Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Exhibits Northwest’

Erica Dougherty | A Discussion about Personal Branding and Business

January 11th, 2018 COMMENTS

Erica

What is Personal Branding?

Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. Branding has reached a new level  because of the rise of the Internet. The growth of the virtual world created the necessity of managing online identities. [Wikipedia]

Personal branding isn’t about coming up with a complicated strategy. Rather, it’s about knowing who you are and what you stand for, and then finding ways to make that visible. It’s about amplifying your skills and passions, which is key to rising up in the messy middle. [Forbes]

I am fascinated by personal branding as a marketing strategy. And it’s not as if it is a new concept. In its most basic form, it’s just Public Relations. What has changed is the democratization of branding with the Internet and Social Media. We all follow and/or connect with people who have established a personal brand. Some are famous. Some semi-famous. Others are part of our business or social circle.

Recently, I asked Erica Dougherty, an Account Executive at Exhibits Northwest Seattle, about her strategy of personal branding. From the photos, you can tell it’s distinctive, creative, and memorable. It’s also genuine as you’ll discover in the interview below.

Who is Erica and where did that pink hair come from? 

E-withPen2Obviously, the hair is natural! No really… it is. It should just grow out of my head this way, but it doesn’t, so I help it out “a little.” I am a designer by education/past life, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design, so I’ve always been dialed into trends and design-life. Sales and Marketing are both large parts of my background in various forms and should work in tandem. Social media, quite obviously, has forced us all to be personal branding experts; we all do it whether we mean to or not and it can be for the good of our personal brand… or not.

Intentional self-branding must be strategic, but I won’t pretend that my own was strategic: it sort of happened organically. When my hair became fully pink (it was a gradual transition), it wasn’t as popular of a trend as it is now. I would show up to networking events, and it seemed to be how people naturally remembered me from one event to the next. That was my ah-ha moment — the Pink Hair is a part of ME now. Might as well use it to my advantage!

How have you used your identity to your benefit in the business of trade show exhibit sales?

Exhibit Design Project by Exhibits Northwest

Recent Lightbox Project for Headset

I’m definitely more than my pink hair. Some would say I have a big personality too. I’m truly an extrovert, ready to talk to anyone. I suppose I’m easily approachable because I tend to make friends where ever I go. It drives my husband crazy sometimes. However, I believe successful salespeople should be memorable in some way, something positive that people remember about them that makes them unique. The pink hair concept just found me and it works. The whimsical pink hair is paired with my friendly, professional, and authentic self, thus (hopefully) it doesn’t seem unbusinesslike.

It’s all about balance. But being a little out-of-the-box does help specifically in our industry. Trade show exhibits are NOT something an individual really ever needs (like insurance, for instance), and not something companies purchase every day. It is my job to be sure that if there’s someone in Seattle tasked with sourcing a new trade show exhibit for their company, that they think, “Oh, I know someone!” and give me a call at Exhibits Northwest. So, HOW do you guarantee you are top-of-mind and easy to contact? Repetition, knowledge, memorable appearance and obviously, a bobble-head pen with my contact info on their desk!

So what is your strategy to be top-of-mind?

For the first year of in-person marketing efforts, I have be actively engaged in local Seattle networking events and groups. People remember me from event-to-event (and I remember them… that’s super important too!). Thus I am slowly infiltrating their memory and instilling a positive perception of Exhibits Northwest. Some new business has resulted from my efforts, in addition to event marketing opportunities and community sponsorships in 2018. Each of these is an opportunity to be in front of hundreds of local business representatives. Ironically, much like that face-to-face relationship building that trade shows provide.

Late 2017, my strategy evolved finally when I began planning for my first “Lunch + Learn” and wanted something as a leave-behind. The answer was on my desk for a year — a swag silly bobble-head pen given to me by a wonderful client (from a trade show).

What’s the pen’s story?

BobbleHeaderPenThe blue pen with a giant smile and orange troll-doll hair sat on my desk for about a year, making me smile. It’s just weird and funny, especially coming from my client, QCash Financial. Yep, a silly bobble-head pen from a digital lending company. Seattle’s WeWork locations (which are full of growing new businesses, likely many never or novice trade show exhibitors) are perfect locations to start my Trade Show Marketing 101 Lunch + Learns. I really enjoy working with Trade Show newbies and helping them find success.

