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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies

More and more we are hearing exhibitors being misled by the general contractor for trade shows.  For new exhibitors or people new to an exhibit manager position it can be very confusing.    Here are a couple of misconceptions.

1.  You have to use the general contractor to install your booth.

You should always check each show's regulations carefully because rules are kind of wacky these days for installations.  This is specifically true with things like lightboxes lately.  Rules are also different for inlines vs. islands.
Image result for not trueBut one thing is certain, YOU ABSOLUTELY DO NOT HAVE TO USE THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR.  Any exhibitor can appoint what is called an Exhibit Appointed Contractor (EAC).  I would recommend you choose that person/team carefully and have them become familiar with your exhibits to save money and be sure your exhibit is in 'tip-top' shape when you arrive to the event.

2.  Exhibitors must rent from the general contractor. 

ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE.  You can rent from anyone that offers a rental program.  Most rentals from show services that I have seen are beat up and often not in the best of shape.  They are used many times with little refurbishment to the structure in between uses.  That is how they make their money and why they can often be less expensive than other rentals.  

Image result for lies lies liesThis is your brand.  If your booth is banged up and graphics don't look great your company doesn't look great.  Here are three things that drive me absolutely crazy when I see them on the show floor.

  • Loose or poor fitting graphics
  • Visible cords 
  • Banged up or damaged hardware
DETAILS MATTER PEOPLE!

3.  You must get flooring and furniture from show services.

Guess what?  ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE.   Many companies, like Total Displays, have furniture and flooring available for purchase or rental.  Flooring can pay for itself in 3-4 shows (depending on selection) and furniture can pay for itself in as little as 1-2 shows.  I don't mean this as a shameless plus (ok maybe I do), but look into this.  You can get what you want instead of the limited options available from show services and you can save money.  Who wants to pay $30 for a cardboard garbage can?

International Exhibitors Tips

International Exhibitors especially can benefit from renting a for US shows.  You can save money on things like customs etc.

Are you doing give away items?  Work with a US partner to get those items and have them shipped directly to the show to save on shipping and customs.

If you just want a reality or truth check, I am happy to chat with anyone that might have questions about this.  If you don't have a partner to consult with you on these issues we are here to help.


If you like what you read, please share it!

====================================================
Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years. She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients. Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David. They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers. If you would like to learn more, email her at lori@totaldisplays.com. She is an open networker, connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Read other Total Displays Blog posts at http://totaldisplays.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why I Won't Respond to Your RFP

A little reality jolt here people.

RFP's ARE A WASTE OF TIME


I can hear you....

What?  I just got an RFP with a $200k budget for a 50 x 50 booth.  I really want that business and if I do a great job, fill out all the questions, spend hours and hours and hours on structure design and answering every little detail they ask.  Even if they ask what color underwear I am going to answer because that is going to earn me that business!  You are crazy to not fill out that RFP!

Sorry.  Won't do them anymore.

Now, I will put one small caveat here.  If the company will meet with us to go over their design request, I will consider submitting a design and responding to the RFP.  Or if they allow us to present our design to them, I may consider.  

If you don't get a meeting with the decision makers, or don't get to present your concepts in person or via virtual conference,  run fast; very fast. 
Image result for run very fast
Here are is reality.
  • If you are not the incumbent exhibit house you have about a 2% chance of earning their business.
  • You cannot do an exhibit design (especially an island) justice on paper.  It needs to be presented.
  • Marketing people send out RFP's because their boss told them to get 4 competitive bids.
  • Generally speaking, they already know from whom they want to buy.
  • You will spend hours filling these out.  Oh and don't forget they want to see your financial statements.
  • You will take potential billable resources like a structure designer and waste a lot of their time.
  • And references?  They will ask for references and never contact any of them.
Image result for revenue producing activitiesI may sound a bit jaded here.   Here is the way I look at it.  It is not high probability business.  Period.  I would much rather my reps are focused on higher potential revenue earning activities than losing hours on an RFP.
Is there the rare occasion when you blow them away with your design or have a lower price point than your competitors?  Of course.  But it is not the norm.  

Here at Total Displays we look at our customer relationships as partnerships.  Exhibit design is a process and generally multiple iterations of designs are done, with communication.  Communication.  Remember that?  It is a wonderful thing.

RFP's are 'make-work' all around.  Some marketing manager either spent hours doing it themselves or heaven forbid they paid a high priced consultant to meet with them multiple times and put it together for them.

Back in my software days, you really don't want to know what I did with software RFP's.  Let's just say we could do EVERYTHING that was listed on the RFP.  😁

Carry on.  Sell strong.  Don't waste your time.

If you like what you read, please share it!

====================================================
Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years. She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients. Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David. They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers. If you would like to learn more, email her at lori@totaldisplays.com. She is an open networker, connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Read other Total Displays Blog posts at http://totaldisplays.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Am Done With My Custom Exhibit House

Today we had a large prospect come in to meet with us in our showroom.  I have been calling on this account for a long time.   They have been working with a local custom exhibit house for many years.

I like to think of us as the Little Engine That Could or David of David and Goliath.

Today that prospect sat here in our showroom and said,

"I'm done with 'Custom Exhibit House ABC'."

We had another prospect in here yesterday that basically said the same thing.  They said they felt the industry was moving away from the true custom booth and wanting much more modular and lightweight options.

We are finding this in many cases to be true.  Of course there are still some true custom displays out there.  We saw a 10 x 20 at a show recently that actually required drills, nuts and bolts to set up.  It was all wood and had to weigh a ton!  I know we could have designed something that would have looked better, been lighter, easier to set up and still represent their brand really well.

A couple years ago we won a 10 x 30 deal where we were up against a custom house.  The custom house told our prospect, "Oh yeah, I know Total Displays.  They are just a pieces and parts company."  I guess they underestimated us and our product offerings.  We have MANY stories where we have beat out custom houses.

Our conversations with our prospect continued today.  They were renting some items from this custom house.  They said, by the time they added all the account management and other fees the rental was twice what it should be.  As they sat in our showroom and we looked at some of the items we had available they were very pleased.

What they came away with really astounded them.

1.  We don't charge a lot of extra fees in any of our jobs
2.  We have all the same custom capabilities through our partners that the custom houses do
3.  We are invested owners providing a high level of honesty and service
4.  They realized we did not have all the overhead that a custom house has
5.  They really liked what we offered and our honesty.

Image result for score 2 0
I am proud to be a pieces and parts company that can save companies money on storage, shipping, drayage and install and dismantle services.  A future post will be coming regarding storage and other services - watch for it!

If you really want custom, yup, we can do that too.

This week's score:

David 2   Goliath 0

If you like what you read, please share it!

====================================================
Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years. She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients. Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David. They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers. If you would like to learn more, email her at lori@totaldisplays.com. She is an open networker, connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Read other Total Displays Blog posts at http://totaldisplays.blogspot.com/