Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Trade Show Marketing’

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

How to Win the Hearts and Minds of Trade Show Attendees

May 29th, 2019 COMMENTS
Wining the Hearts and Minds of Any Trade Show Attendee

Trade shows can be brutal for 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.

The 5 essentials to any trade show booth

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. 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.

Charging Stations for Trade Shows and Events

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.  

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

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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.

New Unbranded “Under” Brochures

April 29th, 2019 COMMENTS
Unbranded Literature from Classic Exhibits

Did you know that Classic creates unbranded marketing literature as PDFs for our Distributor Partners? One of those is the “Under Sheets” which shows Classic Exhibits designs under certain prices, like Under $6K or $12K. Recently, we updated these sheets (except the Under $2K and $4K).

Below are examples, including the NEW Islands Under $60K. Click on the images below to download the latest unbranded PDF set (10 pages). The $2K and $4K will be available in early June.  

CLICK To DOWNLOAD the NEWEST “Under” Literature

NEW Unbranded Literature from Classic Exhibits

The Branded and Unbranded Versions of Exhibit Design Search

April 24th, 2019 COMMENTS
Exhibit Design Search

Exhibit Design Search, the award-winning display search from Classic Exhibits, offers multiple branded and unbranded versions.

Branded and Unbranded

There’s the Classic version at www.classicexhibits.com in addition to two unbranded versions: www.exhibit-design-search.com (w/ prices) and www.exhibitdesignsearch.com (w/o prices). Many Classic Distributors have branded EDS websites with customized graphics, pricing, URL’s, and contact-specific tools. See below for a summary of the features and benefits of each version. For more details, contact Mel White in the Marketing Department.

An Interview with Jim Shelman, GM of Classic Rental Solutions

January 5th, 2019 COMMENTS

Interview with Jim Shelman at Classic Rental Solutions

Trade Show Rentals have undergone a seismic shift not only in design but also in sales. And, this trend will continue in 2019 and beyond. This week, we chatted with Jim Shelman, the General Manager of Classic Rental Solutions. So what should you expect as an exhibitor or a Classic Exhibits Distributor Partner? More of the same, which is a VERY GOOD THING. 

Q1. You’ve been in the Rental Exhibits space for over 20 years. What’s different now than say 6-8 years ago?

A lot of things have changed, but there are two things that really stand out to me as major changes. One, is the implementation of customization to rental designs. Almost every order we produce includes some element of customization to provide specific needs that exhibitors request during the design process. Today, it’s difficult to spot a rental design, versus a purchased design on the show floor.

The other thing that stands out are the reasons exhibitors decide to rent vs. purchase.

In the past, the primary reason to rent had more to do with only exhibiting in one or two shows per year, and if you were unsure of your long-term show schedule. The thought process was to test the waters with a rental, see how it goes, and purchase once you’ve committed to exhibiting in multiple shows per year. Now, it has become more about design flexibility, and perhaps not wanting to be stuck with the same design show after show. Or, maybe not wanting to deal with storing, shipping, or repairing a purchased exhibit.

Today, many exhibitors approach each show as a clean slate by working with new rental designs that match their specific show-to-show needs.

Q2. Classic Rental Solutions sales have increased year-over-year since 2010. Nearly 20% in 2018. Why?

There are several factors. With the risk of sounding corny, I’ll credit our team of dedicated people, and our incredible distributors, but I also think it’s because of our business model. We understand how important it is to be flexible, and to offer customized design services, and continuously add new custom designs to our rental gallery through our Exhibit Design Search feature on our website. And we’re committed to adding inventory as needed, to fulfill new opportunities for our distributors.

Classic Exhibit Rental Rewards ProgramAnother key factor is that we have the unique support from our in-house manufacturing professionals that produce new exhibits for our 200+ Distributor Partner Network. All of our rental components are produced right here, and we’re able to make last minute modifications.

I like to make it clear that we don’t just offer rentals, but that we offer a complete rental program. From start to finish, we have detailed processes that are followed by our production team and project managers. Every rental project gets staged and photographed before shipping. The highest quality standards are strictly enforced. We include setup instructions, and staging and packing photos with every order. After orders are returned, we provide a complete check-in report to close-out the project.

Several years ago, we implemented our Rental Rewards Program, which offers a reward discount of 2% of the total rental and graphics order when your exhibit returns without major damage and/or missing components. The program also offers two annual prize-drawings, and other rewards for our distributor network.

Q3. What are your biggest challenges headed into 2019? Biggest opportunities?

The seasonal nature of the trade show industry is always challenging. Everything hits at once several times throughout the year, which makes it challenging at times, but we plan and adjust accordingly. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so it’s never a real surprise, but it can hit at slightly different times.

2019 should be an amazing year for us. I would say that our biggest opportunities will be to continue to work on larger island design projects. We’re doing larger projects all the time, and I expect that trend to continue.

Another big opportunity that I’m anticipating is doing more large quantity component orders. We do large quantity orders for workstation kiosks, monitor stands, iPad kiosks, counters, and charging stations. Our large inventory, and willingness to add more, allows us to offer quantities that others typically don’t have available.

Trade Show Island Rental Exhibits from Classic Rental Solutions

Q4. What do you think the typical exhibitor gets wrong about renting a trade show exhibit?

Some of the newer exhibitors think that they are limited to standard designs, and they’re surprised when we start the design process and realize that we offer so much more than they were expecting.

Q5. What do you wish the typical Classic Distributor Partner understood about Classic Rental Solutions?

For those who aren’t aware and haven’t worked with us, I wish that they understood our full capabilities, and our design flexibility. And that we offer a complete rental program with nothing but high-quality “like-new” components. I want them to understand that we can offer something unique for their client base. Something that has proven to work successfully for distributors all over the country.

Q6. Have you seen more event-related rentals vs. trade show rentals? Are their more similarities or differences?

Yes, we ship a fair amount of event-related projects. In the last couple of months, we had multiple large quantity orders for charging stations. And last week we shipped (49) backlit counters to the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

Q7. How has the Gravitee One-Step System impacted your rental options?

Our Gravitee Modular System has been a great addition to our rental program. It works extremely well for towers and conference rooms, but also for entire island and inline designs. It’s super-fast and easy to setup and disassemble, so it’s used as much as possible to save on labor costs. We see a substantial savings in time during our staging process here in our shop as well. We have a large inventory of standard and custom panel sizes, and we’ll continue to add to it.

Q8. Assuming you’ll be at EXHIBITORLIVE 2019, what are the three questions you want attendees or Distributor Partners to ask you about CRS?

Yes, I’m planning to be there, and here are three of many questions that I would welcome during our conversations.

  • How can Classic Rental Solutions assist us with our current rental program?
  • How do we get started working with Classic for our rental projects?
  • What are your customization capabilities?

I’m looking forward to the show, and I’d be happy to schedule meetings during, before, or after show hours.

You can contact Jim Shelman at jshelman@classicexhibits.com or at 503-345-0525 ext, 103. 

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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.