “waffle” when it comes to trade show marketing are mostly wasting their money.

That’s not to say that trade shows are the same as trade shows pre-Internet. They’re not. Trade shows are much more efficient than they used to be because most attendees no longer “walk” the floor. They “research” and “shop” the floor just like they would an online purchase. They’ve already decided which companies they’ll visit days, even weeks before their feet hit the aisle carpet. Getting them to your booth pre-show is more important now than luring them into your booth at the show.

stk313213rknDo You Believe in Metrics and ROI? Of course you do. Imagine conducted a sales/marketing meeting or presentation without metrics. You love numbers. You love studying and reciting them to others like parables from the Bible. You get visibly excited using a spreadsheet to compare the Toledo to the Albuquerque office.

But, when it comes to your trade show marketing, you are like a four-year old with blocks, relying on the # of leads to judge success. Sadly, you pat yourself on the back if the leads are electronic and not a roll of paper cascading off the counter. For most exhibitors, anything beyond that falls into quantitative voodoo. There’s no measuring costs per show, return on sales, or contribution margin per client.

Are You a Good Judge of People? You should be. It’s kinda required for anyone in sales and marketing. At every trade show, you are doing two things:  meeting with customers and suppliers and evaluating your trade show staff. Far too often, we are spectacular at the first and abysmal at the second. We view trade show staffing along the same lines as a wedding invitation — the more the merrier and we pray no one gets so drunk they puke in public. When we do hold staffers accountable, it’s condensed into a pre-show rally which includes 10 minute booth training. It’s a joke.

Are You an Expert in 3D Marketing? I won’t bother to feed your ego on this one. You aren’t an expert. Not even close. You may be an expert at banner ads or print advertising or closing techniques, but you probably don’t know squat about exhibit design and trade show marketing. How do I know? Experience working with exhibitors and walking shows. Now, don’t misunderstand me. You know marketing and you know sales, but you decided at some point to believe that trade show marketing is more of the same. It is and it isn’t, and you’ll blow a ton of money until you know what works and what doesn’t.

Take Some Advice from a Trade Show Professional

VK-5088aaI mean this literally. Take some advice from a trade show professional.

1. Work with your Exhibit House. Exhibit Houses and Distributors do much more than design and build exhibits. They work with exhibitors on strategy, show services, ROI tracking, booth training, etc. They see the painful mistakes that their clients make that cost them money and prevent them from succeeding at trade shows. Believe me . . . they want your trade show marketing to be wildly successful. That way you’ll add more shows to your schedule, you’ll purchase new exhibits, and you’ll tap into their services.

2. Work with Independent Consultants. Like any industry, the trade show industry has seasoned independent consultants who want to share their advice for a fee. Some are generalists. Others specialize in booth staff training or ROI measuring or social media marketing or lead generation or overall trade show marketing. They know their stuff. They are paid to know their stuff. Don’t know who they are? Ask your exhibit house or use this niffy tool called Google. That said . . . always get references and do your homework.

3. Become an Expert. You can either continue to whine or you can take classes at EXHIBITORLIVE. There are hundreds of classes each year on every imaginable topic related to trade shows and trade show marketing. The classes are a great place to meet industry professionals and share your successes and failures with colleagues. For such a big industry, it’s actually a very small community.

No one can know everything. And what’s true for marketing automation software or social media advertising is also true for trade shows. Know what you don’t know and for everything else, seek help.

Cheers!

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


 

20 Clues It’s Time to Check the Meter on Your Trade Show Display

May 22nd, 2019 4 COMMENTS

Several years ago, I wrote “What’s the Expiration Date of Your Trade Show Display?

Recently, I decided to update it, but after re-reading it, I decided not to make any changes since it still makes me smile. I know… that sounds egotistical, but the line “It smells like the Pennsylvania Convention Center and even Fabreze can’t kill the odor” makes me laugh.

Instead, we give you 20 MORE Reasons to Check the Meter on Your Display. Enjoy and please add to the list. 

