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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Exhibit Concepts

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. 

3 Reasons Why Your Face-to-Face Marketing Plan Needs a Creative Brief

Exhibit Concepts March 31, 2017

So, you want to step up your company’s face-to-face marketing presence. You need a plan: which trade shows should you attend? What’s the ideal size for your booth space? Should you rent or invest in a custom build? Where can you find a reliable partner to design, fabricate, ship and install said booth?

These are all important questions you and your company should be asking, but I’d challenge you to ask one more: What role does creativity play in your plan?

We believe that creativity is a wide reaching and all-encompassing idea. More so, it’s highly successful when we are all on the same page about what it means, how it is interpreted, and the ultimate role it plays in a successful deliverable. This is best achieved through a clear and concise creative brief.

In the trade show and exhibit industry, creative briefs are not the norm like they are in other disciplines like advertising and direct marketing. A creative brief is simply a communication tool that outlines the requirements, expectations, goals, and resources for a project. This living document is incredibly useful for any size project and it gets both parties on the same page to ensure a problem is solved with a satisfactory result.

Here are three compelling reasons your face-to-face marketing plan needs a creative brief:

Reason 1: Complete Understanding of the Project Scope

In life, some of our most significant issues arise from poor communication; business is no different. The creative brief works to eliminate that possibility by laying all information out in a simple, easy to understand format. Think of it as a comprehensive creative overview, highlighting the project name, objectives, scope, timeline and of course, budget. This ensures both parties have all the available information and resources to deliver a mutually satisfactory end product.

Reason 2: Identifying any Problems or Challenges

There is a solution for every problem and a creative brief serves as a documentation of the identified issue agreed upon by both parties, submitted and approved by the client before a project kick off. It could be as simple as, “The client needs a better way to identify quality leads in their booth during a show.” Identifying the problem means asking meaningful questions in order to discover the root of the issue so that we can work toward a meaningful end design.

Reason 3: Offering a “True North” for the Entire Team

Written by the client, a creative brief is a veritable treasure map for a creative team, but it does so much more than that. It’s a useful tool that your entire team can refer back to throughout the course of a project. It’s easy to get lost as a project progresses and as more opinions are added to the mix, particularly on a longer or more complex project. This is where the creative brief really works its magic, serving as a “true north.” The brief is useful for the entire team and keeps everyone on track, well beyond members of the creative team.

Ready to get started? We’ve created a simple downloadable Creative Brief Template that you can view and download HERE.


Bright Lights, Big City: 5 Impressions from My First ExhibitorLIVE

Exhibit Concepts March 30, 2017

by Ellen Campbell-Kaminski, VP of Marketing

What do a mascot, mad scientists, 169 classes , virtual reality, four magicians, video testimonials, skate boards, exams, balloons, Vegas, and aching feet have in common?  Well, if you throw in some of the most innovative and creative trade show booths imaginable, you’ve got ExhibitorLIVE:  the Annual Professional Development Conference for Trade Show and Corporate Event Marketers.

After months of planning our presence: objectives, theme, trade show booth design, visitor engagement, client video testimonials, pre-show marketing, and brand ambassador training, it was finally time. My reservations were booked and my luggage was packed and our marketing materials were saved onto thumb-drives and securely packed in my carry-on luggage.

5 Impressions from My First ExhibitorLIVE

Impression 1:  Education is Serious Business

On the first morning of conference, I attended a beMatrix breakfast meeting where Exhibit Concepts was named Finalist in three categories: The One That Got Away; Best Use of the 360 Solution; and Most Innovative Use. Walking down the hall I passed an enormous wall filled with the class schedule.  I was struck by the sheer number of offerings.  A few that caught my eye, in addition to the four sessions on exhibiting internationally that my colleague Jeff Hannah delivered, included: Build a Better RFP and 11 New Rules of Trade Show Marketing.  Our industry is changing rapidly and at the same time, there is a proliferation of ways to reach our target audience which means we, as marketers, need to develop sophisticated, integrated campaigns in order to reach our intended audiences, wherever they may be.

Impression 2:  The Value of Face-to-Face Marketing

I was recently asked why I joined a company that focuses on trade show exhibits, permanent installations, museums, events and mobile tour marketing.  I think of our industry as “Face-to-face marketing, the original Social Media™.”

