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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Exhibit Concepts

Team ECI: Checking in on Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Training

Exhibit Concepts April 15, 2019

For many employees at Exhibit Concepts, the Oklahoma City Memorial & Museum is one of the most meaningful museum projects we’ve ever completed. The 17,000 square foot facility opened in 2001, serving as a learning institution consisting of permanent and temporary exhibits, artifacts from the bombing, and the Memorial archives. Because of the lasting impact the facility has on our company and our ongoing support of its mission, Exhibit Concepts is sponsoring eight employees to run and walk the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on April 28, 2019. The Marathon event is the Memorial Museum’s largest fundraiser, and it’s about much more than running: it’s a celebration of life.

With race day just a few weeks away, we checked in with some of our employees to see how they are faring with their race training. Has the frigid Ohio winter thrown a wrench in their outdoor runs? Are they following a training plan or just winging it? Here’s what they had to say:

“Training is going well so far. As well as it can for a slightly out of shape, almost middle-aged beginner, that is! My main focus is to just not injure myself while training. Listening more closely to my body has been a surprising challenge. The urge to push hard is there and I’ve had to consciously force myself not to. I’ve been able to build a solid physical base and a confident frame of mind by setting and attaining smaller, increasingly more difficult goals. I’m hoping this plan is enough to carry me across the finish line.” -Tony Accrocco, Designer

“I try to get a minimum number of steps a day. However, having a goal in mind is pushing me to increase those steps daily.” – Regina Henning, Account Manager

“I’m loosely following a training plan, and it’s going well so far! I’m always surprised and impressed by the people who can run an entire marathon.” Priscilla Esatto, Designer

“I took a few training plans I found and combined them to make something that fits my lifestyle and schedule restraints. It’s been going well so far, except for running in the cold!” – Misty Boyd, Project Manager

Good luck to all of our runners and walkers for their upcoming race. We’ll check in with them after the race for a recap!

An Unforgettable EXHIBITORLIVE: 2019 Edition

Exhibit Concepts April 04, 2019

Our team of storytellers, including our friend Orville, have returned from EXHIBITORLIVE 2019 and are eager to share their experience. In a word, it was “unforgettable”!

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Storytelling at its Best!

This year, we sent our most compelling storytellers from across the company to the EXHIBITORLIVE show floor. Our storytellers have expertise in 3-D and graphic design, relationship management, international exhibiting, brand marketing, and more. We met with attendees to learn what was happening in their trade show programs and we were able to share some of our favorite and most unforgettable projects. We believe that our clients are the heroes of their story and we were honored to showcase them in a variety of ways within our booth.

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Our “Greeter”, Orville the Storytelling Robot

We brought our friends Orville (a robot) and Wilbur (a dinosaur) as greeters, icons, storytellers, engagers, and mascots. Wilbur is a bit of an introvert. He was most comfortable keeping watch from a corner of our double deck. Orville, on the other hand, was eager to share customer success stories. Every time a visitor opened the “magic door” on his torso, Orville introduced another client’s project. Orville could be caught showcasing the innocence of children at play at the Mansfield Independent School District Early Learning Center, belting out the gospel of This Little Light of Mine from the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, or interacting “live” with folks back at our office.

Engaging Over a Lunchbox

Our design team created five different lunchbox designs which were inspired by five different clients. The items inside the lunchboxes were chosen specifically to pay homage to each of our highlighted clients. And we purposefully chose toys because what is the first question our family (or co-workers) asks when we return… “What did you bring me?” We also included two augmented reality postcards. And you can’t have a lunchbox without food, so we also included snacks!

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The Why Wall

On the other side of the wall of lunchboxes, facing a main aisle, we had a three-monitor array dubbed “The Why Wall”. These monitors represented the reasons we love what we do: getting to understand our client’s “why”… Why they are in business. Why they are exhibiting. Why they are different and better than their competitors. One monitor focused on “Real People” showcasing our actual clients and their experience working with Exhibit Concepts. The second monitor showcased “Real Results” which referenced the exceptional and noteworthy business outcomes achieved by our clients at their trade shows and within their branded environments. The final monitor was a highlight of unforgettable projects titled “Really Unforgettable”, displaying several awards our clients won over the last year, some massive new builds and more.

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Brand Stories Made Unforgettable, Including Ours

For the second year in a row, Exhibit Concepts was named to Exhibitor Magazine’s prestigious Find It: Top 40 Exhibit Producer list. Additionally, we were honored at the beMatrix Best of 2018 award breakfast with two 1st place awards: Best Design Greater Than 600 sq. ft. for our work with World Fuel Services and Best Reusability for our use of LEDskin tiles in our EXHIBITORLIVE 2018 booth (which by the way, won Best in Show: Large Booth) which was repurposed and used by our Deceuninck America.