20 Clues Your Exhibit Has Expired

  • Your last legal source for halogen lights is now a frozen yogurt store. Your next option is a dark web site run by a dude with the handle “NotWearingPants.”
  • Your 19” flat screen monitor was made by Magnavox. Or Zenith. Or RCA.
  • Six months ago, you bought a display from a company that specializes in imprinted coffee mugs and key chains. Surprise! That display lasted for one show.
  • EXHIBITOR Magazine included your exhibit in its article recent History of Portable Displays 1995.
  • Your repair kit is a shoebox with zip ties, Velcro, duct tape, a box cutter, Tylenol, a hammer, lipstick, and fifty mousepads.
  • There’s a COMDEX label on your crate.
  • Your logo hasn’t been that color since the Bush administration. The FIRST one.
  • Jimmy, your labor guy at Moscone, remembers setting up your booth at TS2. Whenever he wants your attention, he says, “Hey, Whippersnapper!”
  • Two (very painful) words: Foldable Truss
  • You put your glasses on only to discover that your graphics are even fuzzier.  

  • “Parts and pieces” means something different now than when the display was new.
  • You think SEG stands for “Some Extra Gravy.” Which makes you very happy whenever someone asks you if you want more SEG.
  • Your primary colors are Harvest Gold and Avocado Green.
  • Show organizers keep suggesting space near the restrooms because of “all the extra traffic you’ll see.”
  • You play “Eye of the Tiger” in the booth and your hanging sign announces you are “Risin’ Up to the Challenge of Our Rival.”
  • Your exhibit house stores your crates near the fire escape. They’ve stenciled a skull and crossbones on all four sides.
  • The manufacturer had to entice Eddie the Machinist out of retirement with three bottles of Jack Daniels to fulfill your order for replacement parts.
  • The storage closet smells like Becky’s perfume, and she quit 11 years ago.
  • Your portable display case has more stickers than the VW van of a Grateful Dead groupie.
  • Your colleagues are always busy whenever you ask for volunteers for a January trade show in Las Vegas or Orlando. And your company is based in Fargo.  

Bonus: When You Bought Your Display…

  • You were addicted to TAB.
  • You paid a bribe to get your kid a Teddy Ruxpin.
  • Your new car came equipped with ashtrays and lighters and flipping the windshield wiper switch on and off was intermittent wipers. The high-beam switch was on the floor (where it still should be!).
  • Your iPod Shuffle held 120 songs!
  • You had 12 magazine subscriptions.
  • You dropped your film off at a FOTOMAT in a Woolco parking lot.
  • Danielle Steele and Stephen King had only written 50 books between the two of them.
  • You had a MySpace account
  • Zombies were a musical group.
  • “Sustainable” meant making it through an 8-hour shift on the tradeshow floor after partying with Mikey and the guys until 5 am.
  • Mr. Coffee was all the coffee you needed.

How do you determine the expiration date of a trade show display? 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, 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.

Do You Believe in Magic? Attending EXHIBITORLIVE 2019 in Las Vegas

March 7th, 2019 COMMENTS
Erica Dougherty and EXHIBITORLIVE 2019

How many of you out there have been in your industry for longer than 5 years? 10 years? 20? Look, I’m a Millennial (but really, truly an Xennial) and part of what defines us is the sort of “bounce” from industry to industry, job to job — essentially, career building with fast jumps from one thing to the next. I’ve officially been with Exhibits Northwest in Seattle for three years, and in the Trade Show industry for… you guessed it… three years! And last week, I went to my first EXHIBITORLIVE in Las Vegas. Are you ready to hear what this “newbie” thought?

It’s a bit trite, but honestly, MAGICAL is the best word to describe it. Literal magic and figurative magic! So, for all of you seasoned pros out there, do me a favor:  remember your first real dive into your industry’s deep roots (Trade Show or otherwise) and join me as I tell you about mine.

