Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘tradeshow marketing’

PMA Fresh Summit 2019 | Walking The Produce Marketing Association Show

October 23rd, 2019 6 COMMENTS
Harold Mintz
Harold Mintz, Regional Sales Manager

I entered the exhibit industry back in 1980 when I took a job with the Electronic Industry Association’s Consumer Electronics Shows. To put that in perspective, the big thing at the first CES I attended was the launch of RCA’s Videodisc. For those unfamiliar with a videodisc, picture a DVD the size of a record. For those of you unfamiliar with records, see your grandfather.

I am in my first year with Classic Exhibits but with 30 years of industry experience. I took nine years off (2010-2018) to play in Hollywood with a childhood friend. And while that turned out to be a fun-packed excursion for me, the pull of the exhibition industry lured me back. And so here I am.

Recently, my friend Jason Cornatzer from 2020 Exhibits invited me to attend this year’s Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2019 at the Anaheim Convention Center. I accomplished two things by attending the show. First, I saw what is happening on the front lines of the exhibit industry. Second, that inspired me to share my thoughts with you about what worked and didn’t work. So here goes. I hope you enjoy.

#1. Parking Fees at Convention Centers Should Be a Budget Line Item

“Please take your ticket with you for validation.” Translation. Feel free to overpay us inside the convention center before returning to your car or we’ll make you wait for 20 minutes to overpay us in an exhaust-filled deck structure where your satellite radio doesn’t work. 

#2. I Was Never a Fan of Homework

As I was preparing to attend PMA, I needed some direction. How was I going to spend a full day on the show floor? What was I looking to accomplish? What trends were worth tracking?

When I mentioned to Mel White at Classic that I was attending PMA, he asked me to look for charging stations in the booths. Is this still a hot trend, not only in islands but also inlines? And are charging stations specific to some shows and not others. Mel was also curious if any 10 x 10 portable/modular exhibitors along the floor perimeter were finding cool new ways to attract attention.

At Mel’s suggestion, I contacted Katina Rigall Zipay, Classic’s Creative Director, to get a designer’s take on my homework assignment. Katina suggested checking on the use of lightboxes, cool rental designs and if graphic wings are still a thing?

With my car securely parked and my homework assignment in hand, I was ready to hit the floor.  

#3. Bright Colors and Creative Illumination Reign Supreme

Let me start by stating something obvious… If it grabs your attention from an overcrowded aisle, it’s probably a good thing. Every time I found myself stopping to notice a particular booth it was bright yellow (thank you, Chiquita), a backlit booth (yes, Katina, lightboxes are still a thing), or a graphic that made use of high contrast graphics (colorful fruits and vegetables against a white background was quite the popular look).

#4. Trade Show Rules Were Meant to Be Broken

The best salespeople don’t always make the best booth staffers, and the show floor has its own set of unique rules and regulations. First, all staffers should fully understand what the goals of attending this particular show are. Are you demoing your latest widget? Are you trying to book future appointments? When the show is over and you’re back home, how will the boss measure the success of this particular show?

Seems simple enough, but it’s still one of the rules ignored by many companies at every show. How do I know this? It’s obvious when you see soooo many booth staffers sitting behind a toll booth (any table that stops me from entering the booth), on their smart phones with their heads down, or the biggest sin… booths left unattended with no sign of life.

#5. Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane….

Some booths take full advantage of the third dimension. While most get it right, some are still a work in progress. And when it’s “right,” the results can soar!

#6. Engagement? That’s Got a Nice Ring to It.

If you can engage your attendees with something that makes them stop, notice, and hang around for a bit, it gives staffers the time to capture appropriate information. And in this case, a nice show souvenir.

#7. Think A/V is Expensive? Sometimes It’s More Expensive NOT Using It.

How many fully grown men can we pack around a 13” computer screen? Maybe the real question is how many more you could have harnessed had you listened to your exhibit house and splurged on the 50” monitor?

#8. Use It or Lose It.

Look at what these two companies did to utilize the backside of their booths. One transformed it into a company timeline while the other said, “We can never have TOO much yellow in our booth.”

#9. Honorable (and a Few Dishonorable) Mentions

All these booths have something notable to share.

Finally, My Homework Assignments

After spending the entire day walking up and down the aisles of this year’s PMA at the Anaheim Convention Center, I was able to answer my homework assignments. And realized I’m a little outta practice walking show floors (very sore feet).

