We’ve worked with Classic Exhibits for nearly a couple of decades, even before TradeshowGuy Exhibits was a thing. Which means we know the quality of their work, and their attention to detail and pleasing the customer. They will occasionally put things on sale above and beyond their “Lightning Deals,” which appear on Exhibit Design Search all the time at TradeshowBuy.com.
This time around, it’s a price cut on safety dividers and – in looking ahead to 2021 – free accessories for exhibit rentals for next year, which includes free hand sanitizer stations if the deal is reached prior to November 15th, 2020.
For years now, we’ve heard about the dangers of social media, and how it’s used to influence and manipulate us. It would take several books and a couple of full-length movies to cover all that goes through my mind, but this short mini-rant (okay, not really a rant, but still) distills a few things that I think are worth considering:
Are you guilty of any of these? Don’t feel bad. We’re only human, but if we know ahead of time what things to know, what to avoid and how to prepare, we can have a much better and more successful tradeshow exhibiting experience.
I’ve certainly blogged about this topic before. But things change, inside your company and outside in the events and tradeshow world. So I think it behooves any tradeshow manager to keep their eyes up and take note of changes in the exhibiting landscape. Here are few things rattling around in my brain:
Be aware of how other shows are unfolding in other countries. How are they dealing with protecting their exhibitors and visitors? It’s easy enough to find information on LinkedIn, especially if you follow fellow industry exhibitors. I see this type of information shared frequently and learned that a very large show was held in Europe lately. This means in some parts of the world, things are getting back to normal.
Know what’s happening with the shows you normally exhibit at. Are they planning to be all virtual next time around? Or do they have firm plans to be back in action at the convention center or hall where they usually have the show? Or maybe the third option: they just don’t know. The local convention center here in Salem is closed until further notice, but they have several groups on long-term contracts that want to come back once it’s okay. Some have smaller gatherings of less than a hundred (which might be okay under today’s guidelines); others expect hundreds, maybe more than a thousand. At this point, it’s hard to know when gatherings that large will be allowed.
Different states have different statuses. California, Nevada, Chicago, DC, NYC. They’re all different and all have different plans for getting back to larger shows. It may not make sense to spend a lot of time digging into each state’s specific plans, but just to be aware that what brings back large shows in Nevada may not be the same that brings them back in NYC or Chicago.
If your company goes to several shows a year, large, medium and small, would it make sense to have a ready-made virtual exhibit that can easily be adapted to fit the requirements of each show? Virtual exhibits are getting more popular, especially when exhibitors and show organizers have the understanding that even when (if) things return to “normal,” virtual exhibits can and probably will be a part of the marketing mix. Learn more about virtual exhibit in this Kevin Carty podcast interview, this Exhibitor Magazine webinar replay which includes a walk-through of the Canon virtual exhibit, and this blog post on what questions might come up around moving forward with a virtual exhibit.
Another thing to keep abreast of is how exhibitors and attendees are feeling about getting back to live events. This piece from TSNN indicates a majority of people are ready to get back on the exhibiting floor.
Yes, things are moving forward. Sometimes we feel it’s at a snail’s pace, but even incremental movement is critical. I suspect at some point, you’ll look up and find that you’re booking travel plans and signing exhibiting contracts and planning exhibit updates.
I’ve had Kevin Carty of Classic Exhibits on a handful of times this year for various discussions related to dealing with the COVID Pandemic, how they’re dealing with it and more. But this week I wanted to catch up with Kevin to learn more about virtual exhibits: how they’re working their way into designing and implementing exhibits for clients, and how exhibitors can think about and approach a possible virtual exhibit for their own use:
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Rain. Sorely needed here on the west coast with all the forest fires still burning. We got a good dose of rain late last week and while it didn’t put the fires out, it gave firefighters a good helping hand.
The simple act of being aware of what’s going on can transform an average exhibiting experience into a successful one. Here’s a quick video on what you things you might want to be more aware of next time you’re exhibiting.
I’m a reader and have been since an early age. I grew up on comic books, the National Lampoon and Mad Magazine, and then as a teenager moved into science fiction. Favorites included Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, Harlan Ellison and many others. Nowadays I tend towards Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. Very little science fiction, although late last year I did read William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. Not really science fiction, but good. Not his best, but enjoyable. I should have probably included it in this round-up photo below, but hey, it didn’t make it!
The books in the photo include:
Michael Connelly’s The Crossing, The Burning Room, and Chasing the Dime. I have about five or so left in the series, which now stands at more than two dozen, and then I’m caught up with Harry Bosch. The TV series on Amazon does a stellar job of portraying the stories and the characters. The books are straightforward murder mysteries and Harry Bosch is well-painted on the pages.
