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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Sierra Smith

It’s the Thought That Counts

Sierra Smith March 04, 2020

Nearly every business faces significant competition. When a prospect decides to choose you, saying “thank you” might not feel like enough. This is even more true when a client gives you a referral or comes back for repeat work.

A handwritten thank you card or phone call from a company executive goes a long way. But if you are looking for more unique ways to express your gratitude, take a lesson from Steven Lowry, Account Executive for Exhibit Concepts.



Every year for nearly 20 years, Lowry sends customized gift baskets full of goodies to his clients at the end of the year. However, his gift baskets are anything but ordinary. Each year, Lowry selects a theme that focuses on a particular project. In 2017, the basket’s focus was on Mississippi specific items that showcased our work with the Civil Rights Museum and in 2018, the Dr. Sarah Jandrucko Academy for Early Learners in Mansfield, Texas. This year, the basket will focus on our work with the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oakridge, Tennessee. As an added touch of detail, these baskets are in the shape of the state we completed the project.

Sending a customized gift basket to your clients adds an element of “surprise and delight,” as we call it. Food is always appreciated, but any item that shows you understand your client and are genuinely grateful for their business works.


Do you have clients coming into town? Consider surprising them with a care package at their hotel. Let’s face it, business travel can sometimes be overwhelming. You’re trying to balance travel with work while also tending to things at home. When they check-in at their hotel, receiving a gift bag that might include waters, teas, bath salts or other stress relievers is a surprise that takes those worries away, even if for a brief moment.


Business people at the meeting at the lunch buffet

When clients are in town, we generally opt for a dinner out. While this is always fun and appreciated, you can take a step further by providing your clients with a home-cooked meal.

“This tradition goes all the way back to our founder, Ned Brown,” said Lowry. “Our meetings are often in-house, and offering a home-cooked meal allows us to avoid the stress and logistics of traveling elsewhere, and clients are very appreciative.”

Before you gather supplies and hit the stove, be sure to ask about any food allergies or specifications to ensure a positive experience.


Some clients may have company policies prohibiting the receipt of gifts as this may be viewed as a conflict of interest. Understand and respect your client’s policies or run the risk of putting them in an awkward position having to return the gift. In some cases, the policy has a dollar amount limitation and you can stay below this amount and still provide the gift. Or you can make a donation to a charity of their choosing which often is not violating the policy. In any event, you should always send the hand written “thank you”.


Flower cuttings being prepared to be arranged to make a bouquet.

Before a new museum, exhibit, or gallery opens, Lowry always sends the client flowers as a means to celebrate their achievement.

If your client has hit a milestone such as opening a new gallery, launched a new product or completed a rebranding initiative flowers and a card are always a nice touch. If you’re not feeling flowers, you can swap them out for chocolates, a catered lunch, or baked goods such as cookies or cakes decorated like the client’s logo.

No matter how you decide to show your appreciation, any gesture will have value. Day in and day out, we work tirelessly to satisfy and delight clients, and ultimately, that’s what they appreciate the most.

The most important thing when showing your appreciation is not how much you spend, but in being genuine and demonstrating that you truly understand them, appreciate their business and will be there to help them solve any problems they might have.

Fundraising for Your Museum through Digital Campaigns (Part Two for Museum Web Teams)

Sierra Smith February 25, 2020

Chances are, if you’re fundraising for a new museum gallery or exhibit, digital marketing is a critical element of your campaign. In part one, we discussed how to create content that will drive action from your audience. In part two, we’ll discuss how to promote this content effectively to reach potential donors.

Create a Fundraising Campaign

Your content is written and almost ready for publishing. Now what? Create a web link to include in your content that allows your audience to donate easily. The easiest way to create a donation link is through a crowdfunding site such as GoFundMe or even Facebook. Or you likely already have an ecommerce component to your museum website as donations are always welcome.

We recommend using a third-party platform, as these securely collect funding with little maintenance on your or the donor’s part. Set up will vary depending on the platform you choose, but for the most part, you’ll need the bank account information for where donations will flow. As you’re making a selection, pay attention to any fees that may incur as your audience donates. We recommend using Facebook as it’s easy to set up, and non-profits do not have to pay fees.

Once your donation link is live and tested, add a call-to-action for donations to each piece of content you’ll be promoting.

Promote Socially

There’s power in sharing. Once you create your content, your donation link is set up, and media outlets are aware of your project, it’s time to promote in your networks. Identify the channels you’d like to promote your cause on and make sure to post at least once a week. As you’re posting, mix up the post type and publish links, images, or videos. When publishing images or videos, be sure to include your donation or story links, so you’re not missing opportunities to collect funding.