Charging Stations. I saw very few charging stations inside the show hall. Hardly any, actually. I did, however, find about 80 charging outlets outside the show hall provided by the Anaheim Convention Center. Interestingly, I had a hard time finding an open spot where I could recharge my phone after snapping all these pics. With so many people utilizing all those charging ports outside the hall, you’d think that some exhibitors would’ve been able to take advantage of bringing a few inside their own booth for attendees in need of a fresh charge. Good ideas don’t fade away. They just get forgotten about.

Portable/Modulars Along the Perimeter. Yes, Mel, some of the perimeter booths certainly grabbed my attention. But not always for the right reason. Remind your clients that they’re at the show for a reason. Best to share those reasons before the show and every morning before the show opens. Maybe even offer a Starbucks gift card to the Boother who “wins” the day’s goal count.

Attention Grabbers. Same as it ever was (thanks, David Byrne). Backlighting. Colorful Graphics. Engaged Attendees. Accessible Booth Space. Graphics Up Top. And Good Exhibit Design. The basics are the basics for a good reason. They work.     

So while I’d been out of the industry for almost 10 years, some things haven’t changed. The only way to keep your eye on trends is to walk a show floor every now and then. Make it one of your annual goals. Spend a few days during the year walking show floors and observe what catches your attention. Because if it captures YOUR attention, chances are it’ll capture THEIR attention.

Harold Mintz is the Regional Sales Manager at Classic Exhibits. You can contact Harold at harold@classicexhibits.com.

Trade Show ROO vs. ROI — What’s the Difference

July 11th, 2019 COMMENTS

There’s a good chance you’ve seen Stephan Murtagh’s posts in LinkedIn, under the nom de plume of The Exhibition Guy. His posts are always educational, informative, and creative, but it’s his warmth and enthusiasm that captures your attention. He’s a genuine person trying to present real problems and practical solutions. All of which I appreciate.

A while back, he published a post entitled “ROI is a Good Acquaintance but ROO is Your Friend” in LinkedIn. I didn’t discover it there but in a UK exhibition magazine called Exhibition News. No one displutes that ROI, particularly as it relates to trade shows, can be challenging to measure. Nor should you forsake that challenge, particularly if the CFO is breathing down your neck. However, Stephan argues that ROO (Return on Objectives) may be equally, if not more important.

To Quote Stephan,

The real point here is that the ROI of any exhibition can be judged on many other things rather than cold hard sales. There are many facets and advantages to exhibiting over traditional promotions and ROI is not solely about money but also the return you get from having more time. More time to develop other facets and parts of your business.

To anyone interested in trade show marketing, it’s a thoughtful read. It may not make the trade show budget meeting any less painful, but measuring your success may have gotten a little easier.

Since the image below may be challenging to read, I’ve provide alternate links to the article.

  1. Exhibition News (see pg. 39):
    https://view.joomag.com/exhibition-news-december-2017/0417291001511775557?short
  2. Linked Article:
    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/roi-good-acquaintance-roo-your-friend-stephan-murtagh/
  3. PDF (extracted from the magazine): 
    https://classicexhibits.com/tradeshow-blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Return_on_Objectives-1.pdf

20 Clues It’s Time to Check the Meter on Your Trade Show Display

May 22nd, 2019 4 COMMENTS

Several years ago, I wrote “What’s the Expiration Date of Your Trade Show Display?

Recently, I decided to update it, but after re-reading it, I decided not to make any changes since it still makes me smile. I know… that sounds egotistical, but the line “It smells like the Pennsylvania Convention Center and even Fabreze can’t kill the odor” makes me laugh.

Instead, we give you 20 MORE Reasons to Check the Meter on Your Display. Enjoy and please add to the list. 

20 Clues Your Exhibit Has Expired

  • Your last legal source for halogen lights is now a frozen yogurt store. Your next option is a dark web site run by a dude with the handle “NotWearingPants.”
  • Your 19” flat screen monitor was made by Magnavox. Or Zenith. Or RCA.
  • Six months ago, you bought a display from a company that specializes in imprinted coffee mugs and key chains. Surprise! That display lasted for one show.
  • EXHIBITOR Magazine included your exhibit in its article recent History of Portable Displays 1995.
  • Your repair kit is a shoebox with zip ties, Velcro, duct tape, a box cutter, Tylenol, a hammer, lipstick, and fifty mousepads.
  • There’s a COMDEX label on your crate.
  • Your logo hasn’t been that color since the Bush administration. The FIRST one.
  • Jimmy, your labor guy at Moscone, remembers setting up your booth at TS2. Whenever he wants your attention, he says, “Hey, Whippersnapper!”
  • Two (very painful) words: Foldable Truss
  • You put your glasses on only to discover that your graphics are even fuzzier.  

