Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Exhibits Northwest’

Westeros and Trade Shows: Meet Your Game of Thrones Characters as Exhibitors

June 6th, 2019 COMMENTS
Trade Show Exhibitors and The Game of Thrones

Guest Post: Erica Dougherty, Exhibits Northwest Seattle

Yeah yeah, you’ve had enough Game of Thrones analogies, articles, and opinions about how the show ended. Me too. I get it. BUT, bear with me for just ONE MORE because I bet you haven’t read something that compares your favorite characters with — you guessed it — Trade Show Exhibitors!

So, sit back and contemplate who you are, or rather, who you want to be and see if this makes sense — unlike the ending to GoT.

*Spoiler Alert:  Read only if you have finished Game of Thrones, will never watch the show, or some jerk has already spoiled the ending for you.  

In the Order of My Favorite GoT Characters

Arya Stark – Arya exhibitors are underestimated but won’t stand for anyone’s bull. They work hard and hone their skills slowly and wisely, making a list and checking it… over and over. Arya exhibitors reach out to learn from the masters. They take notes and practice until their own skills are formidable, planning seamlessly for victory each step of the way.

They surprise their adversaries and show up fearless to every show and walk away triumphant. But don’t be fooled; they aren’t perfect. They learn from failures. Step-by-step they keep getting better, cleverer, and eventually shatter their competition like a total boss.

Samwell Tarly – OK, so these exhibitors might not always be the front-runner “winners,” but I really love them. They might be a little timid at first and need some hand-holding but, dang, are they loyal. They trust those they deem experts (like their exhibit house professional), and they are generally open to new ideas and strategies.

However, these exhibitors are not pushovers:  they are intelligent and perceptive, so don’t perceive their willingness to follow as a weakness. Their intuition is spot on, and in the end, their steady strategy pays off consistently. They also tend to befriend the right people and create meaningful and lasting professional partnerships — priceless on and off the trade show floor.

Tyrion Lannister – This “wanna be” 50 x50 exhibitor excels in a 10×10 footprint. They are smart and clever, making the best of what they are given. Strategy is their king, and they make wise trade show marketing decisions in the beginning, winning the trust of many big clients. But then, over time, their confidence (and a few bad habits) gets the best of them which leads to dumber and dumber choices as they grow.

They aren’t evil. Just overly confident in their own abilities. But don’t worry, the Tyrion exhibitor is ultimately a strategic player and will wise-up and get it together (by partnering with the right supportive team). Just in time to GROW into a brilliant 20×20 booth. Still not the biggest, but it’s perfect for their awakened goals.

Game of Thrones and Trade Shows

Sansa Stark – Sansa exhibitors are supremely confident, intelligent, skeptical and bold. They exhibit with a honed strategy based on learning from past failures (traumas). They are “under the radar” triumphant in the end and with their own loyal following who will forever be faithful.

Clients stick with them for the long-haul, and their activity in the booth is mostly current customers looking for “what’s new” from their favorite vendor. Oh, and they have a design aesthetic that cannot be beat… their booth will look stunning.

Jon Snow – Essentially, one of these exhibitors is the outcast who really isn’t. Have you ever seen an exhibitor who shows up and their booth looks a little boring on the surface, but darn-it if their booth isn’t the most popular? They are cautious, slow and steady but they listen and make real connections with their booth visitors and loyal clients.

They make bold decisions when necessary but know how to read the room. They choose their shows (battles) wisely and strategize with a team to ultimately create a winning plan. They are humble to a fault and never see all that they could be, allowing others to shine more brightly… visually on the show floor and in business. But they don’t go broke (or dead), so their ROI is impressive.

They may decide to partner with a front-runner, trusting that’s the right thing to do and hoping for mutual success. When it’s proven to them that they are actually better (their clients tell them so), they refuse to believe until they must make the ultimate sacrifice… choosing themselves to WIN (maybe they steal that larger booth space from their partner… gasp!). But it’s OK:  their fans are supportive and loyal.

Game of Thrones and Trade Shows

Daenerys Targaryen – Imagine these exhibitors were start-up companies at first and then with the help of a few huge investors, grew BIG, fast. They began with nothing and were perceived as weak and easily taken advantage of. But then, (born out of fire) they shoot out into the industry with the biggest dragon of them all… MONEY. They spare no expense, and they have it all: formidable assets (killer booth and amazing swag) and an army of booth staff in matching shirts.

They are coming for a fight with the confidence to win. And they do win… until they break. Emotions get the best of their strategy and something bad happens. Can they recover? Hmmm…

Cersei and Jaime Lannister – Cersei exhibitors think they are ruling the show floor and take no help or compromise from anyone. Other exhibitors sense their arrogance and are out to attack and overcome this misguided leader. Their “twin,” maybe a sister-company (ok, brother, but that’s not the colloquial term), is along for the ride and follows the lead. This sister (brother) company may have a wandering eye seeing what others do and their success, but ultimately stays loyal to their leader, for better or for worse.

This talented hero is known by all the land, but all of a sudden, that fame is taken swiftly and #thestruggleisreal. These exhibitors once had it all, fame, fortune and literally the world in both of their hands (ha ha), but when they least expected it, someone took their most valuable asset (maybe their biggest client?) and now they feel lost. Loyalties realign, and a new beginning is on the horizon… but old habits die hard and well… the end.

