[Video Text/Transcript] Hi everyone. This is Mel at Classic Exhibits. I hope you are doing well. It’s February, and we’re three or four weeks away from EXHIBITORLIVE. And for those who just went through the brutal Polar Vortex, I’m sure four days in sunny Las Vegas can’t come soon enough.
We will be there, of course. I believe it’s our 25th year. No misses. This year, Classic will be in 20×30 double-deck. Booth #1623.
As you know, we participate in EXHIBITOR primarily to meet with our Distributor Partners. In other words — YOU. And while end-users visit us as well and we pass those leads along after the show, we are committed to spending as much time as possible with our distributors. Mostly, we want to hear from you. What are you seeing in trends? Suggestions on how Classic can assist you with design, exhibit builds, and marketing. Is there anything missing from our assortment?
This year our booth theme is “Knot Your Typical Exhibit Builder.” That’s “K.N.O.T.” You’ll see the theme, including “knot” puns throughout the space. We will even have a magician in the booth performing knot tricks. RJ, the magician, is knot your typical magic act. Yes, the puns will probably get painful at some point.
So what can you expect from Classic? More of the same, meaning lots of product innovations.For instance, this past year we launched the Gravitee One-Step Lightbox and the Mobile Meeting Pods. You’ll see examples of both in the booth. Our InCharg Charging solutions will now include wireless options, in addition to USB ports.
For us, Custom builds have expanded well beyond trade shows into retail, corporate environments, and even museum work. Our rental sales continue to soar, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Even the Sacagawea Portable line got a refresh with the addition of charging ports and a hostess shelf, features not found on any other portable hybrid.
Other trends? LED Lightboxes in every shape imaginable. Expect a significant change to our LB assembly this spring, which will make SuperNova both the strongest and easiest LB to setup in the industry. Then there’s the allure of video walls. Expect more affordable and accessible video solutions in 2019
If you would like to schedule an appointment, please let us know as soon as possible. In addition, we encourage you to visit us during the Strategic Partner hours on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those hours are always less hectic.
OK, so it’s still winter and maybe you can’t lose your winter coat just yet… but Las Vegas is just around the corner. We look forward to visiting with you. And remember, To Be or Knot to Be, That is the Question for EXHIBITORLIVE. Cheers!
For a free EXHIBITORLIVE Exhibit Hall Pass, Click on the Registration Link and enter #4044. Compliments of your friends at Classic Exhibits.
Jen LaBruzza, the National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits, sure gets around. Let me rephrase that… Jen travels, rather extensively, visiting Classic Distributor Partners, which gives her a unique perspective on industry trends. In addition, she hears from small one or two person distributors and from larger custom houses with over a 1000 employees.
Jen shared her thoughts on the industry and Classic Exhibits in the interview below. Her answer to Q6 is a must read.
Q1. You talk, email, and text with Classic Distributor Partners every day, which makes you the resident Distributor Whisperer. What’s that like?
The fact that I have worked in many facets of our industry really allows me to step into a distributor partner’s shoes. Whether it’s helping a distributor partner come up with a gallery of design ideas or showing up in a hot pink polo shirt on setup to make sure an install is going well, I love helping our distributor partners succeed.
Q2. What do most people get right (or wrong) about Classic Exhibits?
Well… there are two things really they get wrong:
1.That our primary focus is as a portable/modular manufacturer. While we still VERY much pride ourselves on creating the best portable hybrid designs in the industry I think it surprises many people when I tell them that the largest growth segment in our revenue stream is custom, in the purest sense of the industry definition. Log on to our Peek-A-Booth on any given day and you will see the wide variety of projects on our setup floor. It’s ASTOUNDING!
2.That we sell direct. As Kevin mentioned in his State of the Company Letter, we are a non-direct selling company that is largely invisible to end-users. That is by design (although makes Mel’s job harder), and we all believe it’s ALWAYS being about our Distributor Partner’s brands. In so many ways besides, packaging, branded Exhibit Design Searches, and setup instructions. Our Classic Distributor Partners are always a primary focus for what we do as a team and company. It’s in our DNA.
Q3. What was your proudest accomplishments/moments in 2018 as the National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits?