What I needed was a fun, memorable and personal take-away,  a small token of thank you swag. I brainstormed ideas, but then it hit me. I should give out a mini-ME, pink hair and all. Each time I give one out, I am sure to say, “It’s ME!” Hopefully, she’ll sit on your desk, waiting for that moment when the trade show booth is registered and the “What’s next?” happens. Me. I’m next. Call me. I’m your trade show support, ready to help!

Where do you go from here?

First quarter 2018 is already filling up with scheduled Lunch + Learns in Seattle, plus other networking events. I’ll toss a few pens in my bag and go! It’s all about awareness, so my continued goal is repeating Exhibits Northwest in conversation, being me, and getting a mini-me pen on as many desks as I can! (Well, my first order was 150 pens, so we’ll start there!) These pens are certainly not the quick answer to gaining tons of new business… but they certainly make the process more fun.

Thanks Erica. How can you to contact Erica, whether you need a banner stand or custom island exhibit? You can reach her at www.exhibitsnw.com or erica@exhibitsnw.com. You can also find her at her LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/in/erica-dougherty-7431ab110/). You’ll recognize the distinctive pink hair.

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

John Zipay Takes an Alaskan Cruise

August 24th, 2016 COMMENTS

alaska!

Recently, I took a much needed vacation from the trade show world and visited southeastern Alaska via a cruise ship.

Spending a day at sea heading out of Seattle was perfect for clearing my head of the constant stresses that we all live with each and every day. The soothing calmness of the water and the subtle waves rocking this ship ever so slightly was ideal to catch up on reading and much needed rest. This was the perfect setting for me to reflect on the first half of this year and my life overall (which is pretty fantastic).

Ketchikan

Upon arriving in Ketchikan, Alaska, I noticed the sea planes taking off and landing. I thought to myself, “I bet they don’t miss waiting in line at red lights during their commute to and from work” or worse yet “waiting through green lights when your vehicle doesn’t quite have the space to inch across the intersection without blocking the cars perpendicular to you.” Nope, Alaskans don’t stress such a thing. In fact, red lights themselves are probably few and far between.

What do they stress about up here? In all of the rugged, raw beauty, everywhere I looked, there must be a catch. The COLD! Yes, the cold harsh Alaskan winters must be horrible and miserable with most of the non-winter months spent planning winter survival and keeping warm. Whew, for a brief second I thought I found paradise and the simple life, a stress free happily-ever-after place, free of all of the industry-related trade show variables and issues that arise every day in our world. Moving to Alaska would bring on a life stressing the COLD.

Would that be so bad? How cold does it really get? I set about investigating this thought over an Alaska Stout beer near the pier. Beer would surely help ease the pains of winter in this part of the world! Problem solved – a stress free life surely awaits me in Alaska! Time to hop back on my floating hotel for the week and find a place to fantasize about living in.

Next Stop Juneau

I was excited to visit Juneau by the time we arrived. I had heard of a glacier, Mendenhall, that was only a short bus ride away. As we made the trek through the quaint little town of Juneau, our bus driver spoke of all the wonderful bears, eagles, and salmon that called the area home. He advised us to take the Nugget Trail up the falls for a better view of the glacier.

Upon exiting the bus, I grabbed my day backpack and approached the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in search of the trail. Never mind the visitor center. I wanted to see the chunk of ice!!

In my typical turbo style, I hiked the 1.1 mile trail in a handful of minutes with my heart racing and adrenaline pumping the whole way. Wow! An amazing and jaw dropping view as I came to the end of the hike. So much beauty with the whole spectrum of the color blue on display along with an impressive waterfall right next to me. Like a child, I had to bend over and touch the water to see how cold it really was. As I bent down, a small mini iceberg lapped up on shore and I shouted with excitement! I picked up that football sized piece and took a few pics with my very own baby iceberg. After spending a half hour or so enjoying the gaze, I headed back down the trail to the visitor center.

This time I actually went inside the visitor center and was astonished to learn that the Visitor Center was built right in front of Mendenhall Glacier in the 1930s. The photos on the wall looked like a different piece of ice. Today, the glacier is over a mile away and has been shrinking at a furious pace over the last 60+ years. The lake in front of the glacier didn’t exist when the Visitor Center was built. GULP!

