What did you miss on June 20-21 in Portland, OR? Well… Just another wildly successful Shared Knowledge University. Our proud SKU graduates enjoyed two days of intense sales, marketing, and design training along with hands-on product demos and presentations by Optima, CORT, Momentum Management, and Blue Pony. They were long days… but the SKUer’s somehow managed to rise to occasion by celebrating their success each evening. Truly, truly inspiring!
Our sincere thanks to our gracious SKU attendees, our wonderful sponsors, and to the Classic and Eco-systems Sustainable employees who were (as always) such wonderful hosts.
Finally, a special thank you to our guest speaker Kent Thomas (https://www.arrow-cc.com/), who taught us that all Marketing Managers are a mixture of creativity, ego, and insecurity — with a dash of SPITR (smartest person in the room).
Since 1993, Classic Exhibits has been North America’s
leading builder of quality trade show exhibits for professional exhibitors.
Browse through 1500 contemporary displays or request a custom design
personalized to your trade show marketing goals.
Trade shows can be brutalfor attendees and exhibitors alike. Just consider the intensive planning, travel, installation, and long hours before, during, and after the show hours. It’s a big commitment, both physically and financially, so smart trade show marketers look for creative tricks to entice attendees to visit their booth.
Of course, there’s no substitute for the basics of pre-show
marketing, exhibit design, branding, and staff training. That goes without
saying. Beyond that, many exhibitors neglect to create an environment where
attendees feel comfortable and want to spend time. Thankfully, it doesn’t have
to cost an arm and a leg to win the hearts and minds of potential clients. Feed
them. Give them a place to relax. And get them charged up!
The Five Essentials
1. Food/Candy. If you have ever attended a European trade show, you know that many exhibitors have (at the very least) cheese and crackers in the booth. Unlike in Europe, serving food can be problematic at most U.S. venues because the convention center has an exclusive contract on food and drinks. Which means being creative with the food you offer.
Most venues will look the other way if you are giving “selective” guests candy, protein or breakfast bars, or even bagged cookies. More elaborate promotions like ice cream sundaes or taco bars require show approval, but smaller items are rarely a problem if handled discretely. Trade show attendees welcome munchies after strolling the floor for hours, especially if it’s presented as a special treat unavailable to the general public.
2. Water. Like
food, most venues are very protective of drinks since the markup is so
lucrative. However, many exhibitors pack cases of water in their crates for
their use during setup and for the staff during the show, which they keep in
the storage closet or counters. You certainly don’t want someone fainting in
your booth from dehydration, so having some spare water is probably a good idea
as long as it’s not being handed to every attendee passing by your booth. Wink.
Here’s an idea you might consider. Eco-systems Sustainable Exhibits, a designer and builder of eco-friendly trade show displays, brings branded boxed water to their events. Boxed water is more eco-friendly than plastic bottles and is more efficient to produce and ship. Plus, it’s unusual and rarely identifiable as water by the show halls. Click HERE to learn more about Boxed Water.
3. Entertainment. Face it… you yearn to be entertained at a trade show. If there’s a magician, you stop and watch. Same with virtual reality demos. Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive, and it should never be a distraction from your messaging. But there are always ways to intertwine your message with a simple game like electronic darts or Wack-a-Mole or golf. The key is to attract the right attendees, not just anyone bored and eager to win a prize. If you don’t feel you have the time or the creativity to create and manage the entertainment, work with your exhibit house. They know lots of companies dedicated to matching your show objectives with targeted entertainment.
4. Comfortable Furniture. EVERY ATTENDEE appreciates comfortable chairs or loveseats in a booth, regardless of the booth size. Furniture encourages clients to linger so you have time to assess their needs and suggest solutions. Thankfully, modern rental furniture comes in a wide variety of styles and colors to match most exhibit designs and colors. As an exhibitor, you need to decide if you want private or semi-private meeting spaces, whether you need tables, and how you need to structure the space. Keep in mind, you are not creating a lounge for everyone to plop down, answer emails, and check their social media. It’s for business and business conversations.
BTW – Don’t let anyone tell you that booths should never have furniture because it will encourage your staff to sit and do nothing. That’s a not a furniture issue. It’s a training issue which indicates that the booth staff doesn’t understand your company’s trade show goals.
5. Power/Charging. Why fight it? Everyone has a smartphone. Some have several, plus a tablet or laptop at the show. And even with the improved battery life of most devices, we’re all power nomads searching for an electrical oasis on the show floor. Be smart. Give them what they want with charging stations. Thankfully, modern charging solutions don’t have to look like something you stole from the airport. There are contemporary bistro, coffee, and meeting tables along with standalone charging kiosks. All with branding options that complement your overall graphic theme. Many include both USB and wireless charging options. Many are available for purchase or to rent. See a wide selection HERE.
Gone are the days when you exhibitors could rely on bold graphics and an attractive exhibit to draw attendees into their booth. Trade shows are more competitive and complex than ever before. You need to understand today’s attendees – what they want and expect and how they decide which exhibitors to visit before and during the show.
Nothing is more important than quality touches with a potential client on the show floor. Creating an atmosphere that’s welcoming, inviting, and entertaining is a step in the right direction to win the heart and mind of your next big customer.
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.
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. That trend is your opportunity in 2020.
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, 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 with sustainable designs at Classic Exhibits.
See below for images of our 10 x 30 booth at EXHIBITORLIVE 2019 which is a finalist for the Portable Modular Awards. Please vote.
Tom Beard, Regional Sales Manager, Classic Exhibits Inc.
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?
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?
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?
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?
makes your designs different?
the eco-friendly materials you use of equal quality and price to standard
We are delighted to announce Michael McCord as the new General Manager of Exhibits Northwest. Exhibits Northwest is a division of Classic Exhibits Inc. Michael brings extensive industry experience to the position as a sales and marketing executive, designer, and operations manager. He will be based in Portland, Oregon supervising the Portland and Seattle offices.
According to Kevin Carty, VP at Classic Exhibits, “I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Michael for more than ten years. To say that we are excited to have him as a part of the Exhibits Northwest and the Classic Family is an understatement. His creativity, professionalism and detailed oriented approach to all aspects of business are a gift. I am looking forward to working together with Michael ON and IN the business that we have all grown to love over the years.”
Michael was kind enough to share his background below.
I am originally from Michigan, but most recently moved from the Chicago area. My wife is a ER Nurse and musician. I have two boys: Jaxton is 9 years old and loves to read, play drums, piano, and of course video games. Elijah is 5 years old and he enjoys Legos, Legos, and Legos …Did I say Legos?
After high school, I studied architectural design and attended film school. I then spent a few years writing and performing music around the country. I enjoy the challenge of creating and innovating on a daily basis, and I believe that is why the trade show industry is so exciting to me.
My trade show experience started as a detailer / designer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After a year, I was offered the chance to help lead the design and manufacturing of eco-friendly exhibits with Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits. In the five years I was with Eco-Systems Displays I progressed from a designer to the VP of Design and Manufacturing. My family and I then accepted an opportunity in the suburbs of Chicago that allowed me to help lead the operations as the General Manager and then President of Evo Exhibits for the last six years.
I am very excited be a part of the Exhibit Northwest team and help them grow into their full potential by serving each client through quality service and innovation.
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.