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The "Not-So-Clever" Trade Show Display

Posted By Shauna Esterman, E2MA, Friday, December 11, 2015

by Mel White, Classic Exhibits

 

Trade shows have historically been a commercial marketplace, much like a mall, where potential attendees wandered through the aisles. When something caught their eye, they would enter the booth to learn more about the product or service. As an exhibitor, a clever message, promotion, or display was crucial since enticing attendees into the booth was an important measure of the show’s overall success.

 

Clever mattered and the overall booth served the same purpose as a magazine or television ad: enticing people to try your product and service. As a result, marketers went to great lengths to create witty copy, smart graphics, and an interactive experience. In some cases, the copy, graphics, and experience had little to do with the actual product or service. It was more about generating traffic and leads, regardless of the quality.

 

Does Clever Still Matter?

 

Several years ago, we designed a 20x30 island design with a park theme. It included paths, artificial grass, a swing, benches, trees, and a gazebo. The concept was “A Walk in the Park,” which highlighted how easy it was to work with us – design, customer service, exhibit builds. It was a clever idea that attracted traffic to the booth. Even today, our customers still comment on the design, but when I ask them about the underlying marketing message, they draw a blank. Ouch!

 

 

Does that approach still work? Yes… and no. The ability to create a creative, integrated, and informative trade show experience for an attendee will always be the “holy grail.” However, being clever may not matter as much as it used to. That may seem counter-intuitive, but trade shows have changed. 

 

Google/Amazon… in a Really Big Building

 

The Internet has changed trade shows, but not in the way you think. For years, “experts” predicted that virtual trade shows would replace physical trade shows. That hasn’t happened, nor is it likely to happen anytime soon. According to CEIR, tradeshow attendance has grown for 21 straight quarters.

 

People want to be with people who share their professional and personal interests. Today’s trade show attendees are far less likely to wander the trade show floor. They pre-shop, in the same way we do research before buying a new television, car, or service. Attendees are less incline to discover a vendor at the show. Instead, they identify who they want to visit and plan accordingly. Is there a chance they’ll stumble on a new vendor? Or course, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

 

What Does That Mean to You? 

Your job is difficult and allocating scarce resources is one of your main challenges. Clever takes time. And, if the goal is less about enticing random attendees into the booth, then it becomes more about communicating a problem and your solution. That message is easier since it’s something you do every day. So, what do you do with all this extra time? You devote it to pre-show marketing and to building qualified traffic to the booth… before the show even starts. Successful trade show programs are as much about pre-show and post-show as “the show.” 

 

That’s not to say your trade show exhibit shouldn’t be attractive. It should, but I would encourage you to focus on more practical matters the next time you design or rebrand your display. What do you need in the booth space to conduct business? Make it less about showmanship and more about conversations and information. Take the time you would have spent creating the perfect theme and use it to create targeted social media campaigns and invitations to your clients before the show. Give them a reason to put you on their calendar at the show.

 

It’s OK to be clever, but on a list of trade show marketing priorities, smart (and successful) beats clever every time.

  

Mel White is the VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits Inc., a designer and builder of exhibits, supplier of engineered aluminum extrusions, and provider of custom hybrid rental solutions. For over twenty years, Mel has worked with exhibit manufacturers, distributors, and end-users to develop new products, refine their branding, and sharpen their trade show marketing programs. He is currently the Treasurer of the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association.

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Rethinking the Trade Show

Posted By Shauna Esterman, E2MA, Friday, November 6, 2015

 by Bob Hughes, The Hughes Group

 

originally posted here, October 29, 2015

 

Participating in a trade show is a difficult balance.

 

While you must plan the trip carefully, double-check your presentation material, and structure every  moment for optimal efficiency, you also have to be able to improvise and connect spontaneously with others.

 

Without requisite planning, you risk loosing money and wasting time. However—too much focus on the planning leads to expectations about the outcome, which prevents you from making unexpected, invaluable discoveries and connections in the moment. This is the inherent beauty of the trade show: as complex, people-based organism, it is dynamic and constantly evolving.