As you’re posting, you must keep an eye on your platform data. Consistently evaluating your posts and frequency will help you make educated decisions that will result in improvements. The most important, meaningful metrics to track are shares, comments, and link clicks. Engagement pushes your posts into more feeds, and link clicks result in conversions. For example, if you’re primarily posting photos and they’re getting a ton of engagement and reach but no donations, consider switching your post type to a link to make the call-to-action (CTA) clear to your audience.

Don’t limit social posts to just your museum’s page, either. Each time you publish a new story or post, send an e-mail to your institution’s volunteers or employees and encourage them to share. There’s strength in numbers, and studies have found that employees account for most of an organization’s engagement!

Start an E-mail Campaign

If you have a list of e-mails from folks that opted into to your newsletter, this is an excellent opportunity to target them.

Create a series of e-mails specific to each piece of fundraising content. In short bursts, briefly tease your audience to click on your web links, similar to how you would with social. Mix up the media forms within the body, such as text, images, or videos.

In most e-mail software, you’re able to run A/B tests to determine what media forms are catching the best with your audience. Test varying subject lines, body copy, or media formats, so in later e-mails, you know what’s going to perform well right out of the gate.

As you create new e-mail bursts, be sure to include related links to past promoted content. This will help each story continue to gain momentum throughout the campaign.

Hyperlink Wherever You Can

Speaking of including relevant links, make sure you’re using your website’s real estate wisely. On your website’s homepage, create banners that will link to your fundraising campaign’s relevant links. This is a good opportunity to link to the fundraising page, rather than content directly. If your website has a blog, be sure to include the latest stories on the homepage to grab audience members that might be a little cold to donating.

Within each story created, include related links back to previous content, like you would in your e-mail bursts. This ensures your stories won’t die off through the life of your campaign.

Extra Budget

If you have extra money to use for your fundraising efforts, consider creating a paid campaign on Facebook, Google, or any other social or search platform you deem worthy.

Create a mixture of ads to A/B test through the campaign’s life cycle. Link directly to the fundraising page and to your content to better determine which format is driving the most web traffic and conversions. As you would with your regular social posts, mix up the media formats. This testing will help you determine how to position your content effectively through your organic efforts.

If you need help setting up a campaign, troubleshooting, or making sure your ads meet best practices, be sure to check for resources on the platform where your ads are running. You can also check out best practice resources such as SocialMediaToday.com, SocialMediaExaminer.com, Moz.com, or NeilPatel.com.

These tips give you the basic fundamentals for creating a successful digital campaign. As you collect donations, understand that it’s all trial and error. What might work for your museum may not work for another. And what works this month, may not work six months from now. Continue to test, adjust, optimize, and you’ll get the results you need.

Do you need help creating a new exhibit, gallery, or museum? Let’s talk.

Fundraising for Your Museum through Digital Storytelling (Part One for Museum Storytellers)

Sierra Smith February 19, 2020

Fundraising for a new exhibit, gallery, or museum can be challenging. With a variety of digital tools at your disposal and finicky algorithms, it might feel like those efforts are a ton of work with little return.

Despite hit or miss results, with a set plan, networking, and digital assets, it’s possible to raise extra money for your project. In our experience, the best way to motivate behavior change is through persuasive storytelling. For a museum, this is something you do best.

Step-by-step, here’s how you can utilize digital storytelling to enhance your fundraising efforts for a new exhibit, gallery, or museum:

Research & Plan


We begin a lot of these tip blogs with a “research” section, but it’s necessary if you want your campaign to succeed. Share with your team your goals, objective and target funding. Then brainstorm strategies to achieve those goals. What tactics will you use? What is the call-to-action? What is the message you want your audience to take away?

In addition, ask yourself, who will you be targeting with your digital campaign? What will drive donations? Look at your museum’s current visitor data to see what you can find about those you want to target. You may also consider surveying your community to get feedback on what they’d like to see in your exhibits.

With clarity around your objectives, target audience and messaging, the elements of your campaign will start to take shape. Will you place digital ads? What social platforms will you place your focus? Who will you partner with to promote your fundraiser? Ultimately, these factors must be determined before you begin promotion.

Tell Your Story, Make Them Feel

Concentrated bearded young man using laptop while his friends studying together

The most effective means of fundraising online is to tell your museum’s story and make the audience feel something. Once you’ve established key elements, plan a calendar of content to promote on your website that will drive to your fundraiser. Creating content is a sure-fire way to generate web traffic and awareness through search engines. When creating your content, research keywords, keyword phrases, identify imagery or videos to pair, interview subjects, and gather sources to cite.