  • “Parts and pieces” means something different now than when the display was new.
  • You think SEG stands for “Some Extra Gravy.” Which makes you very happy whenever someone asks you if you want more SEG.
  • Your primary colors are Harvest Gold and Avocado Green.
  • Show organizers keep suggesting space near the restrooms because of “all the extra traffic you’ll see.”
  • You play “Eye of the Tiger” in the booth and your hanging sign announces you are “Risin’ Up to the Challenge of Our Rival.”
  • Your exhibit house stores your crates near the fire escape. They’ve stenciled a skull and crossbones on all four sides.
  • The manufacturer had to entice Eddie the Machinist out of retirement with three bottles of Jack Daniels to fulfill your order for replacement parts.
  • The storage closet smells like Becky’s perfume, and she quit 11 years ago.
  • Your portable display case has more stickers than the VW van of a Grateful Dead groupie.
  • Your colleagues are always busy whenever you ask for volunteers for a January trade show in Las Vegas or Orlando. And your company is based in Fargo.  

Bonus: When You Bought Your Display…

  • You were addicted to TAB.
  • You paid a bribe to get your kid a Teddy Ruxpin.
  • Your new car came equipped with ashtrays and lighters and flipping the windshield wiper switch on and off was intermittent wipers. The high-beam switch was on the floor (where it still should be!).
  • Your iPod Shuffle held 120 songs!
  • You had 12 magazine subscriptions.
  • You dropped your film off at a FOTOMAT in a Woolco parking lot.
  • Danielle Steele and Stephen King had only written 50 books between the two of them.
  • You had a MySpace account
  • Zombies were a musical group.
  • “Sustainable” meant making it through an 8-hour shift on the tradeshow floor after partying with Mikey and the guys until 5 am.
  • Mr. Coffee was all the coffee you needed.

How do you determine the expiration date of a trade show display? Please share. 😉

–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.

Modern Smartphones and 21st Century Trade Shows

April 30th, 2019 1 COMMENT
Modern Smartphones and 21st Century Trade Shows

You probably don’t consider smartphones and trade shows as having much in common. After all, one is small enough to hold in your hand, and the other is a large attractive display in an exhibit hall. However, you might be surprised at how similar they really are.

9 Ways a Trade Show is Like a Modern Smartphone

1. Videos. After Google.com, YouTube is the most popular site on the web. We love watching videos on our smartphone whether for entertainment, education, sports, or news. We are equally captivated by videos on the trade show floor, and the rise of large format LED Video Tiles has turned the typical show floor into a walking YouTube with real people who greet you and answer questions about the video. This trend will only continue as the prices of video tiles comes down, and even smaller inlines start to take advantage of the benefits of video.

2. Alerts and Notifications. Smartphones are like a clingy girlfriend or boyfriend, always wanting your undivided attention. What’s new? What’s next? What’s happening? Smart trade show marketers know that attracting your attention is critical — before, during, and after the show. Exhibitors can’t rely on you randomly wandering into their booth at the show. Smart exhibitors spend significant marketing energy notifying and alerting you to visit them on the show floor.

3. Apps. There are apps for just about everything from shopping, exercising, nutrition, cooking, home improvement, and even the handy flashlight (that you probably can’t imagine not having). Apps are our handheld experts on every topic. You have your own experts in your trade show booth, namely your employees. Your knowledgeable employees are essential since attendees expect exhibitors to answer their questions about your products and services. Nothing is more frustrating to an attendee than an exhibitor who can’t answer basic questions, or when the “expert” is unavailable.

Trade Show LED Video Wall

4. Operating System (OS). Whether your smartphone runs on iOS, Android, or some obscure operating system, you rely on it to keep your phone running smoothly. Every successful exhibitor needs their own booth operating system, one that handles traffic flow, presentations, lead retrieval, and a myriad of other essential show tasks. And just like an OS, it doesn’t have to be the latest version. It simply has to work for your team.

5. Social Media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn – Your smartphone is undoubtedly your go-to device for social media because it’s convenient and easy. Think of a trade as a live version of Social Media, where you post news, updates, and share stories about your company or your team. What could be more social than chatting face-to-face with someone? Consider the booth an extension of your existing social media campaign before, during, and after the show. Use social media to create a buzz, drive traffic, and create conversations in your booth about your company.