I believe that human beings are inherently social and at the end of the day, people buy from people.  We want to be able to examine what we are potentially buying and we want to know who we are doing business with;.  hence, I think face-to-face marketing will be required for years to come. And here I was, attending a conference of thousands of people who understand and are invested in advancing the profession because they too understand the value and necessity of trade show and corporate events

Impression 3:  Materials, Lighting and Special Effects

Oh My Goodness! The beauty and variety of materials used in the exhibits on the show floor was astounding.  Everywhere I looked, there was something new to see and wonder, “How did they do that?” Woods and metals.  Fabrics and laminates.  Every surface told a story- one of innovation and really thinking outside the box.  The hall was bright and every booth was brightly lit, inviting attendees in at every turn.  Special effects included a dancing wall of water and even holograms with eyes that followed you as you walked down the aisle.  

Impression 4:  Reaching New Heights

When I first entered the hall, I remember thinking how tall the exhibits were and was amazed by how many had adouble deck for private meetings or engagement.  This was an impressive use of space for booths that had a set size and exhibitors who (literally) chose to take their booth to new heights. These exhibits felt unique and really drew my eye to the space, making me want to take a closer look.

Impression 5:  Attention to Detail

Exhibitors didn’t rely on gimmicks to draw attendees into their spaces. Rather, they focused on their story and focused on the details so that attendees were just in awe. In our own booth, I saw numerous attendees staring up at our “word tower” trying to figure out where we were projecting the words from.  The secret is that the words on the tower were lit from within. It was clear that other exhibit houses took the same care in planning and building their booths as we did.  This is our store front, so it has to be our best foot forward.  And this is evidence of the same care we bring to our client’s projects.

And so, my first ExhibitorLIVE is in the books.  We’re following up with all the great people we had a chance to meet in the booth, at the Welcome Reception, in the classes and just walking through the convention center. And I am already looking forward to next year.

P.S. For Exhibit Concepts, the fun isn’t over yet—not by a long shot. We are thrilled to be the sponsor of EXHIBITORFastTrak in Chicago, August 22-25. Ongoing education is a crucial part of our industry, and EXHIBITORFastTrak is an invaluable resource for event marketers; we are thrilled to be part of the event.



Millennials vs Everyone Else: Can't We All Just Get Along?

Exhibit Concepts March 23, 2017

By Ellen Campbell-Kaminski, VP of Marketing

I recently attended a marketing conference and there were many great session topics, but one in particular caught my eye. The session write-up described a dialog between a Millennial and a Boomer, suggesting that their differences made it challenging for these two generations to connect with one another. As a Baby Boomer myself, and parent to two Millennials (and one Gen Z), I often think there isn’t a generational gap between me and my children, but rather a cosmic divide of two completely different species. One species is practical, planful, respectful, caring, and picks up after themselves and the other is…not. And if it isn’t clear which is which, I am the first species and my children are the second. However, I hazard a guess that my mother would have expressed the exact same complaint.

As a marketer, I’ve been taught to segment, target, and focus in order to build buyer personas and journey maps. And I believe in the benefit of focusing my efforts on specific segments to tailor my approach so as to ensure relevance to their needs. But as I sat in the session with the Millennial and the Boomer, I was struck by how surreal the situation felt. Here was an audience, largely comprised of Boomers and some Gen Xers, observing the Millennial as if we were on safari, observing an exotic animal in its natural habitat.

Boomer to Millennial: “What is it that you want from a brand?” Millennial: “I want an authentic experience.” As I sat in the audience, I couldn’t help but think, “Who wouldn’t want an authentic experience? Not me, I’m a Boomer. I want brands that lie to me. I want to be oversold.”  There is also a wealth of research focused on how Millennials think about work, such as this 2016 Gallup study which found that 87% of Millennials say “professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them in a job.” I may not be a millennial, but I want that as well. And I also want to make an impact, which tops the list of what millennials care about according to the Second Annual Korn Ferry Futurestep Millennial Survey.