When you assemble all the pertinent information to produce your content, begin the writing process. According to the Search Engine Journal, search engines favor content with a 2,000 or more word count that explores a topic more in-depth. When producing your content, weave your researched keywords and keyword phrases into your articles. Take care to organically include targeted words into your content, as search engines consider this “keyword stuffing” for the sole purpose of ranking high.

While writing, get emotional. The best way to appeal to any audience is to make them feel some sort of emotion, rather than just providing the facts. It’s critical that you accurately present the information, but ask yourself, would I read this if I was outside of my organization? How would I feel reading this? If the answer is that you wouldn’t read it, or you find it dry, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Chances are if you’re not interested, neither is your audience.

As you’re concluding each piece of content, describe the scope of your project, reiterate its importance, and provide instructions on how the reader can donate. Once you’ve roped them in with the story, it’s much easier to spur a donation than asking for the funding outright.

Partner with Media Outlets

Partnering with your local news outlets is a great way to reach your audience, fast. Write press releases that discuss your project, link to your content, and the donation page that you can send to your local newspaper, radio, or TV stations. As you create new content or release new information, make sure to keep your media partners in the loop.

When you submit press releases, media outlets can quickly write articles linking to your cause on their website at no charge to you. Chances are, the outlet will promote that content on their social channels, in their newsletters, or on their homepages, which gives your cause great visibility. In some cases, as stories begin to trend, their sister stations in other states or national outlets might pick your story up.

Even if an outlet decides not to pick up your story, it never hurts to send content along and develop those relationships for the future.

Fundraising or running campaigns through digital channels can be challenging, but not impossible. You don’t need fancy graphics and flashy tools to create a successful campaign; you just need a story. Be human, and the donations will flow.

Look out next week for Part Two: Fundraising for Your Museum through Digital Campaigns (for Museum Web Teams).

The Elements of a Good Creative Brief

Sierra Smith February 13, 2020

A successful trade show requires a lot of planning, strategy and attention to details. And there are a lot of stakeholders and partners involved to host a successful event. Different forms, documents and presentations will be needed to communication your vision to the team.

A creative brief is one of the more important communication documents in your repertoire. The brief articulates your needs, your vision, requirements, and gets your team and your exhibit house on the same page. A good, strategic exhibit house will likely have a creative brief template for you to complete. They may even complete one as a result of Discovery meetings with you and your team. If they don’t and you need to write your own, there are several elements it should include to ensure your booth is translated from paper to structure. And that your visitor’s experience is everything you hoped it would be.Great plan for success achieving


Your creative brief should include necessary, simple information such as the show name, the date of the show, venue location, booth number, orientation, and contact information for the designer’s primary point of contact. This helps the designer stay organized through the course of the project.


This is the fundamental reason you’re exhibiting at all. Why are you attending the trade show, and how will you measure success? What brands will you be showcasing? What problems are you trying to solve for either your brand or attendees with this booth? Answering these fundamental questions will get the creative juices flowing.


What deliverables will you require for this experience? This section will outline your needs for the designer, such as audience information, brand information, and environmental information. You should include the type of build you’d like (custom, rental, existing property update, or undecided), the configuration, and size. Your timeline, the primary function of the booth, budget, and timeline should be defined.

Budget is a critical element of the brief. Be clear on how much you have for the booth structure, how much is available for engagement and how much is available for services. Often brands don’t want to divulge budget information for fear that the exhibit house will not look for economical solutions. But it is far more frustrating to fall in love with a design that is significantly over budget. At the very least, give your exhibit house budget ranges for the design.

Who is your target audience? What demographic and behavioral details can you provide to the design team. If you have any research or findings, it’s extremely helpful to include this in the brief. An excellent exercise to complete before submitting a brief is to create audience personas. This will help you narrow and strategically target them with the right message at the right time not only at trade shows but across all your marketing efforts.

This section should also include pertinent brand information, such as brand position in the market, what sets you apart from the competition, new features and benefits, tagline and focus. Your brand’s personality and voice should also be defined.


This section will define how you expect to reach your goals. You need to determine how your attendees will experience your products and services. Will you be conducting demos? Will you be hosting one-on-one meetings with prospects? Will you hold group presentations in the booth?


You’ll also need to outline the actions you want attendees to take once they’re in your booth, as well as any outside efforts like sponsorships, hospitality events, news or PR, and campaigns that are happening in relation to the show.


There will be elements you’ll absolutely need for the experience to be successful. This could include display screens, special lighting, or charging stations. You may also outline any venue requirements the designer should be aware of, such as booth height or hanging sign restrictions. Also, any creative elements you need like specific branding can be outlined here.


