Trade Show TalesBlog

“I’ll Know It When I See It” | Every Designer’s Nightmare

December 18th, 2014 5 COMMENTS

nightmare

For the Classic Design Team, nothing is more fun than delivering a design that meets all the client’s needs:  functionally, aesthetically, and fiscally. Collectively, we have 24 years of industry experience designing trade show exhibits. We know most clients are not immersed in exhibit design, so the process can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. We are here to help!

Occasionally, we get an ambiguous request that requires us to practice Mind Reading. Which is understandable. We all come from different levels of experience, and learning how to pre-qualify takes practice. Thankfully, we are pretty good at addressing these requests before they become frustrating for everyone. But . . . that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few “Design Red Flags.”  Here are some we’ve identified over the years.

Design Red Flags

I Need This by Tomorrow (#1)

Good design takes time. Great design takes even more time. Think back to college. Did cramming for that psychology test result in an A? Probably not. There’s a process. Not to mention there are other design deadlines already in the queue. It’s not that we can’t do it if our schedules allow. And we want to, but we want to do it right.

high_fiveMy Client Wants Five Completely Different Options (#2)

Clients like to see options, and this can be achieved by showing them portfolio images, discussing their objectives, and defining a budget. In the end, the client is only going to buy one booth, one that matches their marketing goals and budget. One spectacular design is better than five OK designs, if it is on point and includes revisions. Choose a designer who can delve into the project and deliver exactly what the client needs.

If I Like It I’ll Find the Money to Buy It, So Design with an Unlimited Budget! (#3)

No client has a truly unlimited budget. They might have lots of resources, but there will be a limit. Our advice, throw out an exhibit budget number and gauge their reaction: $50,000 for a 10×10? Either they’ll nod and say “Go for it!,” or they’ll take a big gulp and reveal their actual budget — $8K, $15K, $25K. Perfect, now the designer can give the client the best 10×10 they’ve ever seen within their budget.

I’ll Know It When I See It — aka IKIWISI (#4)

Design is not a poker game where revealing your hand is a disadvantage. Most clients have an idea of what they want, or at least what they want to achieve. At a minimum, they know their product/service and how it should be presented. Every designer loves the opportunity to be creative, but a guessing game is the exact opposite of creative. Whether you are paying for design or not, there is a cost. The cost can be as simple as frustration, revisions, and unmet expectations.

The Client Wants a Rental, But I’d Like to Show Them a Purchase Option (#5)

re-9017-1We understand the motivation. A purchase is more expensive than a rental. But it’s not a very good sales strategy. It’s another way of saying, “I don’t really know what my client wants so I’ll give them multiple options.” See Red Flag #2 above. Designers like to design, but what often gets forgotten is that designers want their designs to sell. We want our work to mean something, to come to fruition. When our designs sell, it validates our talent and our efforts.

So what’s the exact opposite? Clear communication and specific goals. At Classic Exhibits, we want you to succeed. We know you don’t live in exhibit design every day, so the process can frustrating. We also know that your best path is to work with industry professionals and to tap into Exhibit Design Search for ideas. Exhibit Design Search is a terrific place to see ideas and price points.

Over the years, we’ve learned there are three keys to a winning design and a happy customer.

  1. Understand Your Trade Show Goals and Have a Budget in Mind.
  2. Work with a Trade Show Professional Who Can Guide You.
  3. Whenever Possible, Communicate Directly with the Designer.

Best of all, no nightmares . . . for you or for your very favorite designer. Have questions about exhibit design, give us a call or send us an email.

Mike Swartout, Katina Rigall, and Trina Broten
The Classic Exhibits Design Department

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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 www.classicexhibits.com.


 

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

December 13th, 2014 COMMENTS
Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Jen LaBruzza

EDPA ACCESS 2014 Notes – Palm Harbor, FL

Flying High! As I fly home from the EDPA ACCESS 2014 Annual Conference,  I’m writing this from 30,000 ft. But that’s not the only reason I’m “high.” As you learned in Kevin’s blog last week, Classic Exhibits won a major award this year.