Of course, there are legitimate differences. Millennials “have never known a world without computers” as MarketingTeacher.com points out. I have to learn new technologies. I look for the “how to” manual. I want the step-by-step instruction guide. I don’t want to break anything and I also don’t want to look foolish. Millennials just know how to use a new device or app. They are fearless, and were seemingly born knowing. And they are much more comfortable sharing details of their lives that I was raised to believe were just too personal to share, or frankly too boring for anyone else to care about. But these are the main differences I see and not the 598,000 search results that appear when you Google “millennial differences.”

So, what does any of this have to do with face-to-face marketing and the trade show business? Well, it is a fact that our attendee demographics have and will continue to change. And our workforce is changing too. It is a good idea to be mindful that not everyone thinks like I do, likes the same music, or responds to the same popular cultural references. But I don’t think that means we need to obsess about generational differences as if we were conducting a scientific experiment or observing an alien species. Be cognizant of the most significant differences and their implications for event marketing by finding new ways to deliver your message to a changing audience. And embrace where there are similarities.

At the end of the day, I want to be “wowed” in an authentic way, just like my twenty-something colleagues. Even if they’ve never seen an episode of M*A*S*H.


The Significance of a Long-Term Partnership

Exhibit Concepts March 17, 2017

When you hear the word Partnership, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a reliable friend or coworker, one you can count on through the ups and downs of life. For LexisNexis, Partnership goes much deeper than simply being helpful or delivering on a promise.

Speaking of which, our partnership with LexisNexis has spanned over thirty years. They are one of our longest term clients, which make this particular relationship all the more meaningful.  

We are proud to partner with LexisNexis for their robust trade show program, helping them to bring their company’s vision to life on the show floor – and beyond. Partnership is about a personal touch and a lasting relationship that lets you know you aren’t just a number. It’s also a mutually beneficial relationship that offers support and guidance along the path to a destination.

Partnership is an all-encompassing idea, which means offering practical suggestions, listening to what clients have to say, and meeting a target budget. Our team brings that (and more) to the table. But you shouldn’t take our word for it; we believe our clients say it best.

4 Reasons Your Trade Show Program Needs a Timeline

Exhibit Concepts March 07, 2017

By Bart Sakosky, VP of Production

When Mick Jagger proclaimed that time was on his side, I can’t help but wonder if he was actually talking about timelines. They are a great way to use time to your advantage. At Exhibit Concepts, we believe that creating an inclusive, realistic timeline is critical to a successful project, particularly when it comes to optimizing productivity. Better yet, it makes putting time on your side a real possibility.  

When considering the art of productivity, the Japanese serve as a compelling example of successfully changing an industry with a simple philosophy about waste: Muda. Translated, it means “futility; uselessness; wastefulness” also known as lean manufacturing.  This approach to eliminating waste has completely transformed the heart of the automotive industry. It has guided many automakers to properly allocate resources in order to find the most effective way to increase profitability. 

The elimination of waste is also very important in the trade show industry, and one of the aspects we have focused on is using a timeline to guide us to a path of prosperous productivity. With over 80,000 square feet devoted to manufacturing and prep at our headquarters in Dayton, Ohio and another 10,000 square feet in our Chicago office, efficiency is key. Creating a detailed timeline and sticking to it from concept through all phases of production and shipment is how we get there.

Here are a few ways timelines can benefit your trade show program:

1.    Reap the Rewards of Anticipation
While we cannot predict everything, there are many trade shows that our clients attend consistently, year after year. When we know a show is coming, our team can properly allocate resources to deliver the best possible experience for clients. 

Better yet, incorporating the trade shows we know will occur gives us flexibility to handle the other shows that appear in the schedule along the way. 

2.    Time to Take Responsibility
Timelines aren’t just about scheduling; assigning responsible parties to each task along the way is a crucial component. The success of any company lies with good communication, and making individuals responsible for the outcome of important tasks is essential. Likewise, client responsibility should be noted in the document. Ownership and accountability ensures all parties stay on track and sets expectations with great clarity.  

3.    Decrease Stress & Reduce Errors
We are human, and human beings make mistakes. It’s just par for the course in any industry.  However, when timelines are compressed, stress increases and stress can sometimes lead to errors. Creating and sticking to a comfortable timeline ensures we catch any mistakes along the way and have the time to fix them before they become a serious problem. 

As an added bonus, this can bring peace of mind, project readiness, accurate and dependable delivery, and ultimately our client’s overall fulfillment of their project. 