First, being recognized by our industry peers and partners for being #1 in Service and Reliability for all Exhibit Builders in North America. Words can’t even describe the pride I felt accepting that award with Kevin on behalf of Classic Exhibits at EXHIBITORLIVE last year. Second, helping a long-time Distributor Partner win a FANTASTIC project that catapulted their business to the next level. It was one of those A-HA! moments where everything clicks into place and many years of consistent partnership paid off for all.
Q4. At EXHIBITORLIVE 2019, what are the three questions you want attendees or Distributor Partners to ask you about Classic Exhibits?
Why does Classic only sell through Distribution Partners?
What is your favorite Classic Exhibits product and why? Hint: It didn’t just fall from a tree!
Why should I consider Classic Exhibits as a partner for my custom build projects moving into 2019?
Q5. What were the biggest trends you saw in 2018? Any predictions about 2019?
I think the biggest trend was the continued push for custom projects both for trade shows and non-trade shows. Call, email, text me or better yet…come to EXHIBITORLIVE and ask (see #3 above :D). I’m happy to give insight on this value proposition, and how and why you should be leveraging it.
As far as 2019 is concerned, what I have seen on the show floor so far is the continued focus for brands telling their stories with visual engagement. Whether that’s with large video wall presentations, bold use of graphics in lightboxes, or interesting themes and shapes. The limits are constantly extending beyond your traditional exhibits even in inlines.
Creative use of space is VERY in right now! The smart exhibitors are opening up their inline spaces and instead of using the standard 6 ft table, skirt and chairs to “supplement” their backwall, they are adding in bistro height charging tables or lower soft seating. And lightboxes are favorites for those wanting to engage in their inline spaces as well.
Q6. You visit with Distributor Partners all across North America. What advice do you give them when they ask about increasing their sales?
Every market is different, but there are several commonalities for increasing sales in the exhibit/event space.
1. Stop using Rentals as a “Hail Mary”! Lead with purchase and rental options because either way you make money. And if we are all honest with ourselves, rentals gives your a greater opportunity to engage the client show after show.
2.Move away from the commodities. Yes, some customers need them. Yes, some customers will never move beyond them, but that doesn’t mean your business has to stagnate. Don’t shy away from those larger projects because you don’t have in-house capabilities. Lean on us as your manufacturing partner. Which really brings me to…
3. Engage the Classic Exhibits Design Department. The closure rate for projects that have started with a Classic Designer being involved on a discovery call with your client is about 80%. 80%!
Q7. What do many exhibitors not understand about trade shows?
This is face-to-face marketing people! Which means you need to engage people. Don’t think that you can show up and stand in your booth and wait for people to walk in and ask questions. Say hello, offer them some candy, have a charging table where they can charge their phone while you give them your elevator pitch. Looping a video is GREAT! But again, smile, say hello, don’t just let the video do the talking. There is no substitution for that one-on-one interaction. And for god’s sake, please don’t EAT in your booth!
Q8. Rentals have become more popular over the past six years. Any idea why?
Flexibility and budget! Many trade show budgets have become quarterly spends vs. annual capital expenditures. A custom exhibit rental gives exhibitors the flexibility of staying on budget while still meeting their trade show marketing goals. Plus, they are able to try different things, repeating graphics that work, or modifying a design to better engage their attendees.
And if we are truly honest with ourselves, as trade show sales people, an exhibit rental gives us more opportunities to interact with a customer as their need becomes quarterly or annual vs. every three years for a purchase.
2019 is going to be an EXCITING Year! We are proud of every. single. opportunity we get from our Distributor Partners. Thank YOU for trusting us with your business!
Visit Classic Exhibits Inc. at www.classicexhibits.com. You can contact Jen LaBruzza, National Sales Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her at EXHIBITORLIVE in Booth #1623. Use Code 4044 when registering for a FREE show hall pass.
Please join Classic Exhibits in supporting Spread the Word Nevada, a literacy program that provides at-risk students with books to call their own. Donations from the EXHIBITORLIVE community have provided books for hundreds of children, and we are just getting started!
Bring your new or gently-used books (pre-K through 5th grade reading level) to the collection bin in The Square at EXHIBITORLIVE, or submit a donation using this form. Thank you!
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