Climate Change

At that moment, all the talk of climate change became a reality. A huge lump formed in the back of my throat as I witnessed first-hand what climate change means. It means a lot for Alaskans. Their environment is experiencing more drastic effects than what we are experiencing in the lower 48 states. I thought that I had found a paradise with a life involving only a little bit of stress (staying warm during the winter Alaskan months), but in reality, Alaskans are stressed about the rapid change occurring in their environment. As I became more aware of the impacts that they are feeling, I began to sympathize with them and wondered how can I really help the situation. I’m not going to turn into a tree hugging, save the planet hippie, but I will surely think twice about my footprint on this planet.

In our industry, we can certainly help steer clients towards eco-friendlier exhibit options. At Exhibits Northwest, we offer recyclable fabrics for our displays and use recycled aluminum. I’ll end my sales pitch and invite you to peruse the photos in this post. Yes, a Caribbean cruise is nice, but I encourage you to take the Alaskan trip soon. The clock is ticking….

John Zipay
GM, Exhibits Northwest Portland and Seattle

2015 Annual State of the Company Letter

January 5th, 2016 COMMENTS

AnnualLetterblogHeader

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I know I did! It included nap time on the couch — something I rarely get these days.

We started the year on an upswing with a record-breaking Q1 across all divisions at Classic, including ENW, ClassicMODUL, and Rentals. There were several promising trends — some new, others cultivated in 2012-2014 but coming to fruition in 2015.

EDPA

EDPA Booth

Lightboxes were HUGE — literally! All year, inlines and islands seemed naked without a SEGUE lightbox. Our designers found new and creative ways to add light, whether as a backlit feature or using LED perimeter lights in counters, workstations, and accessories. This extended into Corporate and Retail Environments as well.

To meet this expanding need, Classic developed two new profiles:  a single-sided option for walls and a remarkably thin double-sided option for freestanding lightboxes. If you attended EDPA Access, you saw them both in our booth.

Custom Wood Fabricated Exhibits. Easily the largest growth segment for Classic Manufacturing. We joked that Classic Exhibits has become the largest, most invisible custom builder in North America.  And that’s just fine. Never has our unbranded approach been so valuable. Each and every day we build Custom Exhibits showcasing YOUR brand on crates and setup instructions.

With a heavy focus on design and the use of our CNC shop, Classic builds custom exhibits for our Modular/Hybrid Distributors as well as our Custom Distributors who turn to us when they don’t have the time or capacity to build an exhibit. This has been a very welcome and creative challenge to the Classic staff.

Pokemon

Pokémon World Championships Retail Space

Retail Displays and Corporate Environments. Our work in the Retail and Corporate Environments continues to grow as our Distributors look beyond trade shows. The three largest examples were the Pokemon World Championships Retail Space, The Bonneville Power Administration Visitors Center, and our work inside the Nike Campus.

But it doesn’t stop there. We have open bids on several new corporate environments and are currently building an interactive space within a Midwest car dealership.

Patting Ourselves on the Back. At EXHIBITORLIVE, Classic Exhibits, Eco-Systems Sustainable, and several Classic Distributors were honored with five nominations for the Portable Modular Awards.

Pacifica

2015 PMA Winner Island less than 400 s.f.

Just being nominated is amazing… but we also WON two awards! Classic took home the prize for Best Island Design (400 sq. ft.) and Eco-Systems won best 10 x 10. Both a testament to the beautiful work of our talented Designers!

As if that was not enough, Event Marketer named us one of the Top 50 Manufactures in North America for the third straight year. The award speaks to the amazing work of our Production and Project Management teams!

We have three finalists in this year’s upcoming PMA’s. Be sure to vote for your favorite at the People’s Choice Voting.

Education. Whether in life or work, education is the key to success. Classic Exhibits’ Shared Knowledge University provides a platform for valuable education in our professional worlds. In 2015 we held two SKU sessions. The groups learned about Classic, our people, our products, and our great WEIRD Portlandia home. This year included a new twist… a trip to Cartlandia, one of Portland’s idiosyncratic food cart pods that make Portland… well Portland.