Ok, I think that’s enough. I could go on and on, but with over 150 main characters in Game of Thrones, we’d be here literally until Winter. On that note: Ready for one last GoT cliché? Winter is Coming. And in the #TradeShowLife, Winter is the TIMELINE.

Your show is coming and planning ahead is the only way to defeat the White Walkers = RUSH FEES. Knowing this… I think GoT got at least one thing right. #AryaStark

Erica Dougherty, Exhibits Northwest, erica@exhibitsnw.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

2018 Odyssey Foods Custom Island Exhibit

December 31st, 2018 COMMENTS

Custom Exhibit Designed by Exhibits Northwest

While there were many exciting projects in 2018, the custom Odyssey Foods Island for Exhibits Northwest, Inc. was one of our favorites. The “Wow!” factor is off the charts. The exhibit debuted at Seafood Expo North America 2018

This modern 20 x 30 Island Cafe included retail food service with seating and food sampling. The 16 ft. compound curved tower, clad in reclaimed wood planks and recessed ivy trim with large halo lit dimensional logos, served as the visual anchor.

The booth was equipped with a large commercial freezer, custom chef station with a curved metal counter top, and pendant lighting suspended from wood frame laminated canopy. The exhibit had a custom fresh food display and raised platform decking with seating flanked by large backlit branding and literature displays. 

The space was capped with a twenty ft. diameter tension fabric hanging sign for maximum visual presence. The project was built by Classic Exhibits

Custom Exhibit for Odyssey Foods. Design by Exhibits Northwest. Build by Classic Exhibits Inc.

Custom Exhibit for Odyssey Foods. Design by Exhibits Northwest. Build by Classic Exhibits Inc.

Custom Exhibit for Odyssey Foods. Design by Exhibits Northwest. Build by Classic Exhibits Inc.

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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.

Meet Michael McCord, Exhibits Northwest GM

April 29th, 2018 1 COMMENT

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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.

Michael McCord

Michael_2I 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.

For questions or comments, you can reach Michael at mmccord@exhibitsnw.com.

–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. 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.

Erica Dougherty from Exhibits Northwest Shares Client Feedback

April 13th, 2018 1 COMMENT

EricaBlogHeader

Erica Dougherty, an Account Executive at Exhibits Northwest Seattle, connects with her clients because she takes the time to get to know them and their business. That extends to feedback after a show, which is invaluable.

According to Erica, “My client, Darryl at DF/Net Research, is wonderful about sending feedback and kudos to me/us. He has allow me to share his success stories which may be beneficial to other Classic Distributors. Below are two emails from two shows, along with photos.”

DF/Net Email #1

Hi Erica,

Looking forward to it. As you know this was our first trade show – the Society of Clinical Data Managers in Orlando. We didn’t really know what to expect, and wondered if it would be worth it. Was it? Absolutely.

The new VP of Global Clinical Operations from a long time software client (10 years) came to that conference by himself unknown to his staff. He was shopping for new data management software to replace our system. In fact, he had gone 6 months down a path with a large global competitor – a competitor with > $1B in revenue.

He stopped by our booth for a demo and a chat. I gave him a 30 minute demo, and we took him to dinner. He was really excited about our current software – his company was using a version that was about 7 years behind. We talked about modernization, moving their company forward, and having DF/Net take a larger role with his company to provide services and software. And talked about how much sense it made to stay with the modern version of our software rather than switch to an unknown.

Long story short we just signed a contract for services worth $800K over 13 months. And they are continuing their $100K/year software license. They have studies through 2028, so we can think long term on both services and software.

The take-home message? Did we get new clients? Yet to be determined. Did we get new business? Yes. And the most important thing we learned was that your current clients attend trade shows routinely. There are many shiny happy people there trying to take your business away. If we had not gone, I’m sure that at some point in the next  year or two they would simply have told us they were not renewing their software license.

We also learned that you can have a booth that competes with the $1B companies. But regardless, it’s the people at the booth that make the difference. Just be yourself. I was amazed how many competitors hire “show people” that look good, but don’t know anything. The booth is your chance to make decision makers make a decision right on the spot.

Oh, and the $1B competitor? We got a call from them saying that they had a major client looking to use our software, but they had zero inhouse expertise. Would we be willing to partner with them and subcontract the work? No, we were not.

That’s our success story. Thanks for all of the great help on the booth!

–Darryl

Other

DF/Net Email #2

Hi Erica,

We just had another trade show in San Francisco last month – I wanted to share that your lunch and learn tips were helpful. In particular, don’t eat at the booth, don’t check your phone or email, and always look engaged.

I’ve attached a photo taken of the booth next to us. Problem #1 was that 2/3rds of their booth didn’t show up. But even then they spent the entire time sitting behind their desk looking down at their computer and/or phone. During lunch when the most prospects were walking the floor, they were busy munching on their food. With my new awareness I noted that no one approached during the busiest time of the day. Hope they enjoyed their $12,500 lunch….

I think we had about 5x the foot traffic and interactions than they did.

We also had continued success with our charity cards, I think I may have mentioned these before:

https://www.tisbest.org/

Jim acted as the “speedbump” with the cards to engage passers. A charity card has a better story (and one that takes more than 1 second to explain) than perhaps a water bottle or USB stick.

Thanks again for the tips. It’s an ongoing learning experience.

–Darryl

Please let Erica know if you found these helpful (erica@exhibitsnw.com). She would love to hear stories and feedback from your clients as well.

–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. 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.