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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Exhibit Concepts

Trade Show Timeline: The Recipe for Success

Exhibit Concepts June 12, 2017

How many different tasks and coordination points are there in a new trade show build? There are only two correct answers:  It Depends (our “unofficial motto”) and A Lot!

On the client side, there are many decisions to make and many constituents to consult along the way. These important choices include:

  • The decision to exhibit at a trade show
  • Booth location and size
  • Choosing products to showcase
  • Messages to communicate
  • Campaign theme

As you might imagine, this process is no easier on the exhibit house side. What are the client’s objectives? Our team works to source new materials, incorporate new engagement, designing and printing graphics, and even recommending which product to incorporate into the booth.

And the trade show is not going to wait.

So, how can you keep everything and everyone on schedule and moving toward a common goal? By developing and managing to a jointly-developed trade show timeline.

Whether you are working on a major new build or refreshing graphics on an existing booth property, adhering to the timeline you develop with your exhibit house reduces risk and provides peace of mind. It is a critical communication device that keeps all parties on the same page, especially with respect to deliverables and interdependencies.

A good timeline works as follows:

  • All critical deliverables are listed, especially those requiring approvals
  • For each deliverable, the responsible party is named along with the due date
  • Sign-off on the timeline indicates agreement to work diligently to meet dates
  • Regular reviews and reminders of upcoming deliverables

The benefits of a well-run timeline are peace of mind, project readiness, accurate and dependable delivery and an overall ROI for the client. A successful show experience depends on it.

Want more information on the importance of timelines? Here are 4 reasons your trade show needs a timeline.

Why Face-to-Face Marketing Needs Buyer Personas

Exhibit Concepts June 02, 2017

by Ellen Campbell-Kaminski

The concept of buyer personas has only been defined since 2002.  The practice of building a model representation of a typical buyer, defining their goals, understanding what drives their behavior, and how, when and why they buy is an incredibly valuable tool for marketers especially in the digital age. We create content based upon an informed understanding of who our buyer is and where she is on her buying journey.

How committed is she to finding a solution to her problem?

Has she created a short list of potential solutions and searching for information to help her differentiate and prioritize alternatives?

As marketers, we can then create content designed to help answer the questions our buyers face along their journey and we make that content available when and where they are likely to be looking for answers.

What about Face-to-Face Marketing?

Buyer personas are a proven part of successful content marketing.  Just run a web search on “buyer personas in content marketing” and you’ll get over 6 million results. But I believe personas should have a starring role in face-to-face marketing, too. We are a people-centric industry, and it’s time we actively worked to understand customer behavior in order to best serve them.

In my over 20 years in business-to-business marketing, I’ve attended over fifty trade shows both as an exhibitor and as an attendee across a wide variety of industries, from an oil and gas industry show in Houston, TX to the National Catholic Educators Association in Toronto, Canada. Early in my career, I didn’t know about buyer personas nor did I implement sophisticated engagement techniques.  I just sent out a simple pre-show mailer “Come Visit Us at Booth # ___” and had a simple pop-up stand, table skirt, signage, fish bowl to collect business cards, sample product (or demo software) and literature. I hoped people would stop by and talk to me. I’m happy to say my strategies, objectives and approaches have advanced significantly since those early days.

The other thing that has advanced since those early days is my understanding and anticipation of buyer behavior and how to apply that knowledge to my trade show planning.  And that planning includes the development of the buyer personas most likely to visit our booth.

Here are some ways to start forming personas:

  • Understand attendee demographics like industry, title, and purchase authority by consulting resources like the Conference Exhibitor Guide.
  • Interview show organizers for deeper insights into attendee behavior and preferences.
  • Contact your sales partners for information about the visitors they have spoken with at prior year shows and the nature of those conversations and any pain points raised by visitors.
  • Find a colleague at another company who has exhibited at the same show you plan to attend for their perspective.

Armed with this information, you and your team can develop buyer personas for your next trade show. With those personas in hand, your pre-show marketing activities will perform more effectively, your messaging will be more on-point, and your sales people will be better prepared to handle the inquiries they are likely to encounter on the show floor.

It’s true that knowledge is power. In this case the more you know, the better your approach will be when it comes to attending the best trade shows that will resonate with your audience.

Want more ideas on how to engage your audience? See how Adwerx, a digital marketing agency for real estate professionals, created a smart, interactive trade show booth that produced big results.

Want a Winning Trade Show Strategy? Try Start, Stop, Continue

Exhibit Concepts June 01, 2017

You just wrapped a successful trade show event. You are back in your office.  All your leads have been distributed to the sales team. You are reconciling final invoices against your budget. But before you’ve had a chance to gather feedback from your sales partners about any opportunities generated from the leads, you are called into a planning session for the next event on your marketing calendar. 

