For too long, Portable Trade Show Displays have sacrificed elegant design for visual simplicity. Not anymore.
Introducing Symphony, the first portable/modular display to blend easy tool-less assembly with elegant design and clever accessories. With Symphony, there are no compromises. Simply a beautiful upscale display at a price that’s thousands less than most custom modular exhibits.
In this casual video, we walk you through all the features and benefits of the Symphony Portable Display line, including assembly, accessories, and options.
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.
Do 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
I 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.
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.
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.
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!).
iPod Shuffle held 120 songs!
had 12 magazine subscriptions.
You dropped your film off at a FOTOMAT in a Woolco parking lot.
Steele and Stephen King had only written 50 books between the two of them.
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. 😉
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.
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
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
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!”
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.
New Exhibit Designs
Unique Solutions such as Charging Stations, iPad Kiosks, and LED Lightboxes
Exhibit Specials and Lightning Deals
Trade Show Marketing Articles
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.
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.