 

This contrast between structure and spontaneity in trade show planning is not necessarily opposed. If you view the show as a diagnostic tool for your business, you can get the best of both mindsets.

In this case, a diagnostic tool refers to any experience that tells you about the state of your business, whether it be the key strengths and weaknesses of your employees, the core values of your audience, or whether or not your mission is easily understood by potential clients. These forms of essential knowledge are usually hard won through trial and error, but absolutely necessary to stabilize and grow your business.

 

Turning the trade show into a diagnostic tool is not a call to action, but rather a subtle (and highly effective) change in perspective. Instead of changing how you participate, you simply enhance it: By observing audience responses, new trends in your field, the communicability of your brand and mission statement, the visual effectiveness of your booth—and perhaps most importantly, how your team is working together. All of these elements can all be assessed in a matter of days at a trade show. As a small to medium business owner, you could send one extra employee to each trade show, designated simply to observe, record, and assess. The applied value of their data would be comparable to that of a professional hired to watch your business over several months—but at a fraction of the cost.

 

A diagnostic tool empowers your business by equipping you with the insight to create change. But it’s not just a one time application—every single trade show is a new opportunity to find causal relationships, which deepen your understanding of your product, your brand, and your audience, in turn increasing the profitability and long term growth of your business.

 

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The Five Evil "I's" of Trade Shows

Posted By Shauna Esterman, E2MA, Tuesday, September 29, 2015

by Mel White, Classic Exhibits

 

Jerry: “I don't understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?”

 

Agent: “Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.”

 

Jerry: “But the reservation keeps the car here. That's why you have the reservation.”

 

Agent: “I know why we have reservations.”

 

Jerry: “I don't think you do. If you did, I'd have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to "hold" the reservation and that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.”

 

*     *     *

 

We all recognize this scene from Seinfeld:  The rental car desk. The banter between Jerry and Elaine. And the snide, indifferent response from the rental car agent. We’ve all experienced this poor customer service from an overbooked flight, a missed service appointment, or a bait and switch on an advertised product.

 

Yet, not all bad customer service is this blatant. Sometimes it is poor planning, not recognizing industry trends, or pure laziness. As a trade show exhibitor or an attendee, you’ve experienced this walking the show floor, or what I refer to as the Five Evil “I’s.”    

 

Invitation

As a child, you looked forward to the annual county fair -- the rides, the concerts, and the food vendors were the highlight of the summer. It was always the same weekend, and you planned your vacation around it. Tradeshow were like that once – many, many years ago. Not anymore.

 

Exhibitors must be proactive. To be successful, they must invite existing and potential customers to their booth and explain their value. Whether you are using email, social media, advertising, or good old fashion phone calls, as an exhibitor, you should plan for 50% of your show traffic to be generated pre-show. Simply showing up and showing off no longer works.

 

Indifference

Think about all the money you spend before the show even starts -- the exhibit, freight, booth space, drayage, labor, and travel costs. It’s significant. The show opens, attendees swarm the show floor, and some of those enter your booth space. And you ignore them. By Day 3 how many pass through your booth without a greeting, a handshake, or even a friendly head nod? Your team may acknowledge them but it’s half-hearted. They’re already checking on their flight or planning for dinner. The attendee senses it. They move on to a competitor excited to see them on Day 3 at 3 pm.  

 

Ignorance

At its core, a trade show is a face-to-face Google search. Attendees are there to find and collect information. Yet, many exhibitors bring the charming rather than the competent. Simple questions can’t be answered by the booth staff, or the one expert is always unavailable. Even the booth fails the information test. Lots of splash but no real substance on your products and services. The successful exhibitor strikes a balance between charm and competence and flash and substance.

 

Ignore

Perhaps I’m naïve, but I don’t buy the statistics about lead follow-up. It’s not ideal, not even close, but most companies follow up on show leads. Unfortunately, they do it wrong or half-hearted. They send an email or leave a phone message… then call it good. They treat a show lead as a cold lead, not a warm one. The trade show attendee stopped in your booth for a reason. It’s your job to pinpoint what they need and when they need it. All too often, we abandon the sales process after the first attempt: “I left and message and they never got back to me.” 