If you have any images that inspire your vision, include them so the designer can think about the look and feel of your booth. You might also include any supporting documents such as brand guidelines, creative guidelines, or campaign information they can reference.

Whether it’s required or not, a creative brief can make all the difference when creating a trade show booth. If you’re in need of a template, we have one to help you get started! If you need a little extra help bringing your ideas to life, we’re here to help.

Pre-Show Meetings: How to Engage Your Booth Staff via Telepresence (Part Two)

Sierra Smith February 03, 2020

Pre-show meetings are a key element when preparing staff for a trade show. They get everyone on the same page, establish your “why,” goals, and objectives, and ensure your staff will know what to do once their boots are on the ground.

In part one, we discussed tactics and best practices for pre-show meetings that are held in person. In part two, we will provide tactics and factors you need to consider when holding a pre-show meeting via telephone, webinar, or video chat.


When your staff is all over the country, it can be difficult to plan the logistics of a pre-show meeting. You have to consider schedules, the location, and the budget it will take to bring everyone together. In this case, it may be best to hold your pre-show meeting by phone, webinar, or video conference.


Cindy Spohr, who managed the Librarian Relations Group for LexisNexis, held all her pre-show meetings for the AALL (American Association of Law Libraries) show via telepresence. “Our team was spread across the country. From our perspective, we all had to fly in early to meet, or our meeting had to be done on the phone. We didn’t have the option of in-person, which forced this approach,” said Spohr.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine what will work best for your team. If your team is remote and will require an additional budget for travel to your meeting, it’s best to save the cash for the show floor.


Like so many things in life, virtual meetings have their pros and they have their cons. When you hold a meeting via phone or webinar, you won’t be able to see your staff and their reactions. With any form of telepresence technology, it’s also possible you might experience glitches or software failure. Before you begin your meeting, it’s important to test your software to ensure it’s functioning properly.

When it comes to selecting the best form of software to hold your meeting, it depends on the type of presentation you’re giving and the technology available to you. If you have a PowerPoint loaded with information, a webinar or video chat is the best means of delivery. If your information is simple and can be delivered verbally with a one-sheet following up, a phone call will suffice.

The content should not be different, whether you’re hosting the meeting in-person or remote. Spohr reiterates that when you open the meeting, you should establish the “why” for the show along with your goals and objectives.

“You’re answering the big-picture questions such as, “why are we all here in this meeting? Why are we spending time and money to go to this event,” said Spohr. She finds that the best way to establish your why is to research compelling statistics in your industry that show the benefits of face-to-face marketing and engaging customers and prospects in a trade show setting. “Instilling this data in folks helps them remember why we’re there, what our role is, how we engage, and how our customers will react,” said Spohr.

As with in-person meetings, make sure you’ve prepared an agenda or other pre-show handouts so that your staff can reference necessary information after the meeting. Spohr recommends sending the deck with notes, schedules, one-sheets, or creating an internal website that staff can access any time with all the pertinent information.


Just as discussed in part one, time, and the form of your meeting still matter. Before you hit your staff’s calendars with a meeting invite, double-check time zones, and schedules. Spohr recommends limiting your meeting to 30 minutes and hitting the most critical points during that timeframe.

“I could have spent eight hours telling my group the ins and outs of our show strategy, but it’s important just to hit the highlights. Information such as schedules, the booth walk-through, or show location can all be looked up later,” said Spohr. Spohr also notes that it’s optimal to hold your meeting a week before the show.

“You don’t want to do it too early or too late. You need to find that sweet spot to ensure there won’t be any major changes to your trade show strategy or booth after the meeting. For us, the week or a few days before the show worked best,” said Spohr.

And once on site, get your team together in person for a walk-through of the booth. It is one thing to cover booth design in your PowerPoint and quite another to experience it live and in-person. This is especially important if you have had to host your pre-meeting virtually.


When it comes to selecting the best form of software to hold your meeting, it depends on the type of presentation you’re giving and the technology available to you. If you have a PowerPoint loaded with information, a webinar or video chat is the best means of delivery. If your information is simple and can be delivered verbally with a one-sheet following up, a phone call will suffice.

Whether by phone, webinar, video chat, or in-person, your pre-show meeting sets the stage for your trade show. If everyone isn’t on the same page, the experience created in your booth could be jeopardized. If you establish your “why,” educate, and motivate your staff, it will be impossible to fail. Do you need help getting your team on the same page? We can help.


Pre-Show Meetings: How to Engage Your Booth Staff In Person (Part One)

Sierra Smith January 30, 2020

The last thing we want to do is sit in a meeting with no purpose.

Everyone has experienced this. You sit down, make small talk, and the meeting begins. There’s no agenda, no takeaway, and everyone leaves flustered and ill-prepared to take on the next steps.