Does this sound familiar? For many of us, we go from one priority initiative straight into another high profile project. And then next time we have any time to think about the just completed event is when we start the planning process for the next year’s show. Which usually means a minimum of six or nine months have passed.

The good news for those of us with a good marketing platform with integrated sales CRM is that we have record of the leads that were generated and what happened with those leads such as opportunities created and business that was won. You likely have a trade show strategy, but it’s time to take things a step further.

What’s missing is the more qualitative feedback about what worked and where things did not go quite according to plan. So as we sit down to complete a creative brief for the upcoming show, we have to rely on our memory and that of our colleagues, if we are lucky enough to have the same co-workers on the project.

New Call-to-action

A better approach is to conduct a formal “Stop, Start, and Continue” exercise within a week or two post-show. You want the session to be held close enough to the event that memories are still fresh but with enough time passed that your post-show activities have been initiated. 

The exercise, as the name suggests, is a guided way to think about what activities worked really well – these are the ones we want to Continue. Now that we’ve had a chance to reflect, are there things we should have done but didn’t – these are the ones we want to Start. And of course, there are things that just didn’t work out as planned – these are the ones we want to Stop.

You can do this as a solo exercise but it is even more effective if you ask representatives from all the different departments that were involved in the trade show planning and execution of the show to participate. Have your team complete the worksheet independently and then bring the group together to discuss everyone’s perspective.  Compile all the feedback into one document and share across the team.

As you sit down to start planning your presence at the show next year, review this document before you do anything else. It will not only help you enter the process with a fresh perspective but also find yourself armed with knowledge from your experience.

 Ready to continue the planning process? We recommend creating a timeline. Here are 4 reasons your trade show needs a timeline.

How a Customer Experience Center Comes to Life

Exhibit Concepts May 30, 2017

The Need

Vertiv, located in Columbus, Ohio, approached Exhibit Concepts with a specific need: they wanted to transform an existing 1,975 square foot space into a Customer Experience Center. The Center needed to showcase the company’s breadth and depth of technology offerings that protect mainframes with precision cooling systems.

The Client

The company, formerly known as the Network Power business of Emerson, wanted a space that represented the new brand’s look and feel. The Vertiv portfolio spans includes power, thermal and infrastructure management products, software and solutions, all complemented by a network of 250 service centers worldwide. Communicating this solution-based approach was a critical requirement to incorporate into the new Customer Experience Center.

The Process

Every good plan starts with a meaningful conversation. The Exhibit Concepts team met with Vertiv’s team to discuss not only their goals for the space, but to fully understand their creative vision Vertiv wanted a space that would welcome existing and potential customers in order to showcase the company’s offerings with room for meetings and the ability to see Vertiv’s manufacturing facility. A modern, technology-focused space was vital.

The Result

Vertiv’s Customer Experience Center is an innovative, engaging experience for all who enter its doors. Vertiv’s signature orange along with white and natural wood accents provides the perfect backdrop to let the company’s story shine. Panels throughout the space highlight product offerings while televisions play videos of each solution. Tablets are used throughout the space to allow visitors to dive deeper into Vertiv’s technology solutions and see for themselves the many situations in which it can be applied. There’s also a small meeting area for clients and a space for employees to brainstorm new ideas with a white board wall.

“The objective was to show the breadth of our product line and what we can do for our customers in their data centers,” said Rita Vannoy, Manager of the Vertiv Customer Experience Center. “When our customers come in, they love the Center because it’s very modern and ‘techy.’ It’s been a huge success for us.”

Want to learn more about this project? See the Vertiv Customer Experience Center Case Study by selecting the Download button below. 


For more about our interior projects, see our work at a facility for small businesses and a museum dedicated to the history of computing.

Packing It In: Why Crates Can Make or Break Your Trade Show

Exhibit Concepts May 25, 2017

“It depends.”

At Exhibit Concepts, this has become somewhat of an unofficial motto around our offices. After 39 years in the trade show, commercial interior, and museum industry, we know all too well that every project and each client is unique. When it comes to unique, however, nothing is more so than the wooden crates we use to ship property across the world for our customers.

There is no getting around it. Crates are expensive. And for clients with large exhibits requiring many crates, it can be a large line item cost. So, why are they so costly? What makes them such an important element of a successful trade show experience? When you know what goes into making these wooden marvels, it’s easy to see why the humble crate is much more than it seems.

Crates are Precious Snowflakes

It looks anything but special, a large but very plain wooden box with black letter stenciling. But they are special and have the most important job: they must protect and transport property as it travels all over the world. Crates must be strong, resilient, and reusable not just once, but for many years. No easy task, to be certain, but they are up for the job.

Each crate we build is 100% custom. It’s built by hand in a dedicated space in our production facility, designed and created with its specific contents in mind. This means that just like a snowflake, no two crates are exactly the same. Very special indeed.