 

Insight   

What did you learn at your last show about your competitors, your vendors, your industry, and your customers? Nothing is more valuable. Yes, the tradeshow should lead to more sales. There should be a measurable ROI. However, it’s the unmeasurable ROI that’s often more valuable. We try to be clever and call it “face-to-face marketing,” but the bottom line is that it’s people connecting with people, sharing information, venting, gossiping, and looking for solutions. No website can do that as effectively as two people together. Ever.

 

There’s no magic or voodoo to the Five Evil “I’s.” It’s all about smart planning, commonsense, and a liberal measure of hard work. When you take responsibility for your trade show success, you assert the only “I” that really matters. You.     

 

 

Mel White is the VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits Inc., a designer and builder of exhibits, supplier of engineered aluminum extrusions, and provider of custom hybrid rental solutions. For over twenty years, Mel has worked with exhibit manufacturers, distributors, and end-users to develop new products, refine their branding, and sharpen their trade show marketing programs. He is currently the Treasurer of the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association, and our Seinfeld  connoisseur.

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Tradeshows More Important Than Ever - Pt. 2

Posted By Shauna Esterman, E2MA, Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tradeshows more important than ever

Is your team questioning the value of tradeshows?

  

by Bob Hughes, The Hughes Group

 

We’ve established the facts of how and why trade shows are now more important than ever. They offer a singular chance to increase sales, build long-­‐term connections, and make a diagnostic assessment about your company—all in one place.

 

But have you found yourself wondering lately what, if any, is the use of the trade show to your business or you personally? As an exhibitor do you feel disappointed with your ROI? As an attendee, do you feel that you are not gaining enough insights to justify the cost of attendance? Given the massive amounts of information available to us online, and our ability to communicate without ever meeting, it’s no wonder that many of us are questioning the value of participation.

 

We may be left to assume there’s not enough reason to participate in a show when you can acquire everything you need through the Internet or over the phone.

 

But that’s just the problem—these new avenues of communication, while effective, can never replace face-to-face communication. Trade shows are now more important than ever because they offer a singular opportunity for face-to-face interaction.

 

Let’s look at the role trade shows play via the numbers: recent data shows that the global trade show business is a multi-billion dollar industry.  In 2013, within the United States, business-to-business exhibitions alone passed $11 billion in gross revenues. In 2012, trade shows contributed almost $70 billion to the US economy.

And within the show itself, marketers confirm that face-to-face interactions are core to their sales because it is the only communication platform that includes public relations, web outreach, social media, traditional advertising, and promotions. The unique value of the trade show is that it combines every communication platform into one.

 

The trade show thus holds great potential for growing your business or gleaning information about the state of your field, and this potential lies in making the most of the face-to-face.

 

And the evidence isn’t just found in trade shows. There’s also proof in countless other consumer experiences. Take one example from life: buying shoes.

 

Have you ever ordered a pair of shoes online? If so, were you able to purchase the correct size without ever trying them on? Chances are low. And once this ill-fitting pair arrived at your house, you’d inevitably have to take the shoes to the store, return them, and actually try them on in person in order to find the right size.

By attempting to shortcut this process via the web, we end up wasting precious time and money. Trade shows are no different.

 

Beyond the fact that most sales are the result of face-to-face interaction, there are further benefits to participating in trade shows and maximizing that face-to-face interaction.

 

Meeting on a personal level with others who share a common goal—to grow their business in the same field—is a basic building block of community. And community is what enables businesses—especially small to medium sized—to thrive and stably expand into the future. Not only that, but face-to-face interaction also allows exhibitors to get concrete attendee feedback and apply that to future shows and products. For attendees, you come to the trade show to learn, and the face-to-face is a prime space for learning. The most efficient way to discover new trends and innovators is to meet with others in person.