The Magic of Sneakers

2.5 years ago, my very first 20×20 island client exhibited in Vegas, and I was on the show floor supervising the install. I knew I needed comfortable shoes, so I did some research and decided Tieks would be cute AND comfy, based on tons of excellent reviews. Here’s what some of you may not know about me:  a large part of my identity is SHOES. I’ve worked in the high-end shoe world, and I’m a bit of an admitted shoe snob. And at the time, I did not really own a pair of sneakers that didn’t look like I had them for 10+ years (because they were literally that old and I wore them to do house projects involving paint). Nor did I want to buy or wear sneakers in a professional public place!

Well, after walking 20 miles in 2 days in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, wearing little flats and walking on concrete floors, my entire body felt like I was 85 years old with bad hips. Oh, man. Lesson learned! I still love my Teiks, but my eyes were opened — I needed supportive sneakers. So, while I still want to look cute (sneakers are not my favorite shoe genre), I have learned the MAGIC of sneakers on the trade show floor! This time, I walked and walked all over EXHIBITORLIVE between Mandalay Bay Convention Center and Luxor, and I wasn’t waddling through the airport upon my departure. WIN! When your feet are happy, you can focus on making connections, saying yes to that walk back across the show floor or to drinks with a vendor. But I’m still on the hunt for shoes that are fab and feel like pillows… hmmm.

The Magic of “Behind the Curtain”

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” ~ The Wizard

Erica Dougherty and EXHIBITORLIVE 2019

Events are full of behind the curtain magic. Trade Shows are no different. Walk behind a booth or look in the closet, and you’ll find electrical outlets and cords, laptop bags, extra swag and maybe even a person sneaking in a phone call or work! But what’s really cool is seeing what makes the display work: What’s behind the graphic? What’s behind that pipe and drape? What’s under the flooring? Admittedly, Exhibits Northwest does not (yet!) specialize in large format video tech — think, Giant LED Media Wall.

We refer or outsource these needs for our clients, so I’ve always been a little hands-off about taking ownership of a Media Wall as part of an exhibit strategy. But, being able to see behind the curtain (literally), to get a better understanding of how it works and how to explain to and prepare my clients for the cost (dollah dollah bills, y’all!) really helped me put some puzzle-pieces together. I slipped behind a curtain to use a hidden restroom, and low-and-behold, there was the back of a media wall! Such a great example of the specialized install skill and technology that makes them work.

Seeing a Media Wall is impressive, but the cost, time and technical skill involved in making it happen is taken for granted by the audience. There were also other cool tech innovations (moving image and RGB lightboxes, digital shadow boxes, and cookies with your printed selfie on them), but what struck me the most was really being able to see a giant Media Wall’s backside secrets!

The Magic of Team Bonding

Erica Dougherty and EXHIBITORLIVE 2019

As I said, I’ve been with Exhibits Northwest for three years, but for reasons I can only attribute to time flying by, I never really spent quality time with our team in Portland, namely, our Senior Account Executive, Laura Magdalen. Laura, thank you for being as eager as I was to get to know each other better! We experienced some MAGIC as we found out we have lots in common and can learn from each other.

We also got to hang with our newest Portland addition, Bobby Brown. Having meals and walking the show floor together, with our Manager, Michael McCord was beneficial beyond magic. We took our fast 2 days together and made the best of it, bonding over stories about spiders and food we hate. Everyone making fun of me for thinking there were two pyramids in Vegas (yeah yeah, true story, I got confused, ok!?) and laughing together as we watched Laura “schlep” her suitcase around. Bonding as a team is so crucial, and I am thankful for the magic of laughter and comradery.

And… Actual, MAGIC!

Our friends at Classic Exhibits had a performing Magician in their booth! He blew my mind several times, making me question the existence of mind-reading! Classic Exhibits is certainly “Knot Your Typical Exhibit Builder,” and they had a magician to prove it. His act was clever and thoroughly connected to the theme and message, creating a fun experience that also helped break the ice to make connections with the Classic Exhibits team. Ask me how that magician knew what I wrote on a pad of paper that he wrapped closed in a rubber band? I have no idea. But ask me how Classic Exhibits builds custom booths that impress my clients… well, that is less of a magic act and slight-of-hand, but more like the magic of teamwork.