We were recognized with an EDDIE Marketing Excellence Award for our online Exhibit Design Search tool. I have to admit as Reid Sherwood and I made our way up to the stage to accept the honor, I was thinking of several people. Mel White, Tony Bennett, Glenna Martin, and Sally Fields. Why Sally Fields? Well the moment was definitely one of those, “You Like Me, You Really Like Me!” moments. Not me specifically, but Exhibit Design Search. The sales tool of all sales tools received the recognition it deserves. It was certainly a proud and emotional moment as Reid and I accepted the award on behalf of Classic Exhibits, our strategic partners, and every Classic Exhibits Distributor who has a branded EDS on their website.

ACCESS was great in so many other ways too. The theme was “Band Together.” Shared ideas about our beloved industry was practiced throughout the seminar and speaker sessions. In addition, Jim Shelman, Reid Sherwood, and I participated in the Supplier Showcase where we connected with current and potential customers, vendors, and even other suppliers in a way that was low-key and comfortable.

Lessons Learned3.jpg“Bridging the Generation Gap” was a particularly interesting session. Amy Yag from Access TCA, Amanda Helgemoe from NuVista, and Pat Friedlander from Word Up! led a lively and engaging session about motivating millennials in the workplace.

The 5 Key Millennial Motivators:

  1. Culture – Being part of something bigger and building a community.
  2. Incentives — Beyond monetary values.
  3. Set Communication Standards – Clear expectations for internal and external communication.
  4. Clear Expectations and Consistent Feedback – A generation of structured learners thrive on this.
  5. Focus on Personal Growth – Opportunities for continuing education/training.

Other sessions and keynotes provided insight into customer service and industry trends. One particular trend that was discussed in many sessions was Cost Reduction as the “new normal,” creating more pressure for exhibit companies to provide value. In all, our industry definitely seems to be on the upswing from the recession based on discussions with distributors, suppliers, and other manufacturers.

Jim and Reid also participated in the golf tournament at the signature Copperhead Golf Course. Jim said, “The golf and the weather couldn’t have been better! Other than a couple of long putts, I wasn’t able to contribute much to our team, but it was fun to be out on a beautiful course on a warm, sunny day in December.” (Who’s been to Oregon in December? Enough said!)

RR_Hotel_Exterior_06Next year the conference will be held in Las Vegas at the beautiful Red Rock Resort, Spa, and Casino, a mere 5 minutes from my house in Summerlin. You know I’m excited about that!

Looking forward to seeing everyone at EXHIBITORLIVE March 1 – 5 at Mandalay Bay.

Still need to register? No worries, we’ve got you covered.Get your VIP Guest Pass ACCESS CODE (#4044) and register:

http://www.classicexhibits.com/tradeshow-blog/2014/11/17/attend-exhibitorlive-2015-free/.

Jen LaBruzza, Western Regional Manager
jen@classicexhibits.com

Eddie Haskell, Eddie Murphy, or Eddie Award?: Word on the Street — December 1st thru December 5th

December 6th, 2014 9 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Classic Exhibits Honored with the 2014 EDPA EDDIE Award

The 2014 EDPA ACCESS Event wrapped up in Florida on Friday December 5. But it was, as always, Thursday night that served as the BIG Night for the Exhibit Industry. Thursday night was the Gala Event, The EDPA Foundation Silent Auction, and the Annual Award Presentations.

The Awards, such as The Ambassador Award, The Hazel Hayes Award, and Designer of the Year Award are given to individuals in the exhibit industry. But there is another category of awards called the EDDIE Awards. The EDDIE is given to companies for their Marketing Excellence over the past year.

We Won

eddie_1This year, Classic Exhibits Inc. won an EDDIE. And to say we are proud and unbelievably honored is an understatement. We won specifically for Exhibit Design Search or EDS as so many of you have come to call it.

The award is presented as a “company” award, but let me tell you who this is really for… Mel White! Mel is the VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits. And while many of you know this already, he is the visionary behind EDS.