 

However, you only get out of face-to-face interaction what you put into it. Other reports show that billions of dollars are wasted every year in the face-to-face marketing industry. That means that we must know our audience, target them creatively, and find new ways to communicate and interact that no other platform—not online videos, ads, pamphlets, or social media—ever could. Just like trying on a shoe, the consumer experience is an individual and unique one, and the trade show is the only place to actually find the shoe that fits.

 

The Hughes Group mission is to maximize on this potential and the way to achieve this is through innovation. Our aim is to help exhibitors gain the best ROI, while also making every show experience well worth the attendee’s efforts. This starts with understanding the untapped potential that makes the trade show more important than ever: face-to-face interaction.

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Trade Shows are Now More Important than Ever

Posted By Shauna Esterman, E2MA, Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Updated: Thursday, August 6, 2015

by Bob Hughes, The Hughes Group

 

originally posted here, June 30, 2015

 

Have you found yourself wondering lately what, if any, is the use of the trade show to your business or you personally? As an exhibitor do you feel disappointed with your ROI? As an attendee, do you feel that you are not gaining enough insights to justify the cost of attendance? Given the massive amounts of information available to us online, and our ability to communicate without ever meeting, it’s no wonder that many of us are questioning the value of participation.

 

We may be left to assume there’s not enough reason to participate in a show when you can acquire everything you need through the Internet or over the phone.

 

But that’s just the problem—these new avenues of communication, while effective, can never replace face-to-face communication. Trade shows are now more important than ever because they offer a singular opportunity for face-to-face interaction.

 

Let’s look at the role trade shows play via the numbers: recent data shows that the global trade show business is a multi-billion dollar industry.  In 2013, within the United States, business-to-business exhibitions alone passed $11 billion in gross revenues. In 2012, trade shows contributed almost $70 billion to the US economy.

 

 

And within the show itself, marketers confirm that face-to-face interactions are core to their sales because it is the only communication platform that includes public relations, web outreach, social media, traditional advertising, and promotions. The unique value of the trade show is that it combines every communication platform into one.

 

The trade show thus holds great potential for growing your business or gleaning information about the state of your field, and this potential lies in making the most of the face-to-face.

 

And the evidence isn’t just found in trade shows. There’s also proof in countless other consumer experiences. Take one example from life: buying shoes.

 

Have you ever ordered a pair of shoes online? If so, were you able to purchase the correct size without ever trying them on? Chances are low. And once this ill-fitting pair arrived at your house, you’d inevitably have to take the shoes to the store, return them, and actually try them on in person in order to find the right size. 

 

By attempting to shortcut this process via the web, we end up wasting precious time and money. Trade shows are no different. 

 

Beyond the fact that most sales are the result of face-to-face interaction, there are further benefits to participating in trade shows and maximizing that face-to-face interaction.

 

Meeting on a personal level with others who share a common goal—to grow their business in the same field—is a basic building block of community. And community is what enables businesses—especially small to medium sized—to thrive and stably expand into the future. Not only that, but face-to-face interaction also allows exhibitors to get concrete attendee feedback and apply that to future shows and products. For attendees, you come to the trade show to learn, and the face-to-face is a prime space for learning. The most efficient way to discover new trends and innovators is to meet with others in person.

 

However, you only get out of face-to-face interaction what you put into it. Other reports show that billions of dollars are wasted every year in the face-to-face marketing industry. That means that we must know our audience, target them creatively, and find new ways to communicate and interact that no other platform—not online videos, ads, pamphlets, or social media—ever could. Just like trying on a shoe, the consumer experience is an individual and unique one, and the trade show is the only place to actually find the shoe that fits. 

 

The Hughes Group mission is to maximize on this potential and the way to achieve this is through innovation. Our aim is to help exhibitors gain the best ROI, while also making every show experience well worth the attendee’s efforts. This starts with understanding the untapped potential that makes the trade show more important than ever: face-to-face interaction.

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It Ought to Begin by Being Personal

Posted By Shauna Esterman, E2MA, Thursday, August 6, 2015
Updated: Friday, July 31, 2015

 by Mel White, Classic Exhibits

 

 

Joe Fox: It wasn't... personal.

