Trade Show TalesBlog

“Buy” Button on Exhibit Design Search

September 17th, 2014 COMMENTS


Nearly nine years ago, we launched Exhibit Design Search (EDS), using OSCommerce. It required each distributor to maintain their EDS site and have an online ecommerce account. For all but a few distributors, it was a disaster. They didn’t have time to maintain their site, and the ecommerce function was superfluous. Rarely, rarely, rarely did anyone buy an exhibit online. So, we changed. We created a Classic-maintained EDS and removed the shopping cart.

Since then, there have been countless version changes, but the basic approach has been consistent and successful. One of the features we’ve experiment with the most has been “Calls to Action.” Web consulting gurus insist that a Call to Action is one of the most important features of websites to capture goals. We’ve experimented with various ones, such as Contact Us and My Gallery. Both work fine, but success will always be measured in how often customers contact you.

Recently, we asked ourselves if it’s time to reconsider an ecommerce site. It would be a major software upgrade and would work with about 40% of the kits, like banner stands, table tops, pop-ups, etc. It would be costly, but we’re not opposed to the cost if it spurs more sales. But before we jump headfirst into the pool, we’d like to judge the “true” temperature by wading up to our waist.

The “Buy” Buttonedsbuy

Effective on Friday, we’re adding a “Buy” button on all branded Exhibit Design Search sites, except the Classic website and on the two unbranded EDS sites (remember, we don’t sell direct).  The “Buy” button will go to a contact form with the following language:

Over the years, we’ve learned that purchasing the ideal display takes more than “one-click.” You have questions, we have questions. Together, we’ll ensure that the display you choose reflects your marketing goals and budget.

Give us a call or complete the form. We will respond ASAP. Let’s make your NEXT SHOW your BEST SHOW.

BuyOur distributors tell us that customers call or email if they are interested in a display on their website, even if they have ecommerce available. Sometimes they’ll purchase a basic item online, but even then they will call to confirm. The EDS “Buy” button serves two purposes:  1) It’s a definitive “Call to Action” and 2) It reinforces the idea that purchasing an exhibit should be a consultative process. And, as with ALL contact forms on distributor-branded EDS sites, the information is sent to you (and never to Classic Exhibits). This will be true with the Buy button as well.

Is this THE ANSWER or the PERFECT SOLUTION? No. But it’s a good first step. Over the next few months, we’ll contact you about your experience with the “Buy” button on your website. This will tell us which direction to go.

Should you have any questions, please give me a call or send me an email. Your voice matters, whether about EDS, our products, or our service.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid 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


CEIR Predict Conference Summary: Word on the Street — September 8th thru September 12th

September 12th, 2014 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kudos to Rachel Wimberly on her comprehensive summation of the CEIR Predict Conference on September 11, 2014 in Chicago. If you did not read it, here is the link to the full article from TSNN.

Some Key Points/Comments

1. When the U.S. economy rises, it lifts all boats.

2. CEIR expects to see a 2% uptick by year’s end in the industry.

3. Industry specific . . . attendance was on track to grow faster in future years, which is a very good sign. It’s a leading indicator of the other three metrics (net square footage, real revenues, and number of exhibiting companies).

4. “People will talk online, but they will close business in person.”

5. “Organizers need to let attendees take control of the event. If we’re going to engage them, we’re going to have to take risks.”

6. “A lot of folks are still doing the same thing. I am fearful for those (who) don’t change.”

What We are Seeing and Feeling

The Classic Family of Companies mirrors much of what was said at the conference. Live Marketing is … well … ALIVE. And doing better than ever. But it’s only doing so for those who are listening to their client’s wants and needs, and, most importantly, reacting with answers to those wants and needs.


Those who are proactive in their approach are winning even more opportunities.

At Classic, we are seeing positive growth in 2014 — 19.7% overall year-to-date. Two things play a huge part.

1. Our distributors are among those who are not just “doing the same old thing.”

2. We, as a manufacturer, are answering the varied client challenges being sent our way.

So thanks for allowing us to be a part of that problem-solving team. As you have hopefully seen recently in P5D as well as your own projects, the work coming through the shop is not just challenging, it’s also very unique and exciting.