Not setting an agenda, goals, and objectives with your booth staff is a sure-fire way to destroy morale. This is not just an investment for your company, it’s an investment for those attending, too. They’re taking time away from their families, friends, and responsibilities to travel and work your exhibit. This is why hosting a pre-show meeting is critical – you establish the “why,” set goals for your staff, and prepare them to be successful and energized.

In part one of our pre-meeting series, we’ll discuss tactics and best practices for in-person pre-show meetings. Before you hit your staff’s calendar, here are tactics and factors to consider that will equip your team with the knowledge and tools they need to execute on the show floor.


Why are you exhibiting?

Seems like a silly question to ask, but this is the fundamental reason why you’d host a pre-show meeting at all. If your staff doesn’t understand the why, they won’t know what to do and will likely go rogue. Providing your team with the exhibit’s “why” will give them their “why.”

Months ago, you made the decision to exhibit at this conference or host this event. The fundamental reason you are making the investment in this event is your “why”. Once you’ve solidified the “why,” you need to establish the goals and objectives that pair with it. At least six months before a trade show or major events, this planning should take place. All involved parties should be included in this process to solidify all that needs to be accomplished on the show floor. Once the goals, objectives, and overarching messaging of the trade show is prepared, it’s time to begin planning your pre-show meeting.


The common reasons that pre-show meetings fail is because of lack of preparation or inconvenient location or timing.

Optimizing your meeting space and time is conducive to your staff’s success. If budget or time allows, selecting a meeting space that will inspire learning will help things stick in your staff’s minds. This could be a hotel conference room, a conference room in your office, a space rented offsite, or if it’s nice, outside.

business people group on meeting at modern bright office indoors. Senior  businessman as leader in discussion.

“You want to take as much care in choosing your environment as you would identifying participants. Choosing a space that is light, airy, and colorful will help ideas and conversation flow freely,” said Ellen Kaminski, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Exhibit Concepts.

Depending on the space, Kaminski also recommends including upbeat music and changing the seating. This could be arranging chairs in a circle or even asking participants to stand. By providing stimuli and setting the scene, you’ll better engage your team.

Space isn’t the only consideration. Setting your time and creating an agenda to follow will help you organize the meeting’s content to ensure you’re touching on each critical piece of information your team needs.

When setting the time, consider how far out you are from the event, the complexity of your training, and who needs to be included. Ideally, you’ll want to deliver materials and training in 45 minutes. However, if your team needs trained on lead generation systems, products, or presentations, this might exceed 45 minutes. If your meeting will exceed two hours, be sure to provide your team with ten minute breaks so they can refresh and reset.

Hosting your meeting a week before the event is optimal, as to keep the information fresh. If you host the meeting too far in advance or too close to the show, you risk your staff not retaining what they learned from your training, which will result in SNAFUs on the show floor.


Standing in front of an audience while reading PowerPoint slides isn’t going to cut it. If you want your staff to retain all the information they need for the show, it’s going to take creativity and some enthusiasm to get them pumped up to perform.

Before the meeting, make sure you send an agenda or other pre-show handouts so that beforehand, your team has the “why,” goals, and objectives served on a silver platter. This will help them feel better prepared and gives them something to reference at the meeting or in the booth if they get stuck.

Just because you’re holding a meeting doesn’t mean it has to be dry and boring, either. A great way to engage your staff is through video content that delivers your training materials. This can be done in a fun, lighthearted way rather than just a talking head.


Games are another fun, educational, and persuasive tactic to get your staff engaged. Especially, if there’s an element of competition and reward for the winner. This could be exhibiting bingo, a listening quiz, or role playing game. If someone wins, you could award them food such as candy or gift cards to entice the group to play.


Once you’re at the show, it’s critical that you do a run through with your booth staff before the show opens. When the booth is set up and finalized, take time with your staff to reiterate important information, walk through the booth to get a feel for the traffic flow, practice demos, engagements, and presentations.

However you choose to conduct your pre-show meeting, it’s important that you reiterate three crucial things with your staff: Why are we attending this show? What are our goals? What is your role? If you can answer and establish these three questions, your staff is guaranteed to succeed.

Tune in next week for part two, which gives event marketers tips on how to engage staff in a pre-show meeting by telepresence.

Interpretive Planning: The Benefits, Process, and What to Expect

Sierra Smith January 21, 2020

Interpretive plans are vital, living, breathing documents used to lay the groundwork for institutions such as museums or education centers. They define the goals, objectives, audience, mission, and vision. Stakeholders and the design team work together to identify themes and subthemes and map the visitor experience. This document plays a critical role in taking a space from concept to reality.