 

Kathleen Kelly: What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn't personal to you. But it was personal to me. It's “personal” to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal, anyway?

 

Joe Fox: Uh, nothing.

 

Kathleen Kelly: Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

*     *     *

 

Even if you don’t like romantic comedies, you like “You’ve Got Mail.” Tom Hanks. Meg Ryan. I’m giddy just thinking about it. I love that quote, because it cuts through the “It’s not personal” we so often hear in business. We shouldn’t reject the personal. We should embrace it.

 

And yet, we often make business decisions, particularly marketing choices, that are safe, generic, and non-committal. Why is that? It’s because intelligent choices require planning and forethought.

 

Bold choices require, well, boldness. And for most of us, the safe, well-trodden path doesn’t get us fired.


I see that a lot, and I mean A LOT, when it comes to portable/modular trade show displays. I never know if exhibitors make that decision based on budget, inexperience, fear, or laziness. Because I’m a giver (that’s what my college career counselor told me when I was about to graduate after 6 years), I’d like to share some tips on how to make your next portable/modular display “personal.”

 

Some Very Personal Advice

Tip #1:  This is the really, really easy one. Design your graphics for your audience, not for senior management. Now, that sounds simple, but it takes guts because it means two things:  1. Inching your toe up to the line, without crossing it, and 2. Creating different graphics for different audiences depending on the show. Yes, generic graphics are cheaper, but generic graphics rarely speak to your audience and inspire them to change.

 

Tip #2:  Portable and Personal. Or Portable and Cheap. You can’t have both. Which doesn’t mean that your ideal tradeshow display can’t be inexpensive. It can. However, most bare-bones portable displays are not designed for accessories, such as shelves, lights, monitor mounts, etc. They are designed to do one thing – hold a graphic, and sometimes barely that. You don’t have to bust your budget, but it may require you to do more than click on the “purchase” button on a website. You’re buying a corporate marketing asset, not a new pair of shoes.

 

 

Tip #3: What do you want to accomplish, other than sell lots and lots of stuff? Trade shows are not a dark art. They’re marketing and selling, which requires planning and analysis. Your message should be so compelling that exhibitors will stop and ask to hear more. What tools do you need to make that possible – laptop, monitor, layered graphics, shelves, counters, workstations,  lights, food, candy, shiny aluminum plates hanging from strings? In other words, don’t go to the show unless you are 100% prepared to sell your product or services.

 

Tip #4: Conformity is not your friend. It may be a plus when buying a new copier or insurance, but a trade show booth is all about getting attention and communicating your message. Yet, most exhibitors choose their exhibit based on what they’ve seen at a trade show. They choose safe rather than Wow! I understand why. You don’t want to make a bad decision. Resist that urge. You don’t have to dye your hair pink and wear a tutu (metaphorically), but a tan polyester pant suit isn’t a good decision either (again metaphorically speaking ;-))

 

Tip #5:  Consider a rental display. I realize that may seem counterintuitive to everything I’ve just recommended but hear me out. Most contemporary rentals offer significant personalization at an attractive price. You won’t own the display, but do you really care about owning the display, especially if you’re still fine-tuning your message and goals? Plus, you can experiment from show-to-show and never experience tradeshow buyer’s remorse.  Many exhibitors rent displays for the same reason they rent cars – they want to experience a model or style for a few days before making a purchase. Or they simply need another display in a pinch.

 

When considering your next portable or modular display, embrace the personal. It matters. Feel free to mock me, but as Meg Ryan says, “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”

 

Please don’t look at me while I wipe my eyes.       

 

 

Mel White is the VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits Inc., a designer and builder of exhibits, supplier of engineered aluminum extrusions, and provider of custom hybrid rental solutions. For over twenty years, Mel has worked with exhibit manufacturers, distributors, and end-users to develop new products, refine their branding, and sharpen their trade show marketing programs. He is currently the Treasurer of the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association, and our Romantic Comedy Guru.