Build Crates

In order to really appreciate what goes into building a crate, we have to go back to the beginning. At the beginning of any new project, our design and estimating team determine the number of crates required for a particular project. The work order is then passed to our crate builder Rick Rapp who enters all the specifications into a computer program. This produces a material list and he gets to work, carefully building each crate by hand with an AC plywood exterior, raw hardwood pine supports, and hardwood ply feet. Inside, crates are made of a 1 x 4 frame and covered in cotton felt to protect the contents and prevent any friction during the shipping process.

Crates are held together with plenty of staples, nails, and a generous helping of wood glue. Much like tires on a car, a crate is arguably the most important element of successful transportation.

Living the Crate Life

What is the life span of a crate? They’ve discovered the fountain of youth, it seems. Unless the crate itself is damaged (it happens now and then) it can last for decades—and is intended as long as a client wants to hold on to the property that is in the crate. 99% of the crates stored in our warehouse are shipped  back and forth across the country numerous times each year and many have also traveled overseas. And they are constructed to withstand the elements as they are often staged outdoors temporarily before a trade show starts, so resiliency is key.

Crates vs. Skids

Crates aren’t the only option when shipping property to a trade show or museum installation. You could place property on a pallet or skid, which is significantly less costly. However, there are some major risks involved.  For starters, a skid does not protect the property like a crate does—leaving the door open for irreversible damage. Even worse, skids cannot be stacked on top of one another. This means fewer items can fit in a truck, increasing shipping costs and when they return to our warehouse, they take up more area in storage.

There are literally thousands of crates stored in our warehouses. They contain millions of dollars in property.  Our clients have made a sizable investment in their booth property and they have entrusted us to keep that property safe during transit or when being stored for longer periods. We take the task of protecting these items very seriously, and a well-designed and well-constructed crate is the key.

So here’s to the humble crate, which really isn’t that humble after all.

Why Crates Can Make or Break Your Trade Show

How a Donation Led to the Ultimate Moonwalk

Exhibit Concepts May 04, 2017

As a kid, did you ever want to walk on the moon? Maybe you still dream of going into space one day. Thanks to a donation, a lucky group of second graders at St. Albert the Great School in Kettering, Ohio step foot on the moon every time they walk into their classroom.

In 2014 Exhibit Concepts produced an outdoor activation that was used for a PGA event at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY. The project was for Omega Watches through Engine Shop, one of our advertising agency partners. Omega’s Speedmaster Watches had been used on NASA’s mission to the moon. This event featured the timepieces in a lunar setting complete with an astronaut, planets and a floor designed to look like the surface of the moon. Recently, the owner decided they had no further plans for it and ECI came up with a novel idea.


ECI is filled with creative engineers, one of whom obviously dreamed of being an astronaut as a child, and thought we could repurpose the property (or the flooring) for a younger audience. We reached out to officials at the school to share the idea. Several volunteers installed the flooring in one of the classrooms during the school’s winter break, transforming it into a fun and unique experience for students.


“As a teacher, I’m always looking for new ways to help my students learn,” said Paige Spangler, second grade teacher at St. Albert the Great School. “Incorporating this floor into my classroom is just a small way to not only make science fun, but also bring smiles to my students’ faces with a unique new addition to their room.”

Now that’s what you call an out-of-this-world experience. Want to see more of our unique event work? Check out our portfolio!

Why Creativity Matters: The HIWIN Story

Exhibit Concepts May 02, 2017

We believe creativity isn’t just delivering fresh, innovative ideas to clients. It goes much deeper than that, into the realm of understanding (and anticipating) their needs, interpreting the vision, and offering solutions along the way.

This is the kind of knowledge and insight that can only come from experience. The most creative thinking often comes from places other than the creative department. For example, creative thinking and problem solving resides in the purchasing department to find new cost effective material sources or with the crate fabricator to construct a solution involving the fewest number of crates but also protecting the contents.

For HIWIN Technologies, they had very specific goals for their face-to-face marketing program: they desired a fresh look for an upcoming trade show, where they planned to introduce a new product to the market. It was important to not only attract visitors to their trade show space at the show, but also outshine the competition in the process.

hiwin-5370 HI-RES-1.jpg 

Creativity drove the design of their trade show space, but it’s the guidance and contribution of a trade show partner that has made all the difference.

But you shouldn’t take our word for it. We believe our customer, Shawn from HIWIN, says it best in the video below.

Looking to increase the creativity of your face-to-face marketing plan? Download our free Creative Brief Template or read more about how inspiring spaces lead to creative places.

Bringing History to Life: The Computer History Museum

Exhibit Concepts April 19, 2017



To truly appreciate the present (and future) one must first appreciate history. The Computer History Museum, located in Mountain View, California, with stunning views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, tells the compelling story of how computers and software have evolved. Surrounded by the headquarters of some of the largest technology companies in the world, including Google and Symantec, it’s the ideal setting to pay homage to computing’s significant impact on our society.