It's risky to design and build a space without an interpretive plan. The design team guides you and your stakeholders through every aspect of the space – from your visitor’s first impression in the parking lot to what your visitors remember once they are home. An interpretive plan establishes credibility and puts stakeholders and the design team on the same page.

"Through this process, the ultimate goal is to make connections with the audience visiting the exhibit or space. It goes back to the question asked in the beginning; what do we want them to think, feel, or do," said Jerry Spangler, Vice President of Project Management for Exhibit Concepts.

When fundraising for a space, an interpretive plan is an investment that gives validity to the design partner’s methodology and process. "Donors or organizations issuing grants, of course, expect you to have experience in this game," said Matthew Brandeberry, Senior Designer for Exhibit Concepts. "An interpretive plan proves the designer's methodology. You can set it down in front of anyone, and they're able to understand and see the institution's vision."


In some cases, it allows stakeholders to revisit or crystallize their institution's identity. "Some go through this process and prior to that, may not have taken a concrete look at themselves. It gives them a chance to revisit their identity and intent, and it gives us the chance to create interesting, informative conversations that spark that," said Brandeberry.

The process for creating an interpretive plan will vary by partner. Exhibit Concepts approaches interpretive planning in two phases. First, an internal workshop is held between our teams and stakeholders, which is an intensive workshop that establishes the goals, objectives, target audience, and layout of the space.

In the second workshop, we work with the museum’s stakeholders to identify themes and subthemes, potential media approaches, and mapping the experience. In detail, our team runs through each section of the plan and addresses questions or concerns. Before the meeting wraps-up, we verify approval on each part of the plan and following the meeting, make adjustments, and submit the final version.

No two interpretive plans will be formatted the same, but there are fundamental deliverables you should expect from potential design partners. When an interpretive plan is hot off the press, it should include the following:

Table of Contents

The Table of Contents gives readers an overview of the plan at a glance. Especially when referencing the plan after approval, it's helpful to know where you'll find specific sections you might need.

The Introduction

In the Introduction of an interpretive plan, your design partner will define interpretive planning and outline the importance and benefits. This section is especially helpful for justifying the methodology and investment to stakeholders.

Planning Overview

The visitors, goals, and outcomes are defined, and the experience is mapped. This section is the heart of the plan, as all later methodology will tie back to the identified goals and outcomes outlined here.

"You'll continue to refer back to the goals in an interpretive plan. Everything is designed with the institution's principles in mind. This is what keeps everyone in line and creates consistency," said Brandeberry.

Design & Content

The interpretive planner may provide theories and methodologies that will support the proposed design. Once the methodologies are defined, the themes and subthemes are described and solidified. Based on initial conversations with the institution, the interpretive planner will provide visual inspiration to showcase the best approach for displaying artifacts and collections in the space. Descriptions providing reasoning for each set of inspiration are equipped to support these suggestions.

Visual inspiration for the architectural style of the space is also provided in this section and will include a schematic plan showing the walkthrough. These plans are not cookie-cutter and may take on a variety of forms that will adequately characterize the identified themes and subthemes of the space. Outside of telling the stories, critical components of the space, such as restroom placement and architecture that make the space accessible to visitors that are disabled, are addressed.

Requirements, Parameters, and Implications

The interpretive planner will go over any restrictions or regulations that need to be considered, especially if the space is government regulated. If you're a state-run institution, what rules and regulations would we need to follow? Are there political or social boundaries that need to be respected? These are a few of the questions that might be addressed.

Implications and parameters connected to the logistics of the space are also discussed. For example, if the space includes A/V or technology engagements and the staff is primarily older volunteers, the engagements need to be placed where they can reach it without bending over or reaching up. For both the staff and visitor, recommendations for technology that is easy to use is recommended. The staff and training needed to maintain the space are discussed.

Other logistical implications related to the exhibits or objects are planned in this section. For example, if one room in the space is available to the public for event rentals, exhibits within the room should not be fixed. In this case, placing wheels on the display cases will allow staff to quickly and safely roll the exhibits away to prepare for set-up.

Project Overview

Planning the design, fabrication, and installation of the space are discussed here. The timeframe for each step in the process is established, and the budget is reviewed.

An interpretive plan is a substantial investment that provides both the institution and design partner with credibility. The document puts everyone on the same page and proves the method behind the magic. It crystallizes an institution's identity, messaging, and goals and ensures those will be clear and inspiring to visitors.

If your space is ready to spring to life, choosing a partner with this offering is a critical step in the process.

Don’t Panic: How to Relieve Stress When Planning a Trade Show Experience

Sierra Smith January 15, 2020

We’ve all experienced it, and we’re here to talk about it.

