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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Exhibit Concepts

How to Incorporate Sound into a Trade Show Booth

Exhibit Concepts June 29, 2018

As anyone who has ever walked the show floor knows, trade shows are a loud, crowded place. There are plenty of people and objects vying for your attention and engaging your senses along the way. People to meet and speak with, demonstrations to watch and objects to touch and experience. And if you’re lucky enough to be at a food show, plenty of things to eat. But what about sound? Aside from face-to-face conversation (there’s nothing better if you ask us!) does sound have a place in a trade show booth or on the show floor?

It does, but it’s important to give it some thought as part of your overall strategy to choose the best sound for your brand.

SET THE MOOD

Music and sound are a powerful tool that can alter your mood. According to researchers at Ashford University, one of the first things that happens when music enters our brains is the triggering of pleasure centers that release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy. While music is a polarizing topic (anyone else cringe at the sound of Gordon Lightfoot’s voice?) instrumental music or a carefully selected playlist can set the mood in your booth. A great example of this is a booth at CES for an essential oils company that was playing nature sounds at a low volume, creating an inviting and serene environment that perfectly aligned with their brand, tone, and message.

CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE

Generally speaking, the point of a trade show is to have meaningful face-to-face conversations. It’s an incredible opportunity for service providers and potential clients to meet, size one another up, and ultimately, make an informed decision about whether or not to do business together. Playing loud music in your booth could distract or take away from those conversations. On the flip side, however, music could be the perfect opportunity to show your audience what you’re made of if you are, say, a Bluetooth speaker manufacturer. Establishing buyer personas will help you get to the root of WHO your audience is and WHY the trade show experience matters to them. Once you have that figured out, sound can be incorporated into your strategy to add to the experience rather than take away from it.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

Not into blasting loud music into the aisle ways from your booth? That’s understandable, but it’s also not the only option. Try taking a page from the museum book and create a personal listening experience for visitors. Individual audio stations allow the listener to start the message, listen as long as they want, and focus on the message without any distractions. These stations can be positioned in an area where they are not obtrusive and can be created with a tablet or small screen for individual viewing and a playlist of audio or video files for a unique engagement.  

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

There are times to DIY and there are times to trust a professional; a trade show is a time to trust a professional. This means partnering with an AV company or expert who has the skills and experience to deliver on your vision and also be on site to ensure the entire experience goes according to plan. Another great option is to hire a professional emcee to lead a presentation in your space to draw a crowd and inform your audience, too. This is a great way to use sound by delivering your message with a charismatic host who can read your script, introduce your offering, and provide that human touch.

HAVE A PLAN B & A PLAN C

The old saying is true: fail to plan and you plan to fail. While we aren’t suggesting that your next trade show is destined to be a disaster, we all know that stuff happens. Items are damaged in transit, wires get crossed, someone forgets to pack a cord: that’s just life. Which is why it’s always a really great idea to have a backup plan or two (or even three, why stop there!) so the show can still go on as planned and you aren’t looking for the nearest electronics store at 2 AM on the Las Vegas strip.

No matter which audio path you choose, there are plenty of great ways to engage your audience on the show floor. Who knows, that great song might just draw in your next big prospect.

Harnessing the Power of Storytelling

Exhibit Concepts June 27, 2018

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, (though, we have to note this has never been substantiated as a quote from him) this is known as the six-world novel. It speaks not only to the importance of brevity, but to something humans have practiced for thousands of years: storytelling.

In so few words, this “novel” leaves much to be imagined, many questions left unanswered, and plenty of room to read between the lines. It’s a captivating set of words because they have you immediately “hooked” and make you wonder things like: why weren’t the shoes ever worn? What happened to the baby? Why are they for sale? It’s incredible that in just six words, an entire story has the potential to unfold.

So, why are stories so important?

Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand, a company that helps companies clarify their messages says, “If you want people to understand and identify with a complicated concept, tell a story about it. This creates a ‘clicking experience’ in a person’s brain, allowing them to suddenly understand what someone else is trying to communicate. As such, if you can tell a good story, you’ll create stronger, faster, connection with your audience.”

Technology has changed the way we live our lives, but it has not changed our love affair with a good story. In fact, it is has given us new platforms to communicate with one another when we cannot sit around the fire together like humans did all those years ago.

