We are delighted to announce the publication of “What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? A Humorous Guide to Effective Trade Show Marketing.” This guide takes a lighthearted approach to understanding the mysteries of trade show and exhibition marketing.
For most marketing professionals, trade shows represent one of their biggest challenges. Far too often, exhibitors waste a lot of money learning how to be successful at a trade show or exhibition. This book removes some of the mystery and pain. Sort of like getting a root canal while under the influence of laughing gas.
Tim Patterson of TradeshowGuy Exhibits recently reviewed the book saying, “As an introduction to tradeshow marketing, or as a refresher if you’ve been exhibiting for years, What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? is a great addition to any marketing library. Highly recommended!” Click here to see the full review.
What Zombies Can Teach Us About Trade Show Marketing
To many trade show folks, Classic Exhibits is still a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. It’s time to untangle the mystery. This month, we’re featured in Exhibit City News, online and in print. In the article, we explain our unique “unbranded” business model.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Classic Exhibits but don’t know all they do. Mel White, VP for marketing and business development, describes the Portland, Ore.-based company “as a chameleon that not only changes its colors, but also its shape. Repeatedly.” Every four to five years the company morphs into something different based on the needs of its more than 200 distributor partners and their customers.
So, who is Classic Exhibits right now? That depends upon who you ask—and what they need.
According to White, “Our customers come to us for a broad range of solutions. In short, we’re a job shop for over 200 distributor partners who assist their customers with tradeshows, retail displays, events and corporate environments, both for purchase and rental. We accomplish that as a ‘White Label, Unbranded’ designer and builder that’s largely invisible to end-users but not to the tradeshow and event industry. Our mission has always been to prioritize our customers’ brands in the marketplace, not only with unique designs, but also with brandable marketing tools.”
Founded in 1993, Classic started as a portable systems company, then a modular-hybrid supplier and now a design and builder of 3D structures. Currently, about 75 percent of what the company builds and ships can be classified as custom or customized. Nothing gets pulled from a shelf and shipped, even rentals. “We’re not that kind of company,” according to White. “We build to the order, stage each one, take extensive photos and create job-specific setup instructions and customized reusable packaging.”
Classic has been remarkably adept at identifying trends and creating tradeshow and event-specific solutions. Those include modular iPad and Surface stands, wireless charging stations, counters, pedestals and kiosks and tool-less LED lightboxes with accessories like tablet brackets, literature holders and adjustable shelves.
Most recently, their evolution has included modular wall systems, like the tool-less Gravitee One-Step. “As modular wall systems have come to the forefront,” says White, “we’ve worked hard to introduce new designs on Exhibit Design Search. One of the benefits of a large distributor network is identifying successful designs quickly and making them available to our partners. For example, the blending of modular walls, custom components and LED lighting has been very popular. Every week we introduce new designs to our network through our Design Monday emails.”
According to Executive VP Kevin Carty, “Invisibility often comes with misunderstandings and misconceptions about who we are and what we do. We’ve never been a Portland or Northwest-focused company. From the very beginning, we’ve relied on independent distributor partners for our sales since we don’t sell direct. This wasn’t unusual in the past, but the model has become less common as our competitors have either disappeared or chosen to sell direct to end-users. In some ways, we are the last company standing that honors that model.”
Classic’s “White Label” model includes, at the distributor’s request, branded crates, instructions and mailing labels with the distributor or end-user’s logo.
Carty, who has been with the company since its inception, has watched it grow to 85 employees across four divisions, encompassing 120,000 sq.ft. outside of Portland, Ore., that uses five internal web cameras to share the progress of exhibits from design to finish with customers.
Click HERE to read the full article in Exhibit City News.
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.
Find success on the trade show floor with an exhibit that reflects your marketing message… at a price that will make your CFO giddy. For more information, see http://www.classicexhibits.com.
There are Three Types of Trade Show Exhibit Rentals: Rejects, Reruns, and Remarkables. All rentals depend on the exhibit supplier’s inventory and willingness to customize. So what’s the difference?
Rejects: These are instantly recognizable as traditional rental designs from the GSC show manual. They are built from battered aluminum extrusion and Sintra graphic inserts. They are ugly, ineffective, and increasingly being replaced by modern modular wall systems.
Reruns: Many rental designs now use modular wall systems. A very positive trend. Unfortunately, the designs depend on the supplier’s inventory, which is often limited. That means choosing from a narrow selection of inline and island configurations which are repeated again and again on the show floor. It’s a step up, but not a custom rental.
Remarkables: Customized rental designs are the exception since they depend on a large rental inventory, custom manufacturing, and design flexibility. They are generally indistinguishable from a purchase exhibit, since they are personalized to the exhibitor’s marketing requirements. They can be more expensive, but even that depends on the rental supplier and the exhibitor’s willingness to commit to multiple rentals.
Just because a supplier has a rental option, it doesn’t guarantee their rental inventory supports “remarkable” designs. Ask questions. Request designs. See photos of past rental projects. Finally, don’t fall in love too quickly. You deserve to date a few unremarkable candidates before committing to a long-term relationship.
Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, custom, and 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.
Recently, I conducted two Exhibit Design Search webinars via Go To Webinar. Below is one of those recorded sessions for anyone unable to attend the live event, or simply for any Classic Distributor who wants a better understand of how to navigate EDS quickly and efficiently.
Become an EDS Warrior!
In this one-hour Exhibit Design Search Boot Camp, you’ll learn the essential skills to attack every opportunity with ruthless precision and speed. You’ll discover how to execute an efficient #sales strategy by finding and sharing #exhibit designs, marketing tips, setup instructions, and photos.
Every mission requires a plan to succeed, and EDS Boot Camp will give you the tools and knowledge necessary to accomplish your goals. Invest an hour. You’ll use the skills you learn for years to come. BE ALL YOU CAN “EDS” BE! — Questions? Contact Mel White (email@example.com)
We are all members of specialized sub-groups, each with its own rules and etiquette. Think quilters, railroad model builders, woodworkers, or even college sports fans. Trade shows are no different whether you are an exhibitor, attendee, or an industry insider. While many behaviors might seem normal to you as a member of the trade show community, others are downright bizarre to those who rarely set foot in a trade show hall.
With the assistance of my colleagues, I’ve compiled a list of 40Things You Do @ Trade Shows You Would Never Do Anywhere Else. It was actually much longer, but this is a PG-rated blog.
Drinking doesn’t count. We know you drink. You just don’t always start at lunch. And for the sake of discretion (and possible litigation), we’ve ignored trade shows in CO, WA, OR, and now CA. Don’t pretend you don’t know why.
Feel free to contribute via the comments section. And enjoy!
40 Things You Would Never Do Anywhere Else
Throw trash in the aisle and expect others to clean it up
Spend $8.50 for a 12 oz. bottle of Aquafina
Bribe someone to look the other direction. Brag about it later
Have Accounting panic because you just max-out your credit card on one transaction (drayage perhaps?)
Wear matching unisex clothing
Take anything that appears to have a value of less than $10 (candy, hats, pens, mugs…)
Share “steamy” industry gossip with competitors
Chat with 500 strangers in 72 hours
Gush about the double-padded carpet in booth #1108
Buy a gaudy new belt in the casino shop for $165 (after forgetting to pack one)
Party until 3 am with Steve in Accounting, Larry in HR, Melissa in Engineering, and Rebecca in Quality Control
Bum breath mints from strangers
Arrive at work at 11 am. Leave at 3:30 pm
Get agitated when someone walks across the corner of your booth space
Take a Lyft to Lowe’s or Best Buy at 9 am
Pretend you don’t smell that awful face-melting smell
Debate the existential meaning of portable, modular, and custom
Act interested in (insert topic)
Complain about how much it costs to vacuum 400 sq. ft. of carpet. Vow to do something about it
Allow strangers to take your stuff without a receipt for three days and not know where it is, how it’s getting stored (or if it will be returned undamaged), and that you have zero ability to get it back early.
Let someone point a scanning device or smartphone camera in the general vicinity of your chest and crotch. Repeatedly.
Be convinced a 15-minute conversation will lead to $500,000 in new business
Assemble a 3D structure that costs somewhere between a new car and a McMansion, only to disassemble it three days later
Spend 20% of your entire annual marketing budget over five days. Never calculate the ROI
Compare the work ethic in Philadelphia, Boston, NYC, Chicago, Orlando, Anaheim, San Francisco, and Las Vegas to the work ethic in your hometown. Vow to do something about it.
Hang your dress shirt in the bathroom with the shower running for 30 minutes to steam out the wrinkles
Explain, once again, to your family and friends that it’s a “business trip” and not a vacation
Get visibly excited about the phrase “traffic congestion”
Guard your giveaways like a momma bear (Day #1). Beg show labor to take them in bulk (Day #3)
Sneak off to the bathroom just to find a quiet place to work
Hide in a storage closet to scarf down a Starbuck’s scone, while dusting your co-workers coats, purses, and briefcases with gooey crumbs
Judge people based solely on their name badge
Convince your boss that the 300 fishbowl leads are new clients clamoring for your product (and not the iPad giveaway)
Pretend the President’s son is not still drunk. Allow him to talk to potential clients and competitors (I know I said I wouldn’t include drinking but this one was too good to exclude)
Spend 3 days with 100 of your best friends and not speak or see them again for 362 days
Fly from the Midwest in January to Las Vegas, Orlando, or New Orleans and NEVER leave the hotel/convention center complex
Reintroduce yourself to the same person three times. Act embarrassed
Toss the sales literature you carefully collected over three days so there’s more room for tschotskes. Pretend it’s for your children
Be REALLY, REALLY EXCITED to leave Las Vegas or Orlando!
Finally… Wonder (after scanning the room and mumbling quietly to yourself) why the Federal Government hasn’t filed RICO charges against certain segments of the trade show industry. Vow to do something about it.
That’s it. Please share your “Trade Show Things” below. And thanks for playing along.
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.