The trade show industry is stressful, and it never stops moving. You’re balancing timelines, emergencies, and your day-to-day tasks. When it’s show time, your stress is amplified with travel, VIP visitors, unforeseen emergencies and making sure everything is perfect for attendees.

Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help alleviate those stresses that won’t take up a ton of time. For your event to be successful, you need to be in the right state of mind and operating at 100%. Self-care is survival!

Here are four things you can do to calm a screaming brain:

Meditate and breathe


In moments where you can’t take some time to decompress, take a few minutes to meditate to clear your mind. According to the Mayo Clinic, meditating allows your brain to clear itself of information overload. There are a variety of meditation techniques you can take advantage of, but in moments of stress, “Mantra Meditation” is the most effective. To practice, you’ll silently repeat a calming word or phrase during a stressful event to distract your brain from any intrusive, negative thoughts.

Another tactic is to do some deep breathing for a few minutes. Take a breath in and count to ten and as you exhale, count to ten again. Repeat this a few times and focus on counting and breathing. This will also help calm your nerves in times of stress.



After a stressful day in the office, taking at least 30 minutes to exercise, will help calm your brain. Staying physically active causes your brain to release endorphins. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, endorphins are chemicals that act as natural painkillers and improve the ability to sleep, which results in a reduction of stress.

Even if you don’t have thirty minutes to exercise, scientists have found even just five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. If you’re not thrilled about intense cardio or weight lifting, walking at a brisk pace for thirty minutes works just as well.

Stimulate Your Senses


A comforting smell, your favorite song, or a warm beverage can help you calm your mind.

Engaging one or more of your senses is the fastest way to alleviate the pressure that comes with event marketing, or any stressful job. The way you engage your senses will require some experimentation, as it varies from person to person. What’s your favorite drink? Is there a scented candle you really enjoy? Is there a particular type of music that soothes your soul?

While sipping on a hot cup of tea won’t permanently take the stress away, it can help you clear your mind and reset so you’re able to handle what’s being thrown your way.

Get Some Rest


Yep, you probably guessed it. You need at least eight hours of sleep to operate at your very best.

According to the American Institute of Stress, adults who sleep less than eight hours a night are more likely to report symptoms of stress. Unfortunately, stress is also a common cause of a miserable night’s sleep.

To help your mind get some rest, put down your electronic devices one hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from devices suppresses the hormone melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. If you absolutely need to occupy your mind before bed, try a calming activity such as reading a book or journaling.

During the day, getting some exercise, and eating healthy, balanced meals will help your mind turn off when it comes time to hit the sheets.

No matter how you relieve stress, the bottom line is that YOU come first! To have a successful trade show event, you need to be operating at 100%. Unless it’s an absolute emergency, that e-mail or request can wait. Take care of yourself.

Green is the New Black: 3 Easy Ways to Make Your Booth Eco-Friendly

Sierra Smith January 08, 2020

Right now, moving toward eco-friendly and sustainable products is a necessity. Especially in our industry, where finding ways to reduce waste is a hot topic.

There are plenty of easy changes you can make to create a booth that’s not only eco-friendly but will save you money in the long run. Here are three eco-friendly, sustainable ideas you can implement right now:

Sustainable Giveaways

You can decrease your waste footprint by giving your attendees eco-friendly, sustainable items rather than opting for more wasteful products, such as plastics. In fact, some venues and show organizers are banning wasteful and harmful-to-the-environment items such as plastic straws, plastic bags and plastic water bottles. There are a variety of businesses you can order from that exclusively offer sustainable, customizable giveaway items. In early 2019, we had the pleasure of meeting with one of them at WBENC. EcoPlum, a business that sells “sustainable swag,” offers innovative, recycled, and compostable or reusable products that don’t end up in a landfill or the ocean.

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On their website, you’ll find recyclable items such as notebooks, pens, keychains, or reusable items like water bottles, mugs, or straws. EcoPlum also offers apparel, bags, outdoor and wellness, food, and other kitchen or office products. Your logo or messaging can be added to the item or items of your choice to keep your brand top of mind.
“Our big overall focus is encouraging companies to be more conscious of their buying. If they want to put their brand on a product, it should show their values, beliefs, and business practices,” said Marcia Robbins, Senior VP of Marketing and Strategy for EcoPlum.

Another company that we’ve fully vetted and used, Green Giftz, offers a variety of sustainable, promotional products. On their website, you’ll find apparel, bags, drinkware, office supplies, and more.

Rental Property

Many exhibit houses have extensive inventories of rental components (e.g. closets, reception counters and demo kiosks) that you can incorporate into your booth. There are financial advantages to owning your booth property and you can be sure that no other exhibitor will look like your space, renting a booth or booth components can create a new look for your next campaign.