CRAFTING YOUR STORY

When it comes to brand experiences, events, and trade shows, story is everything. The story of your brand, why your offering matters, how it helps people, and how you are different are some of the key elements to your brand story. Establishing this story ensures your brand is consistent, and everyone in your company is on the same page about who you are and why your offering matters to help your customers.

Here’s how you get started:

Characters: It was Shakespeare who said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” This is who the story is about, with main characters and supporting actors. These are the brand ambassadors and employees working your booth, playing starring roles as greeters, or walking visitors through demos. Your audience, or visitors to the booth, are key players who arrive to hear your message and make a buying decision based on your delivery.

Setting: This is where the action takes place; a place you describe so well that the reader can image themselves there. For a trade show, this is the obviously the show floor aka the stage. It’s the environment that captivates those characters, taking them on a journey right there on the show floor. Architecture, design, technology, engagement—all those elements add to the scenery.

Conflict: Every story has a conflict or obstacle to overcome. How is the problem solved? What valuable lessons are learned along the way? In this case, it’s about your customer and what keeps them up at night. Identifying personas is a great way to get to the heart of what your audience needs, their problems, and how you can make strides toward solving them.  

Resolution: This is the happy ending, the place where the journey concludes. The hero saves the day, riding off into the sunset and living to fight another day. In this case, your customer is the hero and you are the guide who worked to help them solve their problem, and achieve the success they desire. Just your classic win-win situation.

While you don’t have to follow this formula exactly, it’s a good framework to gaining clarity about who you are and the big idea you have to offer in the market. It helps you get to your WHY, the part of doing business that builds trust and will have everyone gathered around the fire to hear your story.

Trade Shows: Renting vs Buying

Exhibit Concepts June 07, 2018

Rent or Buy?Decisions, decisions. In trade shows, events and face-to-face marketing in general, expectations to deliver memorable experiences are forever increasing. Our clients are constantly seeking new ways to deliver the WOW factor at the same time delivering on time and on budget. And that can lead to discussions about whether owning or renting booth property is the best strategy. Here are a few ways to decide if it makes more sense to rent or buy your trade show property.

RENTING

Pros:

  • Versatility: A rental can offer more flexibility, delivering results for both a simple project and one that is more unique. It can also be used for smaller inline projects or a variety of island configurations.
  • More flexibility: Rentals can be used for one year, multiple shows, or even multiple shows over several years. If you currently own property, rental components can be used alongside those assets. Renting also means it is possible to have multiple booths in different locations.
  • Cost-Effective: A bigger and more complex booth can mean a higher price. If you need a small booth that is, say, around 10x10, renting can help you stay under budget with ease.

Cons:

  • Limited Customization: Rentals offer some degree of customization, but buying a booth is the only way to create a completely customized and original space. Graphics and hanging signs can be changed, but otherwise you are tied to rental inventory.
  • Less Availability: During peak trade show season, there are only so many assets to go around. This could mean changing some elements in your booth’s original design.

BUYING

Pros:

  • Completely Customized: Purchasing a new booth means it’s all yours, and it is built to your exact needs and specifications. You can create shelves to fit your products and build the entire booth around your goal—whatever that may be.
  • Great for the Long Term: If you attend several shows a year and want the same footprint at each, it can be more cost-effective to purchase a booth. This particularly comes into play with larger booth size.

Cons:

  • Additional Expenses: Owning your booth means incurring additional costs, like paying to store it and covering repairs and refurbishments over time.
  • Less Variety: Your booth will, except for new graphics, look identical at every show. This is a con that could be a pro, depending on your audience and your goals for attending trade shows.

A BONUS OPTION

Not sold on either option? A hybrid trade show exhibit (sometimes called a custom rental) is a great alternative that offers benefits from both options: customized assets that you own, with the flexibility of rental components.

Typically, it means owning the heavily branded portions of the space or those designed to showcase your unique products. This could include hanging signs, graphics, or product displays. These unique components offer the custom wow factor your company desires. Then, those custom components you own are used in conjunction with standard core components like a reception counter, kiosks, or even wall panels. This means you can swap out those rental components for a fresh look alongside your standard, owned assets.