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5 Steps to Building a Championship Sales Team

Posted By Shauna Esterman, E2MA, Thursday, July 30, 2015

by Marc Wayshak, author of Game Selling Plan


Joe runs a mid-sized manufacturing company with nineteen salespeople. The sales team is a mix of long-time veterans and newcomers. Sales have been flat for the past eighteen months, even though the economy has improved. Joe is constantly frustrated with his ineffective attempts to get his team to prospect more. He tries to show them how to sell more effectively, but they continue to fall back into the same old habits.

Joe knows that his team can and should be selling at least an additional $5 million in revenues. He feels stuck.

Does this sound familiar? Joe's is one of the most common situations I encounter as a sales strategist. Companies often underperform because they have not systematically built a sales team. Follow these five steps to develop a championship sales team of your own:

  1. Re-evaluate the strategy: There are three key ways to increase sales: find more customers, make larger sales and sell more frequently to existing customers. Do you have a strategy that addresses these three areas? More important, are you focused on selling to your ideal customer? Companies are often trying to sell to everyone, but all of the serious rewards come when they focus on selling to their sweet spot. In Joe's case, his salespeople are calling on any and every prospect they come across, indiscriminately. He needs to clarify for his team exactly where they should be focusing their time and efforts in order to increase all areas of sales growth.
  2. Assess the existing team: It's critical that you know your sales team, inside and out. How many A-players, B-players and C-players do you have? How does your existing team feel about your organization? How should you manage each salesperson according to his strengths and weaknesses? For example, Joe knows that he has only three A-players, eight B-players, and the rest are C-players or worse. He is spending most of his time trying to improve the latter with little to show for the effort. Rather, he must more deeply understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and be willing to replace some of his underperformers with new recruits. Both online data-driven assessments and on-site evaluations help to drive this activity.
  3. Develop a hiring process: Mid-sized companies rarely have a formal hiring process. Most of these companies are waiting until they desperately need a new salesperson. Then they will cull through some resumes and set up a few face-to-face interviews, only to hire the most acceptable of the lot. But hiring is the most critical part of developing a championship sales team! It’s time to create a formal process that involves assessments, phone screens, consistent interview questions and role-plays. Right now, Joe has no hiring process and hires people based on his gut in interviews. As a result, he has struggled with a number of miss-hires over the years. He needs to formalize this process and remove his gut from the equation as much as possible.
  4. Train consistently: A suggestion here and there does not count as consistent training. In order to develop a championship sales team, it's critical that you invest a lot into training that team. This means conducting regular trainings to reinforce the most critical selling concepts. Every salesperson needs to be on the same page in selling technique. In Joe’s organization, each salesperson sells in his or her own way. They are all over the map in terms of effectiveness. Joe must either develop or bring in an outside selling system for everyone in the organization to follow.
  5. Create accountability: Most mid-sized organizations are only tracking their salespeople’s sales numbers. But what about their day-to-day prospecting activities? How many calls are made, referrals asked for and meetings set up? By holding your salespeople accountable to their daily prospecting activities, you can track what their pipeline will be in the future, which is the most important indicator of future sales. Up until now, Joe has only reviewed sales numbers at the end of each month in order to hold his salespeople accountable. This leads to his sales team feeling frustrated and without a clear plan to find success. By laying out what he expects his salespeople to do each day, Joe can more effectively manage his team.

Following these five simple steps can take mid-sized organizations from haphazardly managing their people to developing a championship sales team.

 

How did you develop your championship sales team? Please share below in the comments.

 

 

About the Author:

Marc Wayshak [marcwayshak.com] is a sales strategist who created the Game Plan Selling System. He is the author of two books on sales and leadership including his latest book, Game Plan Selling. Get his free eBook on 25 Tips to Crush Your Sales Goal. (Twitter: @MarcWayshak)

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The Millenial Trade Show

Posted By Shauna Esterman, E2MA, Thursday, June 4, 2015

by Bob Hughes, The Hughes Group

 

 

 

Creating a trade show for millennial requires slight but meaningful change in order to adapt to the buying audience of today—an audience more interested in Chipotle than McDonald’s.