SKU benefited from the participation of great partners and speakers:  Optima Graphics, Cort Furnishings, Display SKUSupply and Lighting, 3 Dog Write, Tim Patterson (The TradeshowGuy) and Pinky Gonzales, the LinkedIn Specialist. They all helped to make Content King at SKU.

Over 65 students earned bachelor degrees, and a few earned graduate degrees. Our congratulations to our first Ph.D. — Dr. Cody. Contact Reid or Jen about attending in May.

Speaking of Reid and Jen. Reid Sherwood and Jen LaBruzza, our resident Road Warriors, hit the streets hard in 2015 visiting distributors, conducting onsite training, and generally spreading joy. If you missed them last year, they have very busy travel schedules in 2016.

Expect them to share news about New Product releases (more on that coming), Exhibit Design Search training, and your needs.

Distributor Visits. I have been doing this for 22 years and 2015 was a record year for distributor visits at Classic. Looking back at my calendar, we averaged a visit about every two weeks. Many were scheduled around client previews of large exhibit builds. Others arranged their own private one-on-one Distributor training — a mini-SKU if you will.

I appreciate these visits so much since I don’t travel much anymore due to my family’s schedule — 9 yr. old twins are BUSY. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce Distributors to our great staff/family at Classic. They’re the people who really make things happen, the folks you don’t see at EXHIBITORLIVE or other industry events.

Please know that our doors are always open. We welcome your visits with or without your clients. And our staff loves meeting you all as well. It helps seal the relationship they have developed with you all over the phone. Not to mention our food, wine, and craft beers are best experienced in person.

rental

Rental Project from 2015

Rental Growth. Classic Rental Solutions continued its double-digit growth. And it’s really no surprise. Jim Shelman and his crew do what others “can’t” or simply are “unwilling” to do in a rental solution. I love walking through their area to see what they are building. So much of it is as custom as what we are doing on the new build side.

Congrats to the entire CRS team on their growth. It speaks to your ongoing dedication to the service and solutions that customers expect… and often exceeding those expectations.

Strong Sales.
In 2015 we experienced increases across the board at the Classic Family of Companies, including a record Q1, Q2, and Q3. Q4 is yet to be determined.

I would humbly suggest two reasons for our growth.

1. Classic Distributors tapped into our designers earlier in the sales process. By using them as YOUR designer on the initial calls with the clients, we saw our close ratio increase three-fold.

2. More distributors visiting Classic or attending SKU. There is this “moment” when someone steps into our manufacturing plant. It’s tangible and it’s hard to explain fully, but somehow it seems to validate everything that person has heard or been told by Reid, Jen, Mel, Jim, or myself over the years. They see our process, our capabilities, and our people.

Exhibit Design Search (EDS). Last year brought multiple changes to EDS. All of which were geared to make your sales process easier. Some of the highlighted changes/additions include

  • Modified Navigation
  • Easier Sort Feature
  • Expanded My Gallery-Kits, Photos and tips now can be added to your galleries
  • Home Page Redesign – including larger images
  • Printable Product sheets on most product lines
  • A NEW Gallery coming in Early 2016…VERY VERY Exciting!
100DayGuarantee

100-Day Return Guarantee

BELIEVE IT – 100 Day Return Guarantee. In 2015 Classic introduced a 100-Day Return Guarantee on Sacagawea, Perfect 10, Quadro, and FGS.  It was an easy decision since we build it right the first time! We’re proud to be the first company in the exhibit industry to offer this guarantee.

Association Participation. EDPA and E2MA are a key part of the Classic Exhibits’ DNA. I sit on the Board of Directors for The Exhibit Designers and Producers Association while Mel sits on the Board of Directors for the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association and serves as the Treasury Chair. Both associations focus their efforts on the betterment of our industry through Education, Scholarships, Industry Round Tables, and bridging the gaps between the stakeholders in our industry.

I know I speak for Mel when I say we are both very proud of our work in these two associations, and that we are always available to speak to anyone interested in learning more about how they can become more involved.

JZ

John Zipay, Exhibits Northwest, GM

John Zipay (JZ). Classic was excited to add John to our management team in 2015. John is the General Manager of the Exhibits Northwest division of Classic Exhibits which focuses on the Pacific Northwest market.

More than that, John brings a wealth of knowledge to the company with his I&D experience. It’s a perspective we lean on frequently in manufacturing when analyzing a potential exhibit build. His knowledge of the trade show floor has also been beneficial to our distributors when finding the right labor in certain US cities.