Whether you own or rent your booth, or choose a mix of both, it is crucial to understand the importance of events and how it works with your sales and marketing goals. Thinking about where events, like trade shows, fit into your overall business development efforts is critical to your brand’s success.

Making the decision to rent or buy isn’t one you should take lightly. We created an info graphic to help you decide the best path. Want to discuss further? Contact us!

Shining a Light on Problem Solving

Exhibit Concepts June 04, 2018

On December 9, 2017, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened its doors. The museum was many years in the making and is the first state-sponsored civil rights museum in the United States. There are eight galleries in the museum, situated in the round. The galleries represent the history of the civil right movement and in the center is the heart of the museum.

That heart is known as This Little Light of Mine.

It began as a concept for an interactive, illuminated structure conceived by Monadnock Media and Hilferty & Associates. It was fabricated by Transformit and truly embraces the idea that each of us has a light, or a contribution, and there is always a light to be found in the world.

The structure is 40 feet tall and is suspended from the ceiling in the center of the museum. Made of aluminum blades covered in fabric and containing channels of LED lights, it is a sight to behold. Not only is it beautiful, it provides an interactive experience. As more people enter this central gallery, more lights begin to flicker inside the structure and the songs This Little Light of Mine and Ain’t Gonna’ Let Nobody Turn Me Around echo throughout the space.

Construction of the piece took a year and a half, and installing the centerpiece of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum was no easy task. Thanks to some quick thinking and ingenuity, this living sculpture was brought to life. Watch the video below for a glimpse into how it came together.

 

This Little Light of Mine, at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum from Exhibit Concepts Inc. on Vimeo.

Resource: From the Trade Show Experts: Ways to Save Money & Improve Efficiency

Exhibit Concepts May 24, 2018

In the face-to-face marketing industry, planning is crucial. Throughout the year, it’s important to take stock of your trade show program to ensure overall effectiveness. As you work to evaluate your successes and identify areas of improvement, it can be easy to forget important dWays to Save Money & Improve Efficiencyetails and key elements.

This white paper focuses on a variety of ways you can both improve efficiency and save some money along the way- a few key variables of a successful trade show, if you ask us.

We approach savings and efficiency in a variety of areas, including:

  • Show Services
  • Graphics
  • Engagement

You can get all the tips in our White Paper, From the Trade Show Experts: Ways to Save Money & Improve Efficiency. It’s a FREE download and you can get your copy HERE

Why You Need a Trade Show Partner

Exhibit Concepts May 23, 2018

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the largest electronics show in the world. So, attending such a major trade show for the first time would be a big deal for any company. For Omron Automation, it was an opportunity to make a huge splash in the industry.

New call-to-actionAs they prepared for the show, they aligned themselves with a partner. This was someone to not only help them design an exhibit, but to offer a complete solution with support for strategic development and planning, project management, design and fabrication, content development, show service coordination and product integration.

The result? A show-stopping performance that made headlines all over the world.

To learn more about Omron’s big goals and how they achieved (and exceeded!) them, Download the Case Study.

Omron highlights from CES 2018

Three Steps to Brand Consistency

Exhibit Concepts May 15, 2018

Your brand has a logo, a website, and a slogan. You have probably established a mission or company vision, but is your brand consistent? Brand consistency means no matter where someone encounters your brand, it looks, feels, and acts the same across all touchpoints. This means your lobby conveys the same message as your trade show space and website does—there’s no confusion about who you are, what you offer, and the value you add for customers.

Brand consistency is important internally too; it ensures your team is on the same page and communicating the same message to both customers and prospects. So, how can you make sure your brand is consistent and employees are all on the same page? We identified three steps that can get you started in the right direction.

Find a Trusted Partner

When it comes to your goals, no one achieves success alone. Teamwork is a crucial component, both as an internal team and aligning yourself with a partner. Think of it as a symphony: everyone working in harmony for a common goal. A good partner is one that listens to your needs, understands your problems, and works alongside you to create a solution.

Likewise, a partner can help your team get on the same page by creating a plan to ensure your image, messaging, and presence is the same across multiple platforms. They can act as a checks and balance system, to reinforce consistency each step of the way.