It’s not all roses and petunias. We too are concerned with the fears of inflation in the US and deflation, which may happen in the European Economy. We need to keep a watchful eye on both. But most importantly, someone once said to me, “Focus your attention on what is within your immediate control . . . and just be mindful of the rest.”

Please comment on Rachel’s wrap-up of the CEIR Predict Conference. Are you seeing and feeling the same things? What are your concerns and fears?

Have a great weekend with your families.



10 Things Bosses Never Tell Employees, But Should: Word on the Street — September 1st thru September 5th

September 6th, 2014 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

So, it’s Friday, September 5. The end of the first week of what is often one of the craziest months for orders and quotes. And it’s BUSY! And we thank you for that.

I have been thinking all week about what to write. Several thoughts came to mind, usually influenced by “in the moment circumstances,” but none seemed to hit me just right.  Then, a LinkedIn Pulse hit my inbox, one I felt compelled to share.

So forgive me if it seems like I am just passing along an article, which I am. In doing so, I am not positive I agree 100%, but I can relate to 100% of his points. Give it a read and share your thoughts and comments. My thanks to Jeff Haden, the author, for the article and the inspiration.

10 Things Bosses Never Tell Employees, But Should

1. “I really do care whether you like me.”
5. “I hope you work here forever.”
6. “We sell what we can sell.”
8. “I do notice when others don’t pull their weight.”
10. “I worry — about everything.”

For the full article, click here.

As a boss of sorts, I hope my style negates the need for many of the statements he makes, meaning I hope that, if polled, our employees would say that I do much of this already or express many of the feelings that come with Jeff’s statements. But, it did make me question if that is really the case.

Regardless, it was a sound reminder on this Friday to be conscious of what I share. And hopefully of how I am perceived.

One thing is for sure. The Team at Classic will agree when I say,  “I don’t know everything.” :)

Have a great weekend with your families. I would love to hear from you.



The Magnificent, Magical Middle of Trade Show Displays

September 4th, 2014 COMMENTS



Who’s Derek Nollman at Classic Rental Solutions?

August 29th, 2014 COMMENTS

Doesn’t He Look Friendly?

Introducing Derek Nollman

Derek has joined the Classic Rental Solutions team and is working directly with me (Jim Shelman) in rental sales. Derek’s still a young guy, but has over 20 years of experience in the trade show industry, mostly on the contractor service side, but also in show management where he sold booth space for one of the larger Portland shows.

Derek’s past experience (including many years with GES and some time with Freeman) offers a valuable new perspective while working with our distributor network on rental projects. First, he speaks our “industry” language, plus he has a full understanding of what exhibitors experience on the show floor. From freight, carpet, and furniture rentals, rigging, and I & D, you name it, Derek has been involved with it. Derek says “I always enjoyed the challenge of figuring things out for exhibitors and assisting them as they were experiencing one of the most stressful things they do, namely exhibiting in trade shows.” He’s a relatively quiet guy, but he’s always thinking of solutions and the best way to approach challenges.

Derek has already dived aggressively into the Rental Solutions galleries in Exhibit Design Search where he’s made hundreds of changes and additions. If you haven’t perused the Rental Solutions galleries lately, I encourage you to do so. So many new designs, accessories, and convenient graphic templates and dimensions. Nearly everything you need for a rental is now online.

This is a very exciting time for Classic Rental Solutions, as we’re growing at an amazing rate and introducing new programs such as Rental Rewards. The timing couldn’t have been better to add Derek to the team. We’re committed to beefing up our sales support in line with our significant growth.

If you haven’t already worked with Derek on a rental project, it won’t be long before you do. I have no doubt that you’ll be happy with his customer service. But I think you’ll really appreciate the extra effort he makes to help you find the right rental solutions for your customers.

I have included a few photos of recent rental projects.

Jim Shelman
General Manger of Exhibits Northwest Portland & Classic Rental Solutions