 

We are concerned with this idea of a “millennial” trade show, because such a model will embody the ideas behind the current generation of buyers, and they indicate the purchasing power of the future.

 

This requires a deeper look into their purchasing mentalities. Millennial priorities include healthier lifestyles, organic products, informed purchasing, global perspectives, and authenticity. These values now influence the market. Major companies—from Whole Foods to Toyota—are rebranding and opening subsidiary companies that offer humanely produced, customizable products.

 

There are some essential qualities that make up our millennial trade show, which we’ve isolated in previous blog posts. Important among them are creating individualized products and taking great care. The concept beneath both of these approaches is authenticity.

 

So let’s apply this concept to the keystones of a tradeshow: competition, value, inclusion, and cooperation. An “authentic” trade show values cooperation over competition. The feeling is broad spirited and inclusive, rather than exclusive. At the same time, it creates an individualized and personalized experience. It breaks with tradition, but uses the old models as a road map. The millennial trade show embraces these seemingly contradictory ideas as a means of survival.

 

For example, in the art world there are huge fairs are organized yearly to cement and expedite the buying relationships between gallerists and collectors. Most prestigious among them is Frieze, a massive four-day affair held in London and New York City. In the case of New York, a smaller independent fair called Nada, or New Art Dealer’s Alliance, began to exhibit concurrently with Frieze. However, they designed their visitor experience to be a more authentic version of the larger, more prestigious fair.  Admission was free, and the booths were much smaller and more individualized. It was located in a more easily accessible part of town. The hours were adjusted a younger audience, opening and closing later in the day. They organized various performances and events that reflected the interest of their potential audience. Year by year, attendance has risen for Nada and plateaued with Frieze—not unlike the sales for Chipotle and McDonald’s.

 

However, one could not exist without the other—NADA based their fair off of the Frieze model, scheduling it over a long weekend and housing the entire event in one condensed space. The ingenuity lay in approaching it with an altogether different mindset, anticipating the future habits and interests of consumers.

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Scratching My Head About Exhibit Rentals

Posted By Shauna Esterman, E2MA, Thursday, April 23, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2015

by Mel White, Classic Exhibits

 

Recently, what I thought would be a simple, straight-forward conversation left me scratching my head. I was meeting with exhibit industry colleagues, and the topic turned to rentals. Admittedly, rentals shouldn’t be puzzling. Rentals have exploded at a rate 3 to 4 times faster than exhibit purchases since the recession. It’s a hot topic. What surprised me was the perception and the language used to define the exhibit rental landscape.

 

Despite the increase in rental sales, many industry professionals are still using assumptions that are frankly -- antiquated. What do I mean by that? Allow me to share some of our conversation.

 

“How often are customers asking you to design and quote a rental exhibit?”

 

Colleague 1:  “Not often. It comes up if there’s a budget challenge, and the client is looking for alternatives. I’ll mention it then, but it’s not the first place I go.”

 

Colleague 2: “My experience is very different. I would say 30-50% of my conversations are about rentals and there’s a reason. After we talk about what they want to achieve with their exhibit marketing program, I’ll ask them, ‘Are you considering a purchase or a rental?’”

 

Colleague 1: “Why would you head that direction? I don’t understand that logic.”

 

Colleague 2:  “6-8 years ago, I wouldn’t have. The rental options were limited, but that’s changed depending on the exhibit house or manufacturer. Now most exhibitors can rent a design-centric inline or island that achieves their objectives at a cost anywhere from 30-50% less than a purchase depending on how many times they reuse the graphics. The exhibitor has to do their homework since some exhibit houses and general contractors will show rentals, but their designs are stale, can’t be customized, and are often dinged up and dirty.”

 

“How do you talk about costs when it comes to rentals?”

 

Colleague 1:  “I use the 3 to 1 formula. If the customer plans to rent more than three times, then they should purchase it.”