Perform an Audit

The best way to take an unfiltered look at your current brand and how it is communicated to customers is through an audit. This process entails gathering all assets and messaging, and looking at every touchpoint as part of a cohesive package. Do visitors to your booth space at a trade show have the same experience they do when they visit your lobby? Where are there gaps in communication and how can we work to fix them as we work toward consistency?

Expand your Presence

Case StudyExploring new options for your brand’s presence is a great way to get the word out about your company. This could mean finding new trade shows to attend, or to create a showroom or experience center to host clients in your facility. Chicago Pneumatic recently did just that: they not only transitioned to a single exhibit house, but they also completed a new showroom. Taking a measured, calculated approach to expansion can lead to positive results down the road. Think about the ways you can invest in your message to speak directly to your audience in the best possible way.

Want to learn more about how Chicago Pneumatic achieved that all-important brand consistency? Read their Case Study!

Is the Trade Show Giveaway Dead?

Exhibit Concepts May 09, 2018

Keychains. Pens. Sunglasses. Mugs. Lanyards. T-shirts. Stress balls. Portable chargers. If you’ve ever attended a trade show, chances are you were given one (or all) of these branded items. Promotional merchandise has long been used to create brand recognition and help you remember a company after you return home from the show. While it’s true that most of us love a freebie, has a pen ever led to a meaningful partnership? Can a stress ball be the difference between a potential deal and a closed deal? It seems that these promotional items (sometimes called swag) are becoming less common, which made us wonder:

Is the trade show giveaway dead?

In a word, no. Here’s why.

IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS

Simply buying branded items in bulk and handing them out to the masses is a thing of the past. A promotional item should be a personalized item that resonates with your audience. Think about who your customer and prospects are; what’s important to them? Consider your persona in a more holistic way and it will lead you to a giveaway or promotional item that creates a touch point that builds on your brand’s equity.

IMG_1161

WHAT’s YOUR GOAL?

When considering a thoughtful, on-brand giveaway for your next trade show, it’s important to also consider your desired outcome. Are you hoping to generate meaningful leads? Do you want free advertising during the show? Or, do you want to generate contacts? Thinking about the outcome is a great way to think about a special giveaway that will feel personal and in line with your brand message.

CONSIDER THE INDUSTRY

Personalization can also come to life by thinking about your industry. For example, we have a client in the HVAC industry who created an engagement around temperature that had prospects lining up to reveal a message and win a variety of prizes like a television. Another client uses personalized pens to sign contracts with new partners and gives them the pen as a memento.

INVEST IN THE RELATIONSHIP

A giveaway item should be considered an investment. A thoughtful, memorable experience can lead to a meaningful relationship and the value could mean millions of dollars down the road. All the more reason to think of an item that won’t simply be tossed in the trash or added to a drawer of pens or a cabinet full of mugs.

So, the trade show giveaway is most definitely not dead. It’s very much alive in companies who understand the value of a meaningful, and potentially memorable, interaction with prospects on the show floor.

It's Not You, It's Me: How to Switch Exhibit Houses

Exhibit Concepts April 26, 2018

Things are not good. In fact, they haven’t been that way for a while. The magic is gone, the passion is gone and you’re left feeling frustrated. Does this sound familiar? If so, it might be time for an exhibit house breakup.

The decision to switch exhibit houses is not an easy one. The process has a reputation for being difficult and even expensive. Severing a long-standing relationship isn’t pleasant for anyone involved, but sometimes the pain and expense of staying the same is worse than the alternative. This is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

How do you know when it’s time?

There are several reasons why marketers change exhibit houses including company mergers, procurement-driven supplier rationalization, and leadership changes. But those are all examples of decisions out of the marketer’s control. There are typically four reasons why you might proactively consider switching to a new exhibit partner:

  • Execution: Projects arrive late, estimates are inaccurate, quality is lacking, and budgets are rarely met.
  • Complacency: Your current partner is not bringing new ideas to the table and focused on the wrong areas or does not have expertise in the areas where you need help most.
  • Responsiveness: Your current partner is neither proactive nor organized. Working with them is challenging and you aren’t completely confident they are on top of projects.
  • Invoicing: When the final bill arrives, it’s full of surprises and is inconsistent. There is an overall lack of transparency.