6. Fully Charged. Face it. You’re a very happy camper when your smartphone is fully charged. The possibilities are endless, whether you want to watch hours of videos, exchange text messages, or navigate around town using GPS. At a trade show, staying upbeat and charged can be challenging after several long, grueling days on the show floor. However, most exhibitors have stories about meeting that perfect client on Day 3 at 4 pm in the booth. Those once in million customers are as likely to walk in your booth on Day 1 as Day 3 – and you better be prepared. Those golden opportunities don’t close into deals when you’re operating at 25%.

7. Photos.  Smartphones changed photography forever because it allowed us to capture memories effortlessly. Think about how often you share those photos with friends and family, and how just scrolling through your phone’s photo album reminds you of those moments.

Think of photos like leads in your booth. Imagine taking that same time, attention, and energy to capturing the details of meetings with clients in your booth. Those details are invaluable when following up with the prospect after the show. Specifics make it easier to address their needs quickly without stumbling through an awkward re-introduction.

Trade Shows and Smartphones

8. Service. We all have our preferred cell phone provider. Sometimes it’s because they have a stronger network where we live. Other times, they have pricing and plans that meet our needs. Or, they have proven time and time again that their customer service is superior to their competitors. It’s easy to forget that customer service is important in your trade show booth. Whether it’s existing or new clients, they are judging your customer service at the trade show. Critically. They expect you to be at your best… and yet, many companies stub their toes by “going through the motions” in their booth.

9. It’s Just a Tool. Smartphones are essentially a communication device, a way to stay connected with others. But as we’ve learned, they’re not a substitute for face-to-face human interaction which we all want and crave. For twenty years, “experts” have predicted the demise of trade shows, and yet, trade shows and trade show attendance continues to grow. Why? Because shaking someone’s hand matters. Because looking someone in the eye as they explain their product or service has value.

Like smartphones, trade shows are a tool that allows us to communicate with others. It’s how we use it that gives it meaning in our lives and adds value to our lives both professionally and personally.

So, at your next trade show, whether as an attendee or an exhibitor, be sure to bring your smartphone. Not that you need permission. But remember to occasionally glance up from the screen from time to time. You just might discover there’s another human eager to talk to you. Not through email or text or Skype, but in person and face-to-face. Who knows, you might just meet a new friend or a supplier or customer that will change your life. Happy Exhibiting!

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

**********************************************

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.

7 Tips to Working with an Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)

July 31st, 2018 1 COMMENT


Guest Post by Rick Bellerjeau, Momentum Management

I am often asked, “Why use a Trade Show Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)?” Perhaps we should start with some simple definitions. 

General Contractor (GC) vs Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)

The official show contractor is typically known as the “General Contractor.” Exhibitor Appointed Contractors, on the other hand, are many of the professionals who service the exhibitor community on the show floor prior to, during, and after the show, such as the floral companies, audio-visual providers, rental furniture companies, labor contractors, and photographers. If a service provider is not named in the show kit by the General Contractor, then the service provider is considered an EAC (Exhibitor Appointed Contractor).

To work with an EAC, the exhibitor (or their exhibit house) must complete forms for the General Contractor or show organizer identifying the EAC. This informs the General Contractor that the EAC will be on the show floor during installation and dismantle. If that wasn’t confusing enough, sometimes a general contractor, like GES, may be EAC when they are not the general contractor. Admittedly, it can be confusing, but the tips below will clear up some of the confusion. 

For our discussion, let’s focus on companies that set up and take down the exhibits for exhibit houses and exhibitors across the country. These labor service providers offer the expertise necessary to get shows up on time and on budget. While these providers are typically known as installation and dismantle companies or “I&D” companies, I&D doesn’t fully describe what they do for exhibitors. For anyone who’s ever had issues on the show floor, you know that the EAC’s “labor services” far exceed installation and dismantle. 

Exhibitors have several options when assembling their exhibit on the show floor, depending on the city and venue. Some choose to assemble the exhibits themselves. Others hire the general contractor to do the work. A better option for many exhibitors is an independent EAC. But how do you choose the right one? Here are 7 Tips to Working with an Independent EAC… particularly for exhibit houses.

1. Don’t underestimate the scale necessary to stage a show

Every day, thousands of people work to ensure that “the show goes on without a hitch.” All are dedicated to making the experience a positive one for everyone involved. 

