Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Trade show’

COVID-19 and Rewriting the Rules of North American Trade Shows

October 5th, 2020 COMMENTS
North American Trade Show Rules

MOBIUS STRIP: A surface with one continuous side formed by joining the ends of a rectangular strip after twisting one end through 180°.

The Pandemic is an Opportunity

My Advice to #EXHIBITORS. Let’s Not Finish Exactly Where We Started.

Recent announcements from Las Vegas and other cities about capacity increases are a positive sign for the #tradeshow industry. Everyone wants our lives and our businesses to return to normal. However, the #COVID pandemic also represents an opportunity for REAL CHANGE — for Exhibitors, Show Organizers, General Show Contractors, and Convention Centers.

North American Trade Show Rules

To return to the status quo would be more than disappointing. It would be a disaster for the long-term viability of our industry and trade shows in North America. We can no longer bury our heads in the sand and pretend there aren’t problems that affect everyone committed to trade shows.

You are Not Powerless

#EXHIBITORS… You are NOT POWERLESS. Not now. Use your collective influence to advocate for more transparency and flexibility. For too long, the “competitive environment” of a show has prevented individual exhibitors from banding together to force change. Yes, you want to crush your competitor, before, during, and after the show. But, don’t let it blind you to cooperating with other exhibitors to create a more positive, productive, and profitable experience for all stakeholders.

There’s no better time than right now to rewrite the rules of North American trade shows. At great place to start is NAB Show Cares.

I’d love to hear your comments and ideas: mel@classicexhibits.com.

Sandboxes and Tonka Trucks

August 7th, 2020 COMMENTS
Custom Trade Show Exhibit

When I was a kid, there was nothing better than Saturday mornings.  I’d wake up bright and early, plop myself in front of the television set, and watch my shows (Magilla Gorilla or Astro Boy, anyone?). After a few hours, my mom would turn the set off and push us to “go play outside.” 

Once outside, the first stop was always the glorious sandbox where I kept my Tonka Trucks. 

Ahhhh, my Tonka Trucks… These classic metal toys were absolutely made for sandbox play. Dump trucks, Front-End Loaders, Bulldozers – all were at home in the sand. I spent hours creating and building in my imaginary construction sites. 

Turning an Idea into a Concept

While that was a lifetime ago, this past February I had an opportunity to revisit the box.  I received an email from AE Lena Jones (Deckel and Moneypenny in Louisville, KY) asking if Classic “wanted to play with some trucks.” 

Seems her Client – Chevron – was looking for something unique for an upcoming show. D&M’s shop was jam-packed and so she reached out to Classic for some support. She said Chevron was looking for a way to have attendees actually “walk-through” one of their Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs). Time out! I can’t even say DPF let alone know what the heck it is or does. But I soon learned. If you’ve ever seen a semi or big rig driving down the highway (or had a Black Hawk Tonka Truck), chances are you’ve seen a DPF. Take a look at the Tonka below. I’ve circled the DPF.

Diesel Particulate Filter

I have since learned that Diesel Particulate Filters, found on just about every big rig in the country, captures significant amounts of the toxins that a truck generates and stops them from spewing into the air. Chevron’s idea was to have attendees actually walk-through one so they could see why their DPF works so much better than the competition’s filter.    

So that was the assignment. Create an over-sized version of Chevron’s Diesel Particulate Filter large enough for attendees to walk through.

Enter Classic Designer, Kim DiStefano

We were not given any build drawings or designs. Just a verbal description and a dusty old Tonka truck. Enter Classic Designer, Kim DiStefano. 

Kim loves these types of assignments. What designer wouldn’t? Little to no info on how the product actually works. No idea as to available budget.  Rendering and ballpark pricing due in a couple of days. Ahhhh, the perfect assignment. 

In just a few days Kim came back with the following renderings looking for input from client.

Lena shared the renderings with her client and of course… Chevron loved it!  The order was placed and a few weeks later… Voila!!

Actual vs. Rendering

Chevron Diesel Particulate Filter Exhibit

Crazy cool, right?! Take a look at how close Kim’s rendering and the final DPF that Classic produced match up.

Classic Exhibits Designs

Got a funky opportunity and not much time to get it through your own system? Consider letting the Classic Team take a whack at it. These sorts of custom projects now represent a whopping 65% of our business. 

And remember… you’re never too old to play.   

Submit Your EXHIBITOR “Plan B” Story for Publication

November 8th, 2017 COMMENTS

PlanB_EblastImage2

Would you like to see your name in print? EXHIBITOR Magazine is currently looking for Plan B stories.

Plan B is a humorous column about trade show disasters (e.g. missing graphics, last-minute booth alterations, exhibit fires, missing staffers, AWOL tractor-trailers, flooding, and more). More importantly, it’s about how you or your client solved or at least coped with them.

If you’ve suffered a snafu (or a straight-up disaster) and lived to tell the tale, email EXHIBITOR’s senior writer, Linda Armstrong (larmstrong@exhibitormagazine.com) to share your story.