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Creating a modular, rental exhibit will also help your company save money. Exclusively using panel systems such as beMatrix allows you to configure your booth into a variety of sizes and shapes, and easily accommodates new graphics show to show or year to year. This flexibility allows you to take on a new look at any show. 

Reusable Graphics

As your marketing campaigns change, so do your graphics. In some cases, it’s impossible to not swap out the old in favor of the new. However, when possible, it’s best to reuse graphics on your exhibits to reduce the amount of waste your booth is creating.


Like with your content marketing efforts, creating “evergreen” graphics that don’t stagnate over time will help you save money and reduce waste. Working with your internal marketing teams and your exhibit house to determine what can be reused is critical. If it’s not possible to reuse graphics, consider having your graphics printed on recyclable materials so they don’t end up in a landfill.
To ensure your trade show booth is green in 2020, work closely with your exhibit house to implement your changes the RIGHT way. It’s also good to be in constant communication about your exhibit house’s sustainability efforts, as you may be able to help them innovate and shift.

Do you need help creating a modular, reusable exhibit? Let’s talk!

2020 Trade Show Planning: Exhibit Concepts’ Most Useful Resources

Sierra Smith December 31, 2019

This year was incredibly productive for our business – from the shop to the office, our employees hustled non-stop to create memorable client experiences.

In partnership with industry experts across our organization, we’ve created a variety of resources that you can utilize to start 2020 on the right foot. In order based on this year’s website data, these were our most useful resources and blogs in 2019:

how to create a Trade Show Request for Proposal (RFP) (1)When you’re searching for a new exhibit house, you’ll likely submit an RFP to potential partners based on recommendations and research. There’s not an industry standard for this type of request, but there are key elements you need to include to gather the best possible response. This blog will take you through what needs to be included and how to set expectations.

2. The trade Show New Build RFP TemplateWant to save a step and skip writing your trade show RFP from scratch? We created an RFP template specifically for new booth builds. This template is ideal if you’re attending one show and want an exhibit house to focus solely on your presence there.

3. ebook_ Trade Show Booth Etiquette 101
When it comes to engaging with visitors in your booth, it’s critical that your staff is well trained and operating at their best. These tips will help your booth staff create a lasting impression that will deliver the ROI your trade show needs to deliver.

4. Creative Brief Template
Planning ahead in the trade show world is the key to a successful project. Our recently updated creative brief template will help you establish your objectives and goals, think about your messaging and show presence, and get on the same page with your exhibit house and team.

5. Trade Show ROI_ Key Metrics for Success
Once your booth is packed into crates, it’s time to sit down and create that daunting wrap-up report for leadership. To help you get started, we collected the most compelling lead, revenue, media, and web metrics along with their formulas so you can just crunch the numbers. But remember, it’s important to think about these metrics well before your event opens. Only need high-level, lead specific metrics? Check out our Lead Cheat Sheet Infographic.

6. Why You Need a Trade Show Specific Creative Brief
Not convinced that you need to fill out yet another form for your trade show booth? Think again! This blog outlines the benefits surrounding a creative brief and why your project needs one.

7. six Innovative Trade Show Technology Solutions
Technology is attractive to any trade show goers and over the years, it’s evolved. Even if your company isn’t in the realm of tech, you can incorporate technology in your booth to increase engagement or amplify your brand messages. You can draw inspiration from these six examples from our clients that created memorable, engaging experiences.

8. How to Incorporate the Five Senses Into Your Booth Experience
The five sense play a pivotal role in the learning process, and rarely, we experience anything with just one of our senses. Together, the senses work to create a complete experience. This blog teaches trade show marketers how they can incorporate the five senses into their booth engagements to amplify the experience for attendees.

9. White Paper_ 10 Steps to Prepare for a Successful Trade Show
Putting a trade show experience together isn’t as simple as 1, 2, and 3! There are variables and complexities to consider so that your project is a successful investment. This white paper covers ten key steps you should take in order to have a well-managed, successful trade show.

10. WHITE PAPER_ How to Identify, Capture and Measure Leads From a Trade ShowAs you move into 2020, innovative ways to capture data are a MUST. This white paper walks you through how to identify your lead types, how to select the right kind of measurement technology to capture data and defined metrics and formulas that will help you justify your trade show marketing budget.

2019 was a year full of memories, challenges, and wins. We have no doubt that 2020 will be an incredible, memorable year for not only us, but also you!

Coming at you with the lamest, overplayed dad joke of all time: SEE YOU NEXT YEAR! Tomorrow. Next year is tomorrow.

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