Now, as Mel would say, Exhibit Design Search is a collective effort. Tony Bennett, the Classic Exhibits Web Developer, is critical to the success of EDS. He is the genius that makes it all work seamlessly on the web and your “Go To” guy for every distributor-branded website. And then there is Glenna Martin, our Graphic Designer. Glenna plays a key role in the overall branding. There are the Classic Exhibit Designers who create all the beautiful designs that populate EDS with fresh new ideas, and the Customer Service Team who sweat over the Setup Instructions and Graphic Dim Sheets. And of course, every distributor who has offered suggestions, and our wonderful strategic partners in EDS — Optima, DS&L, Brumark, and Eco-Systems Sustainable.

Mel will be humble and say that everyone at the company has a part in the acceptance of this award, and while we appreciate that, as his partner at work and as a representative of the company as whole, I know better. EDS is Mel’s baby, his Brain Child, His Vision. And that Vision has helped transform Classic in so many ways over the past nine years.

This past Thursday night, my cell phone blew up when we won the award — from Reid, Jen, and Jim who were on site at ACCESS, and from so many partners and customers who were in attendance at ACCESS. There was one common thread in all the texts, emails, and phone calls. That common thread was “I/We are so happy for Mel.” That says it all to be frank.

So, as your friend and as your partner day in and day out Mel — CONGRATS! I, too, was beaming with pride and joy when I heard the news, proud of you and joyful that you were recognized for all your dedication and hard work.

BTW — Mel serves as my editor for this blog each week, not changing anything per say, rather editing my runoff sentences, adding commas, etc. And he is gonna REALLY REALLY hate that I did this.  :)

Congrats my friend!

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


 

Seek Help. Trust Me, You Need It!

December 4th, 2014 COMMENTS

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Most exhibitors don’t have a plan when it comes to trade show marketing. They purchase a display, which they think is THE PLAN. So before I harangue you with the obvious suggestions, let’s talk. Really talk.

You are probably a sales/marketing professional if you are reading this. You rely on Act-On, Marketo, or HubSpot for automation. You use CRM software like SalesForce or Infusionsoft. You have a comprehensive email campaign strategy and track it with Constant Contact, Yesware, or MailChimp.

When you have challenging problems, you tap into consultants for lead generation, sales training, social media, and SEO. And, when it comes to advertising, you have a team dedicated to maximizing your spend and metrics. In this hyper-competitive marketplace, you need every advantage that money, strategy, and discipline can bring.

And Then You Wing It!

Do You Believe in Trade Shows? That’s not meant to be a loaded question. You either do or you don’t. There’s no middle ground because exhibitors who “waffle” when it comes to trade show marketing are mostly wasting their money.

That’s not to say that trade shows are the same as trade shows pre-Internet. They’re not. Trade shows are much more efficient than they used to be because most attendees no longer “walk” the floor. They “research” and “shop” the floor just like they would an online purchase. They’ve already decided who they’ll visit days, even weeks before their feet hit the aisle carpet. Getting them to your booth pre-show is now more important than luring them into your booth at the show.

stk313213rknDo You Believe in Metrics and ROI? Of course you do. Imagine conducted a sales/marketing meeting or presentation without metrics. You love numbers. You love studying and reciting them to others like parables from the Bible. You get visibly excited using a spreadsheet to compare the Toledo to the Albuquerque office.

But, when it comes to your trade show marketing, you are like a four-year old with blocks, relying on the # of leads to judge success. Sadly, you pat yourself on the back if the leads are electronic and not a roll of paper cascading off the counter. For most exhibitors, anything beyond that falls into quantitative voodoo. There’s no measuring costs per show, return on sales, or contribution margin per client.

Are You a Good Judge of People? You should be. It’s kinda required for anyone in sales and marketing. At every trade show, you are doing two things:  meeting with customers and suppliers and evaluating your trade show staff. Far too often, we are spectacular at the first and abysmal at the second. We view trade show staffing along the same lines as a wedding invitation — the more the merrier and we pray no one gets so drunk they puke in public. When we do hold staffers accountable, it’s condensed into a pre-show rally which includes 10 minute booth training. It’s a joke.