Be on the lookout! We are about to launch a new product line. What is it? You will have to wait, but we are close to the formal unveiling. Expect a “soft launch” in late January. You’ll see the full product line at EXHIBITORLIVE. It will change the way you look at building exhibit systems!

Lastly, I offer my sincere thanks to you for being great partners and for supporting the Classic Family. I look forward to working with and seeing you in the coming year.

Be well!

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a


 

Our “Shared Success” Values

November 4th, 2015 COMMENTS

Shared_Success

John Zipay: Six Month Update (or What I Did During My Summer Vacation)

September 4th, 2015 1 COMMENT

JZ

Wow! I can’t believe it has been six months since I joined Classic Exhibits as the General Manager for Exhibits Northwest! Either I have been super busy, or I’m getting older and time is accelerating beyond comprehension. Either way, I wanted to share some insights about my professional life as a newbie at Classic Exhibits.

Where to begin…

The Northwest is fantastically beautiful with postcard views in every direction. The folks are down-to-earth, extremely health, and environmentally conscious. Professionally, my daily challenges haven’t changed very much, and the overall industry feel is more or less the same. Just like you, we use our experience to recommend the best exhibits and services to our customers. We want them to succeed as exhibit marketers, and it’s our goal to be an extension of their business, if they are receptive to this approach. If not, well, then we guide them to an exhibit that meets their trade show or retail needs.

IMG_6747In my previous job, I used Exhibit Design Search, but now that I’m part of Classic, I have a renewed appreciation for this research tool. I am amazed at the vastness of the catalog of exhibits and accessories. I see firsthand how Mel and the Classic Design Department are constantly updating and adding designs, graphic dims, setup instructions, and refining the user experience.

My team at Exhibits Northwest has closed more than a handful of deals simply by walking a client through EDS and identifying elements such as lightboxes, workstations, presentation areas, etc.  On several occasions, the client has chosen an Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibit based solely on design without realizing its eco-friendly benefits. This gives us an opportunity to discuss those benefits. All that would have been far more difficult without EDS.

In my former tradeshow life…

We would personalize a design and then hope our price point was in the ballpark. Next, we would check in periodically and use a call to action (general contractor or advanced warehouse deadline) to nudge the client into making a decision. In my new role with Exhibits Northwest, we take a different approach. Since pricing is visible on EDS, we can confirm a price range based on specific kits or design elements. Then we schedule a time when the prospect can tour Classic’s manufacturing facility with us.

IMG_5813Honestly, I wish every Classic Distributor had the ability to tour Classic Exhibits with their clients. The facility is impressive. Clients see how raw extrusion and wood are transformed into a finished exhibit via production workstations, CNC equipment, and skilled technicians. Each display goes through multiple quality control checkpoints along the way.

Whenever an ENW prospect takes a guided tour, we know at some point we’ll hear, “It’s such a pleasure to see a strong, organized US manufacturing facility in our own backyard.” I then direct their attention to the Peek-a-booth cameras and let them know that they can log-in and watch their exhibit being assembled from their desk.

IMG_0725Make no mistake…

As a former Production Manager at a point-of-purchase display division of Weyerhaeuser Corp in Charlotte, NC, I love seeing an organized, streamlined, and efficient manufacturing facility with highly skilled, motivated laborers producing well-made American products. Classic has the equipment, skilled labor, project management, and design staff to handle any trade show need from an inline Perfect 10 to a large custom island assembled entirely from wood and laminate.

I have worked side-by-side with the heavy hitters in our industry, and I have also worked with small husband and wife companies whose needs are much different than the big kids on the block. I have learned that Classic has the talent to compete with the best skilled custom exhibit builders in the country, yet they can handle the needs of smaller display distributors as well.

With a partner like Classic, I am able to focus on what I was hired to do… manage the culture and growth of Exhibits Northwest! BTW — having a record sales month in August certainly helped the cause!

I would love to hear from you. And I always look forward to meeting Classic Distributors when they visit for a preview or during Shared Knowledge University. The next SKU is November 9-10.  Set aside the dates and I hope to see you then.

John Zipay
GM Exhibits Northwest
jzipay@exhibitsnw.com