I was told during my interview three years ago that once you get into the “Trade Show Business” you can’t leave. And I’ve heard it multiple times since then too — “Erica, you’re stuck with us now!”

OK, sounds good to me. Thank you for the welcome.

Erica Dougherty, Exhibits Northwest, erica@exhibitsnw.com

An Exhibit Design Search Video by the TradeshowGuy

December 3rd, 2018 COMMENTS

How to Promote Your Branded Exhibit Design Search

I’m often asked by Classic Exhibits Distributors, “How do I promote our branded Exhibit Design Search?” Well, in addition to making it prominent on your website and using it as a sales tool with clients, you should feature it on social media, like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and even YouTube. 

Consider posting:

  • New Exhibit Designs
  • Unique Solutions such as Charging Stations, iPad Kiosks, and LED Lightboxes
  • Exhibit Specials and Lightning Deals
  • Photos
  • Trade Show Marketing Articles
  • Videos

Here’s an example. Tim Patterson at TradeshowGuy Exhibits created an EDS tutorial video which he posted on YouTube. He will use it as a sales and marketing resource for existing and potential clients, but just having it on YouTube will also increase the exposure of his company. It’s a straight-forward video and very effective. See for yourself. 

 

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. 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.

 

Comparing “A La Carte” vs “As Shown” Online Prices for Trade Show Displays

December 3rd, 2018 COMMENTS

When It Seems Too Good to Be True

It’s the Holiday Season. Whether it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or the local flyer, you are constantly being enticed by low prices, many too good to be true. And sadly, many are. Either because the price doesn’t tell the whole story or because of limited quantities. 

Many online display websites are masters at enticing buyers with crazy low prices, which on further investigation are not quite as “cheap” as they seem. Then, there’s quality, warranty, and customer service questions to consider as well. 

There are two types of online display buyers. Some buyers prefer the “a la carte” approach, which allows them to add only the features they want. Makes sense. Others prefer the “what you see is what you get” experience. No surprises. No hidden charges. 

Here’s an example of the a la carte approach with a very attractive price on a 10 ft. portable display. Note the $275 price

How to compare prices on trade show displays

 

Basically, the $275 includes the tubing and a soft carry case (no graphic). Let’s say you want a double-sided graphic. Now, the price is $975

How You Can Compare Prices on Trade Show Displays

After selecting the graphic, the next choice is the turnaround time. If you need it in less than 7 business days, there’s an upcharge. In this case, $200 for a three-day turnaround which bumps the price to $1,175.

The Best Way to Compare Prices on Trade Show Exhibits

Although the soft case is included, you want your new display to last more than a few shows. Plus, it makes sense to incorporate a hard case into the booth presentation by adding a graphic. You’re now at $1495 which is considerably more than the original $275 price. 

Two Methods for Comparing Prices on Tradeshow Displays

The final two steps are graphic design assistance and adding lights. Graphic design requires a quote, which is reasonable and fair. The lights? Who wouldn’t want lights on a trade show display? Duh? 

When Comparing Prices on Trade Show Displays

The final price, excluding shipping and any graphic design charges, is $1595.

Does this mean this isn’t a good value? Depends. It’s a basic tube-assembly 10 ft. display ideal for many businesses, particularly for local events. The graphics may be fine but there’s no way of knowing if the company uses 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation dye-sublimation printing. Many low-end supplies used direct to surface printing rather than dye-sublimation because it’s less expensive. And, once again, that may be OK if you are only planning to use the graphic for a limited number of shows. 

My point, however, isn’t to question the quality of the display. Instead, it’s to demonstrate that online display websites use two different approaches, namely “a la carte” vs. “as shown.” There are merits to both, but it’s important to understand the difference. 

At Classic Exhibits, we believe that “as shown” prices are an easier method for exhibit buyers to compare designs and features. It doesn’t require you to “Build the Price” to see the final price. And since all our displays can be modified/customized to the exhibitors preference, drop-down menus can’t possibly list all the available options. That would be a nightmare for the serious exhibit buyer. 

Have questions? Give us a call or send us an email. We would love to chat with you. 

–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, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. 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.