4.    Inspiring Perpetual Learning
The best thing any of us can be is a student of life. This means allowing ourselves to learn from our mistakes while also finding new ways to produce a better outcome. We are always learning and we are always making changes to streamline processes, increase profitability, and ultimately deliver a seamless experience for our clients. 

With dozens of tasks attached to each show’s timeline, trade show managers rely on our ability to maintain cohesion between each stage of the process. Exhibit Concepts’ transparency with each task helps our clients identify, participate, and take ownership in the timeline. The result is a successful show for all involved.  And like The Rolling Stones also said, “You can’t always get what you want.” But if we embrace timelines and stick to them, we can get a good outcome.

Inspiring Spaces Drive Inspiration

Exhibit Concepts February 09, 2017

There’s a saying: changing your perspective changes your experience.

As a company focused on the design and production of branded environments, we believe that statement to be true; and that is one of the main drivers behind our strategic business investments. Our sales and leadership teams recently headed to Aileron in Tipp City, Ohio just north of Dayton to do just that: discuss the current state of our business and collaboratively forge a path to continued growth.

Specifically, Exhibit Concepts is aggressively growing our commercial interiors and international trade show business. These segments of our business are led by Jeff Hannah, VP of International Services & Commercial Interiors. Jeff joined Exhibit Concepts during the summer of 2016 after leading multicultural teams in the strategic development of complex projects in over 50 countries for many of the world’s top brands.

Jeff oversees the strategic growth of ECI’s business in these categories. He helps clients develop a comprehensive and strategic approach to their face-to-face marketing programs outside the U.S. In addition to being a wealth of knowledge about exhibiting in a host of international cities and venues, Jeff brings a unique focus on the cultural aspects of working across borders. His work in commercial interiors combines a designer’s deeper understanding of the unique requirements of executive briefing centers (EBCs), retail build-outs, corporate lobbies, showrooms, and mobile marketing vehicles with a passion for enhancing the brand experience.

Aileron is an organization with a mission to “unleash the potential of private business through professional management” with business advisors and a unique facility that provides endless inspiration for small businesses, supporting business owners, presidents, and CEOs that are forging a path in their respective industries. We believe it’s just good business to strategize in a meaningful way in order to grow with purpose. And the Aileron facility is just that inspirational space to bring our team together.

Aileron has a special meaning to our company, as we had a role in the build and installation of many design aspects of the building’s interior. We are proud to partner with such an innovative organization that does so much to support the men and women working to foster and grow their small businesses. 

2 Crucial Considerations: How to Understand What Goes on in the Boardroom

Exhibit Concepts February 02, 2017

By Ellen Campbell-Kaminski, VP of Marketing 

It’s a question that has plagued event marketers for decades: what happens behind the scenes in the companies you work with to pitch your product or service? Why are some projects green-lighted and others that seemed a “sure thing” canceled altogether? This question was recently posed at the EDPA ACCESS 2016 annual conference. The good news: it is possible to demystify this issue with a better understanding of how companies operate and decision-making models.

Consideration One: Get a better understanding of the organizational characteristics of the company.

Think about a particular client and ask yourself: which resources are dedicated and which are shared? Exhibit managers and Event marketers are typically shared resources, managing multiple priorities and the (often conflicting) expectations of internal stakeholders.

Many of these individuals are drowning in data and responsibilities. So, what are they looking for? It’s a partner that is:

•    Empathetic - Most people just want to be heard and understood. 
•    Proactive - Help keep them on track by reaching out about upcoming projects well in advance.
•    Solution-Oriented - Always offer new ideas and suggestions for improvement.

Also, think about who in the organization is responsible for achieving revenue targets. Larger organizations tend to be highly matrixed which often means that multiple people have revenue goals and often there are both vertical and horizontal and shared goals.  This can lead to conflicts, especially when one group is not performing according to plan.

Understanding organizational structures and how different divisions are performing can help predict when last minute changes to the tradeshow plan are likely. For example, when a division is underperforming, you might get last minute requests for extra demo stations. Tracking and researching your clients and their philosophy is the best way to become familiar with how an organization operates. 