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Continuing Education

As exciting and important as our presence in the exhibit hall is, another critical reason we are passionate participants at EXHIBITORLIVE is the educational sessions. Not only did we send NINE of our team members to take sessions for general industry/trend information or as part of their CTSM certification, several of our executives are a part of the EXHIBITORLIVE faculty and taught a total of seven educational sessions.

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Now that we’re back home and settled in, we are busy following up with all the wonderful people we met on the show floor, at the networking events, and in the classrooms. And we are busy helping our clients tell their stories in the most impactful, effective, and unforgettable ways. We can’t wait until next year to share some new stories—who knows, one of them might be yours!

What's More Important: Architecture or Engagement?

Exhibit Concepts March 26, 2019

There was a time in the events and trade show industry when 3D architecture was king. One of our Account Executives refers to this time as the “Workstation Era.” Back then, he says, the most important piece of design information was to know how many workstations a client wanted in their booth. Then, the booth was designed entirely around the stations. But times have certainly changed, and trade shows are an investment, and businesses expect more out of their investment. Trade show managers are asked to justify the investment and prove ROI on their spend. Rightfully so!

Looks Aren’t Everything

It’s what’s on the inside that counts, which is also true for trade show booths. Spending the most money doesn’t guarantee a positive result; it’s about spending it wisely and investing in engagement that creates a memorable experience. The modern-day trade show attendee expects entertainment and responds best to a personalized experience that speaks to solving their problems. Sure, a large and beautiful booth might draw them in, but an experience that keeps their attention after they arrive is crucial.

Think Big Picture

The design of your trade show booth is just one element of a much bigger picture—and plan. It’s the physical embodiment of your brand and a carrier for your message, but it doesn’t carry that weight alone. Consider it just one piece of the puzzle, helping to support your pre-show, show, and post-show plan to communicate your unique offering to clients and prospects. Creating that “golden thread” will help not only get your message across but help it to be remembered long after they leave the space. The booth is their destination, but everything you do leading up to and after that experience matters.

What About Technology?

Ah, the age-old question. Technology is an integral part of our everyday lives, so why not include it in your trade show booth design? You should, but never just for the sake of technology. Think of tech with a purpose that supports your message and helps you hit your goals. Likewise, technology is not a requirement—in fact, we anticipate nostalgic engagement will be a big trend in trades shows for 2019. “Throwback” games like Plinko and nostalgia-inducing sounds like the click of a prize wheel can capture the attention and hearts of attendees even without a digital component.

The Customer is King

Appealing to your customer’s emotion and needs on the show floor starts with a great first impression. But gone are the days of just drawing a crowd with a flashy booth design that turns heads. Staying competitive means truly understanding your customers: understanding the problems they face, what keeps them up at night, and how you can help them find solutions and get a good night’s rest. It’s not about kiosks or demo stations, it’s about asking the right questions: Why are they attending the show? What do they already know about your product or service? What do you want them to do, think or know after they leave your booth? Designing with your answers to those questions will help you appeal to customer and prospects alike.

Engagement, meaningful face-to-face interactions, quality conversation—it all happens around meaningful engagement. Every aspect of your booth design should center around serving your ideal customer. A booth isn’t just a booth: it’s an experience for every single person who walks by or steps foot inside—and it’s best served by a design that has the customer in mind every step of the way.

Two Cities, Two Museums, One Common Mission

Exhibit Concepts March 20, 2019

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – this can be said for the business of nuclear science. While the work of nuclear research and development brought prosperity, it also signified the threat of war. Two cities - Miamisburg, Ohio and Oak Ridge, Tennessee were once top-secret epicenters at the leading edge of the Nuclear Age. In 2018, Exhibit Concepts played a big role in the tale of these two cities.

The Mound Science and Energy Museum in Miamisburg once housed a facility that was on the leading edge of the Nuclear Age. Mound was heavily involved in research and production of polonium-based igniters in support of the Cold War. Detonators were manufactured and tested at Mound and the facility also worked in tritium recovery. Today, the museum informs visitors about the people who worked at this site over the course of 50 years to help win the Cold War and fuel space exploration.

The American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge has a complex story that includes the development of nuclear weapons for the Manhattan Project. AMSE features exhibits that delve into the science behind light, color, sound, electricity, weapons, robotics, atoms, and much more. The museum educates the public on Oak Ridges' contribution to the Manhattan Project and offers innovative, hands-on learning experiences in a real world setting for visitors as well as STEM students.