Someone has to make sure that you and your exhibit do not get lost in the sea of people scrambling to get the show up and down. Who is responsible for what? The show contractor or general contractor has a staggering number of responsibilities. Including you. But how do you get answers and break through all the noise if you don’t know the terrain? You need an advocate. At large shows, you will often find it difficult to get your issues heard above the thunder and chaos. Seeking help from companies who are designed to cater to you and your clients’ show experience is why I&D, or labor services companies, exist. It’s about focusing on what you need done now and efficiently. 

EAC (Exhibit Appointed Contractors) -- Labor Services

2. Look around the city before making your decision

In major trade show cities, such as Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando and New York, you will NOT be the only show in town in most cases. This applies to the week you’re headed into the city as well as the one before and after your show ends. It’s about supply and demand. 

The more shows the greater the demand for the services necessary to manage the show, especially by the General Contractor. All that translates into the more demand on the people who put shows into the city for a living. And the need for additional professional providers.

This challenge happens in every city hosting a trade show. For the exhibit house and exhibitor, consider what company can fulfill your needs most effectively when the heat is on. Who is going to go the extra mile? 

3. Remember what you’re buying

Exhibit Houses offer their clients an amazing array of products and services to exhibitors to ensure their trade show marketing programs are successful. The culmination of these services spells one word — experience. They are assuring their clients that their trade show experience will be not be just OK or good, but GREAT. Smart exhibit houses rely on partnerships that help them deliver a great experience for their clients, period. The cost of retaining or finding a new client is simply too high. Knowing your suppliers and having a long-term relationship with them means you understand one another and are committed to the same goals for your clients. 

4. Who loves you?

What does your EAC partner do to earn your business? What makes them capable of delivering their share of an amazing show experience”? Can they extend your business and help you keep your promises? Your partner ought to be able to articulate how they do that for you.

You want an EAC that can lift the weight of labor services “fully” off your shoulders allowing you to focus on your core business. Finding a partner who truly knows you and your customer’s expectations is key to scaling your business. They should have the reach and scale so you’re not constantly seeking a new solution in every city. 

Momentum Management LaborServices

5. Size and scale matters

There are many labor service companies to choose from in every city. And while there are many local labor provides, there are very few national providers. Opening a local EAC labor services company is not difficult. With a few signatures, perhaps a check or two, and a trip to The Home Depot, one can show up on the show floor with newly minted matching shirts open for business. Small EAC labor providers can take care of those first few clients often with a little help from the union work force. But scale matters in our business. Problems arise when the size of the show, or shows surrounding the city, scale past their ability to deliver. 

It’s all about supply and demand. The talent on the trade show floor in terms of craftsmanship is extraordinary. Couple that with the pace and stamina that these professionals must possess is truly amazing. If we assume there are the “best guys” in a city, any city, we have to assume there are also the worst. Professional EACs with a solid history and consistent work attract the best and most talent laborers. 

We also have to assume, often because there is so much going on in a large trade show city, or there is a city where shows seldom happen, the labor is going to get “tight.” Is the EAC willing to support the city with additional support from other markets? This can only happen in cities where you have union relationships that allow this to happen of course, but this discussion should happen with your EAC.

6. What to look for with your EAC labor services partner

What is their “go-to market” strategy? Who makes up the bulk of their customer base? Are they working with everyone, or do they have a targeted segment of the industry? Whether they’re selling to exhibit houses or the exhibitors, the types of service requirements differ greatly. The strategy will drive where employees focus their attention and loyalties reside for any company. For exhibit houses, aligning with EAC whose primary client base is exhibit houses will make the job easier. For exhibitors, seek companies that have built their expertise servicing your needs directly. EAC’s that juggle these two strategies send a mixed message and that mixed message can often lead to conflict.

What is the EAC’s core business? Look to companies that aren’t in other businesses or offer products or services unrelated to the offering you’re seeking. A “pure play” labor service provider gets up every morning looking to get better at servicing their market segment with better labor services. Not only do they not get distracted, they also are constantly making improvements to their core business. 

Trade Show Labor Services, Exhibit Appointed Contractors 

7. Planning for success requires a time investment

Your labor partner needs to think with you long before the show ever opens. A successful EAC labor service provider encourages you to communicate early and often. Agreeing on decisions like, “The brochures need to be stored in closet #2 in the back left-hand corner” with your partner are vital. It may be the difference between a great experience and one that missed the mark. Your partner ought to dig into the weeds with you to make sure the nuggets that make up a “great show experience” for your client shine. Make sure they have a process for uncovering those nuggets with you and for you as well.

Oops, it’s show time. Enjoy it!

Rick Bellerjeau, General Manager
Momentum Management
http://www.momentummgt.com