This is best achieved by:

•    Asking questions - Ask key contacts and senior leaders how the company is doing, on a regular basis. Are new products in the works?
•    Reading the company’s annual report
•    Tracking data and news

Consideration Two: Understand common event scenarios that compel a company to have or modify their tradeshow presence and conduct stakeholder analysis to anticipate their likely perspective.

•    Major new product launch: The Company has a new product that will be introduced at an industry-specific trade show. 
•    Acquisition/Integration: Company A was purchased by Company B, introducing recently integrated Company C to the industry. 

The Takeaway:

•    What implications do the different characteristics of the target company have on your account plans?
•    What questions can you ask during discovery to identify organizational structure and decision-making culture?
•    Who are the key decision makers and how can you positively influence them?
•    What signals can you look for to indicate a deal might be veering off course?

You can’t always discern what goes on in the boardroom. But if you think through organization structures, analyze how decisions are made and how success is measured, and track a company’s news, you will be far better positioned when the inevitable changes come.

Top 5 Trade Show Trends for 2017

Exhibit Concepts January 20, 2017

By Jeff Korchinski, VP of Sales & Creative

If there is one constant in the trade show industry, it is this: there is always some new development or trend emerging. As the new year is well underway, I’m excited for another great year of innovation in the trade show industry. Here are five (5) trends that I think are here to stay. As you work your events and walk show floors, keep an eye out for these.

Trend One: It’s All about Technology

It will come as no surprise that incorporating technology into trade show spaces will continue to be a major trend in 2017, as it has in years past. It’s the topic on everyone’s mind. We are a highly connected society and the tradeshow floor is no exception; visitors are expecting information to be delivered in new, innovative ways.

Technology doesn’t need to be complicated, however: it can be as simple as a touch screen or the incorporation of small devices like Bluetooth® beacons that integrate with client’s products. Bringing these items into a space helps draw people in, while also gathering data and delivering a brand’s message in a compelling way.

At Exhibit Concepts, we have an Engagement Strategist on staff who actively works to assist our account executives in incorporating technology into trade show environments for our clients.

Trend Two: Keep a Human Touch

Creative BriefWhile technology is can be paramount in attracting visitors to your booth, it should never be at the expense of quality human interaction. An authentic conversation is still your most valuable asset. It should add another layer to what a company brings to the table. There is no better way to uncover and understand customers’ needs than by properly staffing trade show spaces with the right people who are excellent listeners. And make sure that they are properly trained on your brand story.

Look for booths that draw visitors in with unique elements that engage the senses while also delivering a meaningful message delivered in an honest and compelling way

Trend Three: Make it Personal

Every client wants to stand out from their competitors. They need solutions that are crafted to their specific needs in order to step up their presence and be noticed. A custom exhibit is the best way to deliver a truly personal, unique experience for visitors. A unique problem requires a unique solution that captures the essence of a brand while also delivering key messages to the audience.

2017 will be the year to focus on innovative booth designs that support and enhance a brand’s promise and stands out on the show floor- and from the crowd.  

Trend Four: Mind the Budget

While custom exhibits work for many clients, others face tight budgetary challenges. The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice your presence at shows for the sake of the budget. You can leverage rental solutions and unique engagement approaches in a truly memorable way. It’s true: you can stand out without breaking the bank. Rental solutions allow brands to repurpose and reuse materials and properties. When done right, with fresh graphics and other elements, rental solutions appear custom and add great value to your company’s marketing efforts.

Keep an eye out for trade show spaces that deliver meaningful messages without big investment- and still produce compelling results.

Trend Five: Find New Ways to Engage

2017 will be all about engagement. The focus will be on finding creative ways to get people out of the aisles and into the booth with fresh, new ideas. Whether it’s incorporating technology or acquiring data in a unique way, booths should draw visitors in and get them talking and keep them wanting more. Delivering a compelling user experience is all the rage- and for good reason.

The team at Exhibit Concepts recently brought engagement into a trade show space with a social aggregator for Kellogg's. This engagement successfully increased social media traffic and pulled visitors into their space with a creative solution. The concept was simple but effective for the brand: booth visitors took a photo with Tony the Tiger, and then entered their information into a social aggregator to share with friends on social platforms. Engagement doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be compelling.

I’m excited to see how these trends and others progress throughout the coming year; what trends are you seeing as you walk the show floor?

The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News