We are proud to have had a part in bringing the tale of these two cities to life. The Manhattan Project will forever live in history, but new chapters have begun at the Mound Cold War Discovery Center and the American Museum of Science and Energy where the wonders of science and innovation will continue to inspire for generations.

Team ECI Running Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

Exhibit Concepts March 13, 2019

For Exhibit Concepts, one of the most impactful projects we’ve ever completed as a company was the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. ECI led the fabrication and installation of the museum, alongside museum designer Gallagher & Associates. When asked, many ECI employees point to the Memorial Museum as the most significant project of their career.

This 17,000 square foot museum was completed in 2014 and is housed in the Historic Journal Record Building across the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The Memorial Museum is a learning institution consisting of permanent and temporary exhibits, interactive computer stations, artifacts from the bombing, and the Memorial archives. Visitors to the Memorial Museum can witness the magnitude of the destruction through dramatic audio/visual presentations, interactive exhibits, murals, and displays of poignant artifacts.

The Memorial Museum means so much to us as a company that we’re sponsoring a group of eight employees to run and walk the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on April 28, 2019. The Marathon event is the Memorial Museum’s largest fundraiser, and it’s about much more than running: it’s a celebration of life.

The ECI employees participating in the half marathon event are from departments all over our company, from fabrication and account management to marketing and creative. We asked them about the personal significance of the race to them, and here are some of our favorite responses:

“There are a few different reasons why I wanted to run. It was a unique opportunity to challenge myself in an event I have never done before, and not just in a physical sense. The mental discipline in this challenge is what’s more motivating for me. My other reasons expand beyond the actual race itself. The Oklahoma City bombing was the first major event that I was cognitively able to understand at the time when it was happening. It stuck with me. Fast forward 20 years, I then got to work on a few projects for the Memorial and Museum. Running the race, for me, is to pay respects and to support the mission of the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum.” – Tony Accrocco, Designer

“It’s great to be able to run the race in support of the OKC National Memorial and Museum and all that ECI has done to help make the museum a reality.  On a personal note, I’m also very excited to be able to push myself through training to get a PR.” – Misty Boyd, Project Manager

“The significance of this race for me is the opportunity to see the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum in person and see some of ECI’s work out in the world.” –Priscilla Esatto, Designer

“April 19, 1995 holds special significance to me.  As a new military spouse, this was the day my husband of less than 6 months reported to his first duty station. We drove up to Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina with no personal experience of terrorism or war in America and checked into the base motel. The azaleas were in full bloom and the air popped with the promise of a bright future. The moment we turned on the television we realized the true uncertainty of being a military family. We watched in horror and disbelief, wondering how this could happen-and what did it mean for our lives.  Of course, we would go through those feelings many more times in the 20 years following that beautiful spring morning. 

I consider it an honor to participate in the marathon, paying tribute to not only the lives that were lost, but also to the civilian rescue workers, United States Air Force, and Oklahoma National Guard who arrived within the hour of the blast that day.  Additionally, the opportunity to see firsthand how ECI continues to support and facilitate the Memorial Mission Statement to “offer comfort, strength, peace, hope, and serenity” will be truly rewarding.” –Regina Henning, Account Manager

We’ll be following along on our ECI employees’ journey through training and race day in the coming months. To learn more about the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum, visit their website.

Trade Show Planning & Partners: The World Fuel Story

Exhibit Concepts March 12, 2019

When it comes to trade shows, set up can be an intense (and stressful!) experience. Like so many other things in life, creating a strong plan and bringing in good partners is the key to a successful trade show experience. No one knows that better than World Fuel Services, who recently attended the 2018 National Business Aviation Association Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Orlando.

Each year, NBAA-BACE plays host to over 23,000 attendees from across the globe, making it the largest business aviation event in the world.

In order to achieve their goals, World Fuel Services (WFS) secured a 50’ – x 150’ space near the entrance to the show hall. The space featured a unique and very large overhead sign, a large deck structure for VIP meetings, custom carpet inlays and a variety of spaces to accommodate creative hospitality. This required an 8-day build plan with daily milestones from pre-rigging through the show’s start. With a structure this large, there are many moving parts and people involved. Set-up took 500 hours and teardown took another 300 hours. But architecture alone does not create an experience. It was the ultimate marriage of form and function, with a large hanging sign spanning the booth, and 24 small meeting areas for Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) throughout.

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It was important for WFS to have spaces for FBOs to conduct business, in addition to several other events and engagements. A touchscreen globe gave visitors the chance to understand WFS’ reach around the world. However, it wasn’t all business. WFS gave away highly coveted items throughout the show, including bottles of champagne, headphones, and designer sunglasses.