Are You an Expert in 3D Marketing? I won’t bother to feed your ego on this one. You aren’t an expert. Not even close. You may be an expert at banner ads or print advertising or closing techniques, but you probably don’t know squat about exhibit design and trade show marketing. How do I know? Experience working with exhibitors and walking shows. Now, don’t misunderstand me. You know marketing and you know sales, but you decided at some point to believe that trade show marketing is more of the same. It is and it isn’t, and you’ll blow a ton of money until you know what works and what doesn’t.

Take Some Advice from a Trade Show Professional

VK-5088aaI mean this literally. Take some advice from a trade show professional.

1. Work with your Exhibit House. Exhibit Houses and Distributors do much more than design and build exhibits. They work with exhibitors on strategy, show services, ROI tracking, booth training, etc. They see the painful mistakes that their clients make that cost them money and prevent them from succeeding at trade shows. Believe me . . . they want your trade show marketing to be wildly successful. That way you’ll add more shows to your schedule, you’ll purchase new exhibits, and you’ll tap into their services.

2. Work with Independent Consultants. Like any industry, the trade show industry has seasoned independent consultants who want to share their advice for a fee. Some are generalists. Others specialize in booth staff training or ROI measuring or social media marketing or lead generation or overall trade show marketing. They know their stuff. They are paid to know their stuff. Don’t know who they are? Ask your exhibit house or use this niffy tool called Google. That said . . . always get references and do your homework.

3. Become an Expert. You can either continue to whine or you can take classes at EXHIBITOR or the E2MA Red Diamond Congress. There are hundreds of classes each year on every imaginable topic related to trade shows and trade show marketing. The classes are a great place to meet industry professionals and share your successes and failures with colleagues. For such a big industry, it’s actually a very small community.

No one can know everything. And what’s true for marketing automation software or social media advertising is also true for trade shows. Know what you don’t know and for everything else, seek help.

Cheers!

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

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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 www.classicexhibits.com.


 

The Power of Responsive Communication

December 1st, 2014 COMMENTS

Communication_problem

Sharing . . . .

You either get it or you don’t. We live in a world where we expect people and companies to respond IMMEDIATELY. That doesn’t mean the problem has to be solved NOW or the question answered ASAP, but it does mean that it has to be acknowledged.

Kent Lewis, President and Founder of Anvil Media, an integrated marketing agency specializing in search and social media, wrote a great post about communication. In his post, Impact Marketing: Winning Customers with Quick Wits, he states:

“How many companies have you chosen because they were the first (or only) one to return your initial call? This has been the case for my plumbing, roofing and moving vendor selection. On one hand, many invest in decent visibility . . .  yet they drop the ball when you actually reach out. Similarly, once I’ve chosen a company to provide services, there are times when a simple response would resolve a question, concern or complaint.”

Kent shares four terrific anecdotes about good and poor communication, including one where M&M’s were left on his dashboard after a repair. The stories alone are worth the read.

He makes the following recommendations:

Communication“So what does all this mean for you? In case you didn’t take away sufficiently actionable insights from the above anecdotes, here are a few parting tips:

  • Build responsiveness into your culture: focus on providing timely communications throughout the customer journey (from new business to customer service).
  • Ensure quality, not just quantity, in your timely responses. Provide training and incentives to your team to ensure the interactions are positive and productive.
  • Take good notes. Build a dossier on each of your prospects or clients and add any useful insights like birthdays, anniversaries, pet and children names, etc. Use that information to create a closer connection to your customers with timely emails, cards or gifts.
  • Empower the team. Create a process and train your team to problem-solve independently and resolve issues as they see fit (within guidelines). The Four Hour Work Week outlines this concept well, as do any stories about Zappos customer service.”

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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

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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 www.classicexhibits.com.