Regardless of the reason, once the decision to move is made, it should happen swiftly and with purpose and intention. And, with the right partner, the transition can be smooth and without a lot of drama or headache.

Bringing a client onboard is a significant event. It’s important to completely understand expectations, explain how business is conducted, and share all customer facing documents to ensure a successful relationship. This includes review of the typical project process, discovery, the design process, quotes, changes orders, timelines and how each should be utilized to minimize surprises and keep projects on track.

Moreso, making a move can be a stressful experience. Putting a standardized process in place eliminates that feeling, and makes it easier for all involved. Guidance and support is crucial, as a client works to arrange pickup and inventory of property for future events.

THE ONBOARDING PROCESS

Onboarding InfographicWe employ a cohesive Onboarding Process for welcoming our clients that ensures a smooth transition, establishes transparency of our operations, and sets the stage for superior service levels. The cornerstone of the Onboarding Process is the property transition plan to move property to an ECI facility at the optimal time, minimizing cost and resource impact for all parties.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

In 2017, Chicago Pneumatic transitioned to Exhibit Concepts and went through that process to ensure a successful migration of their exhibit property. Prior to working with Exhibit Concepts, Chicago Pneumatic was storing their exhibit property, tools, and demo items in three separate locations with different partners. They needed one trusted partner to provide a streamlined solution to not only track spending but ensure they had access to accurate inventory of all property, day or night.

First, we moved all their property to our facility, inspecting each item and noting any missing items or property that needed repair. Each item was then logged into a robust, easy to use eManagement tracking application allowing their employees 24/7 access to view inventory and order items for upcoming trade shows. For Chicago Pneumatic, onboarding wasn’t painful or difficult: in fact, it made their lives easier.

To learn more about onboarding, download our FREE Onboarding Infographic!

The Trade Show Conference Room: Privacy Out in the Open

Exhibit Concepts April 23, 2018

Incorporating private meeting space during a trade show or conference is not a new phenomenon. It just makes too much sense to take advantage of key company resources – executives, product managers, other subject matter experts — all available in one location where many customers and prospects are also present.

THAT WAS THEN

In the past, exhibitors would secure private meeting space in a small ballroom or hospitality suite near the expo hall. While that is certainly still the case for larger group meetings or extended meetings with special presentation requirements, it's not a one size fits all option. For smaller groups and more casual business meetings, taking advantage of the exhibit booth space whenever possible makes sense. The investment to exhibit has already been made so no additional fees need to be incurred.

When exhibitors first started using a portion of the booth real estate for a private meeting area or conference room, they wanted to “hide” the conference room as much as possible. It was almost an optical illusion to tuck a conference room in next to a storage closet in the booth. The emphasis was on privacy and clever utilization of the space. Privacy is still a requirement in certain industries for regulatory reasons. And for other situations where a "still in development" new product concept is being shared, there remains a need for secrecy.

THIS IS NOW

However, in most situations, there is a recent trend toward conference rooms that are integral to the design of the booth allowing a certain level of privacy while also remaining somewhat visible to attendees.

The reasons are twofold. First, design thinking, attendee experience, and visitor flow are paramount. 3D designers have increasingly focused on balancing eye-catching design with functionality. They embrace the challenge of integrating a private or semi-private conference room into the booth design so that it appears a seamless and integrate part of the plan rather than an afterthought. (How often have we seen situations where the booth design was essentially done and then said, “We love the design but just realized we need a conference room for 6 people.”?)

FOMO

The second reason for the trend toward visible yet private conference and meeting areas is about mystery and intrigue and the psychology of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). When we see glimpses into a meeting space, silhouettes, shadows and have the impression that people are involved in something important and we are not included, that draws us in. It catches our eye and gets us wondering what is happening in there? What are they discussing? Am I missing something? This was a big trend we saw at CES, which featured our favorite meeting space: a car!

CES-Hero-1

So, the next time you are faced with the need to add meeting space to your booth, think about how you can add an element of mystery and exclusivity. Consider semi-opaque walls or small gaps between panels so that other attendees can get a glimpse into the space while still meeting your needs to conduct business. Challenge your exhibit house to make the conference area physically and psychologically functional.

The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News