If the tale fits the column parameters, she’ll take your short but detailed synopsis, massage it into column format, and send it your way for a final fact check. When it publishes, you’ll receive the free byline — and industry kudos for your disaster-aversion techniques.

Customer Service Just Got Easier at Your Next Trade Show

November 1st, 2016 1 COMMENT

This photo was shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and L-series lens.

What’s the Difference Between a Shopping Mall and a Trade Show?

Most retailers devote significant time and money to customer service training for their employees. The same can’t be said for exhibitors and their booth staff. They assume their team will be professional.

Recently, I was invited to conduct a Booth Etiquette and Sales Training seminar for a medical services company. It would have been easy to pull together a PowerPoint. Instead, I asked the attendees if they had ever worked in any job where they were expected to approach, assist, and advise someone on a purchase. Of the 52 attendees, all but four raised their hand. I then asked them to think about the “rules” they learned.

mall2

Here’s What They Told Me 

  1. Acknowledge every customer who enters your department, even if you are busy.
  2. Smile.
  3. Don’t bad-mouth your competition.
  4. If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.
  5. Arrive on time. Don’t leave early. Your customers expect the store to be open at the scheduled time and remain open until they have finished shopping.
  6. Listen. Follow the 80/20 rule of sales by listening at least 80 percent of the time.
  7. Ask open-ended questions.
  8. Say “Thank you,” “Please,” and “You’re Welcome.”
  9. Dress appropriately for the job, including basic hygiene. At a minimum, polish your shoes, use an iron, brush your teeth, and comb your hair.
  10. The “Hard Sell” rarely works. The “Consultative Approach” rarely fails.
  11. Don’t chew gum on the sales floor.
  12. Don’t eat on the sales floor.
  13. Don’t drink any beverages on the sales floor.
  14. Wear comfortable shoes.
  15. You can’t be an expert about everything. Ask a colleague to ask who may know more about a product or service.
  16. Don’t make assumptions based on a customer’s appearance.
  17. Start conversations . . .  not a sales pitch.
  18. The customer is always right (or mostly right).
  19. Things get messy, but they can’t stay that way.
  20. You’re not a carnival barker. You are a sales professional.
  21. If you make a commitment to find something, to add them to the mailing list, or to call them when an item goes on sale, honor that commitment.

These “Rules” Should Seem Very Familiar

After all, working on the show floor is very similar to working in a shoe store, electronics store, or a restaurant. You are there to assist customers. Sometimes your customers know exactly what they want. Other times, they expect you to guide them to most appropriate solution after determining their needs. Sometimes it’s slow. Other times it’s busy, but either way you are onstage and expected to perform flawlessly and to be a professional.

And yet, we often see behavior in a trade show booth that would be unacceptable in any retail situation:

  • Eating and drinking on the show floor
  • Drifting into the booth 45 minutes after the show starts after partying until 4 am and reeking of alcohol
  • Congregating in packs, ignoring customers, bad mouthing competitors, and acting like working the show floor is a punishment
  • Monopolizing conversations with customers, disregarding basic sales skills, and launching into a laundry list of features and benefits
  • Using literature and the lead retrieval machine as a substitute for asking open-ended questions
  • Failing to acknowledge customers with a smile or a “be there in a minute”
  • Pre-judging a customer based on appearance or after glancing at the color of their badge
  • Not following up on a lead or a promise to a potential customer

Nearly Everyone Knows How to be Successful on the Trade Show Floor

You learned the basics when you worked at Macy’s or LensCrafters or AutoZone or Olive Garden. At a minimum, you learned to be nice, to be polite, and to treat each customer with respect. At a maximum, you learned how to sell and the importance of customer service. The products and services you now represent may be more complicated and the selling price higher, but the skills are basically the same.

So next time you enter your booth, whether you have a table top at the local Chamber of Commerce show or a 30′ x 30′ custom exhibit at your industry’s premier event, remember what you learned working nights and weekends at the mall. And don’t forget to shine your shoes and iron your shirt or blouse. Appearance counts!

Please share your comments!

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

Custom Inline Exhibit with LED RGB Lights (Very Cool!)

February 20th, 2016 COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Do you want to see something AMAZING?

As we head into EXHIBITOR, I wanted to share a video of a recent custom build. It’s (2) 10 x 10’s that convert into a 10 x 20.

Before you say, “Big deal Kevin… an inline exhibit… we have seen them all.” I challenge that idea. NO YOU HAVE NOT! This particular build is special. For starters, the end-user was the driver behind the design elements required for this booth. They are a high-tech, high-end fiber optics company with an amazing product. They wanted a booth that exuded that same high-tech, high-end look and feel that customers expect from their brand.

I won’t go into great text detail since the video covers it, but I will say this. KUDOS to our manufacturing, project management, and detailing teams for their flawless execution on this project. And thanks to the distributor for bringing us this wonderful project.

Enjoy the video and your week ahead.

See you all in Vegas in just a few short days. Please come by our booth to see Gravitee. In my 21 years of attending EXHIBITOR, I’ve never been more excited to show you a new product line.

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