Lee Child has over two dozen Jack Reacher novels, and I have just a few left before I wrap up the series. He’s retiring from writing the Reacher novels, as he’s burnt out and his brother is taking over. Jack Reacher is one of the more interesting characters created of late, to my way of looking at things. Retired military investigator, a huge man who loves a good fight and has no qualms about killing a bad guy if he deserves it. Night School, Make Me, Personal and Midnight Line were all quick and enjoyable reads.
Ted Chiang’s Exhalation came to my attention from a review I’d read in the New York Times. It’s a collection of short stories. I’m new to reading Ted, and they were all fascinating, some more so than others. The stories border in science fiction and could in fact be called science fiction, but they’re so entertaining and at times otherworldly, that you hardly notice.
The latest in the Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series, The Bourne Evolution, is from Brian Freeman. It’s his first take on the character after several books by Eric Van Lustbader. I’m about 75% through, so I figure I can include in this wrap-up. Without going to deep into the plot, I found it interesting that Freeman created a mass shooting in Las Vegas (which really happened), but fictionalized the shooter and other events surrounding it. I’ve only read a couple of the Van Lustbader Bourne books, and it’s been several years, but I remember them as being quite entertaining. This new one falls short of the bar, I think. Too many of the scenes and the plot seems to be cookie-cutter, but with Jason Bourne, I suppose that’s what you get at this point.
James Clear’s Atomic Habits took me a while. I couldn’t get into the habit of reading it! But finally I finished it after a few false starts. Perhaps, that while it has some great ideas that can and have helped a lot of people, I found that I’m already doing a lot of things mentioned. It’s a ginormous seller, having sold more than a million copies along the way. And yes, it’s a very good book. You’ll probably get a lot out of it, if you’re willing to do what he suggests.
Finally, I’m leaving Isabel Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea for last, because it’s one of the best novels I’ve read in the last few years. It’s a 40-year span intense look at the founding of Haiti and takes place during the Haiti revolution during the late 18th century and early 19th century. It’s fascinating, bloody, brutal. The characters jump off the page. I’d highly recommend it. It moves pretty quickly, even though at times the prose gets a little thick as it dives into the context of the times and how the characters grow and change.
To me, that seems like a lot of books. But. My wife, who was laid off for nearly four months thanks to the COVID-19, did a lot of reading and told me a little while ago that she’s read 30 books so far this year. Thirty! Very little of it was fiction. Most are current historical releases that focus on black and women’s history and political impact. I wish I could find time to read all of them, they all look good!
One of the first clients I managed to snare in my early days in the tradeshow world came when I cold-called a Portland-based company called gDiapers. It took awhile, maybe a few months, but we ended up designing and fabricating two tradeshow exhibits for them. At one point five or six years ago, they decided to stop exhibiting at tradeshows and focus on other marketing efforts.
I wanted to catch up with gDiapers CEO Jason Graham-Nye to see what he and the company have been up to lately. I know Jason moved his family back home to Australia five years ago from Portland, which meant changes for the company as well.
Little did I know what kind of adventures he and his team got up do, especially once the coronavirus hit. I hope you enjoy the conversation – I sure did:
I would argue that while a formal SWOT is probably unnecessary, it’s not a bad idea to at least examine some of the changes the pandemic has wrought, to see what obvious and perhaps significant changes your company is facing.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
How are you positioned in the marketplace? Do you have new products about to launch? How are you perceived by your customers and clientele? Are you doing things to keep relationships going? Are sales strong or flat? Just knowing these and other related things will help you understand your position in the marketplace compared to your competition and compared to how you might have been with no pandemic.
With no tradeshow marketing coming for at least another quarter or two, can you put the budget towards something else? Is a virtual event worth the investment? Can you do another kind of outreach for a fraction of the cost of exhibiting at a big tradeshow? Take a look at your options and see if there are missed opportunities that you may have overlooked.
Are there marketplace threats you sense but perhaps haven’t put your finger on? Are your supplier lines still open and working well, or are there kinks that may signal something worse down the line? Do you have any competitors that are taking this time to move aggressively into an area that you thought you dominated? Threats are often overlooked because, unless you actively think about them and look for them, they can sneak up on you without you knowing until it’s too late.
All in all, doing a brief SWOT check-in may help you understand how the company is doing and give you insight and context in how you’ll handle the rest of the year and move into 2021.