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There was no shortage of entertainment and hospitality either: a magician entertained visitors with slights of hands, while several bands performed alongside an open bar and heavy appetizers. While there were many moving parts, events, and engagements happening, that solid plan and strong partners ensured it was a successful event for all involved.

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Exhibit Concepts Inc. in Partnership with Elgin Middle East.

Design Makes the Difference

Exhibit Concepts March 08, 2019

A trade show booth is a reflection of the company and the brand. The architecture, the graphics, and the finishes, all come together in the convention hall to provide the backdrop for a memorable attendee experience. The design team at Exhibit Concepts understands this goal and responsibility. We work closely with our clients to understand the unique qualities that set one brand apart from another.

There is no better example of how our designers collaborate with our clients to create that “wow” experience than our partnership with SECTRA, a Swedish medical systems company. Exhibit Concepts supports their trade show program working with contacts in the U.S. and Sweden.

Andrea Sowitch, VP of Marketing, shares how the Exhibit Concepts design team interprets SECTRA’s very specific Swedish look and guidelines so that “our booth really stands out and it’s unique.”

The designers at Exhibit Concepts work closely with our clients to create a space that is unique and memorable. We believe that creativity is not confined to a single department but rather permeates throughout the entire company.

Related Post:
Why Creativity Matters: The HIWIN Story 

How to Justify Your Trade Show Spend

Exhibit Concepts February 15, 2019

When it comes to marketing expenditures, trade shows are often the biggest line item in the budget. This means that justifying their cost and gathering data to prove their success is incredibly important to your overall marketing efforts. While it’s easy to think that a trade show can be difficult to justify, there are several important pieces of information to gather to justify this major expenditure to your boss or upper management. And, sometimes it’s not just about justifying the spend, but many executives disproportionately emphasize and focus on digital marketing and social media. These are certainly important tools but cannot replace face to face interactions.

Create a Golden Thread

A cohesive, connected brand message is crucial to communicating with customers and prospects. There are millions of messages bombarding us and vying for our attention, making it all the more important to create a connected, consistent message. Consider the pre, during, and post show experience for your audience: each serves as a touch point to communicate your unique offering. From advertising and sponsorship opportunities to signage and collateral, everything adds up to making a connection. Those connections lead to a positive association with your brand and ultimately, customers buying what you’re selling.

Collect Real-Time Data

Technology is a game changer for events like trade shows. This means it is easier than ever to collect and analyze your attendee’s behavior before, during, and after the show. Not only can this shape your strategy for the event itself, but it can help you when it’s time to qualify leads, improve your lead generation, and even lead to a better overall marketing strategy for your company. If your event has an app, consider using it to gauge social activity like the use of hashtags, check-ins, and much more. Social engagement isn’t easily related to ROI, but it will help you understand what is or isn’t working with your strategy—and how you can fix it mid-show or next time around.

Make the Connection

The best way to justify event/trade show spend is to tie it back to company revenue. While this can get murky with events, it’s not impossible. Gathering lead data at the show will help tie customers and prospects back to marketing efforts with a marketing automation platform. This means that hot lead gathered at the event can be tied back to an existing lead that could have been gathered through marketing efforts. This will help show the customer journey—and how a trade show helped to seal the deal by meeting that hot prospect face to face.

Face to Face Still Works

Do you know what’s missing from other marketing channels? A live human connection. While getting the word out to your customers about your brand is important, putting a face to the brand is crucial. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 90% of expo attendees have not met face-to-face with any companies exhibiting at the show in the 12 months prior to the event. That makes your next trade show the “final frontier” in terms of marketing.

Best of all, a trade show gathers your target audience in one place, meaning your sales reps aren’t going out to shake the bushes for clients: the business comes straight to you at a trade show.

While it’s easy to think that a trade show is a difficult to measure, expensive proposition, it’s quite the opposite. Trade shows are among the highest touch, highest value marketing channels in existence. Trade shows cover all aspects of marketing, made even more powerful by the human, experiential element that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Play the Comparison Game

There are a variety of marketing tactics that can be used to generate leads. However, it’s important to think about both the time and money involved in closing those leads. According to CEIR, exhibition leads are less expensive and require less time, on average. In their study, “The Cost Effectiveness of Exhibition Participation: Part I and Part II,” meeting a prospect at a trade show versus in the field saves $943 per prospect. A field-sales lead requires more legwork, like identifying the prospect and a series of phone calls. Finding a meeting the prospect at an exhibition saves both time and money in the long run. For more statistics on the value of exhibitions, EXHIBITOR Magazine has a great article.