The 31,000 square-foot museum is a multimedia experience that immerses visitors in the sights, sounds, and stories of the computer revolution.

The inspiration for the Computer History Museum began with a compelling need: to create an immersive experience for museum visitors that covers the history of computing and also addresses the importance of software. Exhibit Concepts was selected to fabricate and install exhibit components for the Computer History Museum with design by Van Sickle & Rolleri.

The project itself covered two phases and contains two distinct areas:

Computer_History_Museum - 17.jpg

Revolution: The First 2,000 Years of Computing tells the history of how computers came to be in our daily lives. The exhibition contains over 1,000 objects in an engaging 25,000 square-foot space. Meant to be interactive, there are many multimedia experiences for visitors including audio and visual presentations, interactive games, and hands-on displays. This space chronicles the history of computing on a global scale, from the abacus all the way to the modern-day smart phone. It also contains one-of-a-kind objects and devices, explained by the innovators who started the computer revolution.

Computer_History_Museum - 41.jpg

Make Software: Change the World explores the history, technology, and cultural impact of seven applications, including Photoshop, MP3, MRI, Car Crash Simulation, Wikipedia, Texting, and World of Warcraft. This 6,000 square-foot interactive area of the museum allows visitors to interact with software, testing their texting speed, learning basic programming concepts, and trying hands-on coding.

Whether it’s creating a museum installation or a compelling visitor experience, it’s all about making connections with your audience. Museums are the key to captivate attention, evoke emotion, and inspire action. For a closer look at the importance of education and bringing stories to life, read about our work in The Cold War Gallery in the National Navy SEAL Museum.

Why Exhibit House Partnership Matters: The Scot Forge Story

Exhibit Concepts April 07, 2017

Two years ago, Scot Forge was on an important mission: they needed to breathe new life into their trade show marketing program. What shows should they attend? How could they get a good return on their investment?

So, they set out on a nationwide search for a company that offered an inclusive face-to-face marketing program, spanning from creative concepts all the way to production and installation. The Scot Forge team visited ExhibitorLIVE in 2015 to meet with companies in order to narrow their search for an exhibit house, seeking a partner that aligned with their company values. They needed a partner that could help them build a strong trade show program that would stand out from the crowd.

One such company was Exhibit Concepts. After that meeting, a partnership was formed: a relationship that makes Scot Forge shine on the show floor to bring booth traffic, strong leads, and that solid return on investment they sought.

A good partnership is just one aspect of a strong professional relationship. Success means something different to each of us.

Exhibit Concepts, Inc. is the Official Sponsor of EXHIBITORFastTrak Chicago, August 22-25

Exhibit Concepts April 06, 2017

Exhibitor Media Group, the leader in trade show and corporate event marketing education, has named Exhibit Concepts, Inc. as the Official Sponsor of EXHIBITORFastTrak Chicago, to be held August 22-25, in Chicago, Illinois at theWit. 

EXHIBITORFastTrak Chicago is one of four accelerated learning conferences where trade show and event marketing professionals can select sessions and workshops from four days of education. These university-affiliated courses make attendees eligible to earn their Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM) professional certification.

"Ongoing education is a crucial part of our industry, and EXHIBITORFastTrak is an invaluable resource for event marketers. We believe in the continued acceleration of the profession so much so that Jeff Hannah, VP of International Services & Commercial Interiors, will be presenting 4 sessions related to exhibiting internationally,” said Jeff Korchinski, Vice President of Sales & Creative at Exhibit Concepts. “We believe there is no better way to communicate than face-to-face and we look forward to engaging face-to-face with the marketers attending FastTrak in August. For nearly 40 years, Exhibit Concepts has helped organizations tell their story through compelling events and award-winning exhibits. Joining forces with FastTrak makes sense for our business to connect with and enhance the experience of attendees to this event.” 

"EXHIBITORFastTrak provides an environment and program for enhancing skills, building a solid foundation of trade show and event marketing knowledge, and building a professional network," adds Dee Silfies, Chief Learning Strategist for Exhibitor Media Group. "We're fortunate to have an extraordinary faculty of the most knowledgeable professionals in trade shows and corporate events— adding the support of Exhibit Concepts as a sponsoring partner, delivers additional acknowledgement of the value of our program." EXHIBITORFastTrak offers unparalleled access to instructors, and ample time to establish lasting connections with peers. Its university-affiliated sessions can lead to Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM) professional certification, awarded by Exhibitor in affiliation with Northern Illinois University Outreach, reflecting adherence to the highest educational standards of trade show and event marketing. 

A complete schedule of EXHIBITORFastTrak sessions, locations and online registration, is available at ExhibitorFastTrak.com. 

The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News