So the next time your boss asks about your trade show presence, you’ll know just what to say.

Brukner Nature Center Named Best of Ohio

Exhibit Concepts January 30, 2019

Brukner Nature Center in Troy, Ohio received honors in this year's Ohio Magazine - Best of Ohio. A reader’s poll surveyed Ohioans to vote for their favorites throughout the state and Brukner won for Best Nature Center.

Exhibit Concepts has had a long-standing relationship with Brukner beginning with the design and fabrication of exhibits, wildlife habitats, graphics, and interactive components of the center’s downstairs area in 2011 and continuing with renovations to the main level in 2016. In regard to the award Deb Oexmann, Executive Director, stated “the beautiful renovations had a lot to do with that.”

We were delighted to design spaces that showcase the amazing insects, mammals, birds, reptiles, and plant life that are found in the preserve and congratulate Brukner Nature Center for receiving this honor.

Trade Show Trends from CES 2019

Exhibit Concepts January 22, 2019

When it comes to trade shows, none are larger, busier or more captivating than the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Not only is CES the gold standard for product showcases and unique engagement, it’s a fascinating look at the future of technology. From self-driving Lyft cars to bladeless helicopters, there were no shortage of futuristic innovations to witness at CES 2019.

The ECI team was on the show floor to support our clients including Omron and Wireless Power Consortium and to also take in the sights, sounds, and jaw dropping tech showcased by some of the largest technology companies in the world.

As we walked the show floor, we were wowed not just by the technology, but by the unique ways exhibitors worked to stand out from the crowd and draw visitors in. The show is all about tech, but everywhere we looked exhibitors brought in fresh, unexpected elements to humanize and elevate their technology offerings.

Here are some of the trends we saw on the show floor at CES this year.

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The Human Element

CES is a technology show, but it’s really about the marriage between humans and the technology that works to improve our lives. This year, we saw CES booths incorporate humans more than ever—and it made for a fun, engaging experience at every turn. Some of our favorites were the booths that had a DJ, spinning tunes and showcasing products like headphones or speakers. Exhibitors like Omron, SONY, and Intel brought in the human element in a variety of ways. Omron grabbed the crowd’s attention with a product specialist perched on a spotlighted, second-floor podium who described the robotic demonstrations taking place below. Intel and SONY had presenters on the floor, speaking to small groups about products and their benefits. SONY even took things further with an acrobatic artist suspended from the ceiling, while another company featured a woman performing tricks with a soccer ball that could be viewed in person or on a large corresponding video screen.

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The Throwback

Just like the trend we believe will be big in trade shows for 2019 many CES spaces proved that what’s old is new again. Walking the show floor means seeing display after display of cutting-edge technology, but brands like Victrola stood out from the masses. The brand featured over 49 new record players that not only played vinyl, but had Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player and AM/FM radio. The center of the SONY booth was set up like a record store with light wood displays, records by SONY artists to flip through, and a phone with Bluetooth headphones to listen to tunes. While visitors perhaps didn’t plan to listen to records at CES, they were lined up to take in the experience. One booth was filled with games like PONG and skee-ball, attracting crowds of kids at heart to play their favorite childhood arcade games.

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Listen, Look, and Feel

Some of the most meaningful, memorable experiences are those that involve the senses in some way. That doesn’t mean involving all the senses at once, but rather finding a way to evoke emotion or encourage action. The Victrola space we mentioned earlier was covered in a vinyl fabric that made it look like it was constructed of painted white brick. Still others mimicked concrete or were made of real wood, making them surfaces you couldn’t help but touch. One of our favorite experiences were sculptural elements throughout the show that incorporated light and or fabric to create a beautiful statement piece that hung from the ceiling. This was a great way to use the entire exhibit booth space—and encourage visitors to look up which provided a beautiful relief from the many visuals vying for their attention down on the show floor.

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Instagram-Worthy Moments

There are plenty of elements that are begging to be photographed or recorded at CES. Everywhere we turned, visitors had their cell phones out to take a picture or record a video to share on social media or even with co-workers when they returned home. But the brands that really stood out were those who created vignettes that were tailor made for the image-driven Instagram platform. One of the best (and brightest!) examples was in the Nikon booth, where there were three colorful photo setups featuring a pool filled with rubber ducks, for example. Other great examples were brands who created home environments: booths that looked like a bedroom or family room—and one booth that was built to look like a house.

While the emerging technology is a big draw for attending CES, it was the unique ways to tell stories and relay information that really stood out on the show floor.

The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News