This is a follow up to:
What goes into a convention visit:
The first day is travel and setup - usually from sunup to sundown on a Sunday.
Feet on the ground, get bags, get cab, get moving...
The Display Booth
We have had numerous display booths / exhibits over the years. This year we decided to try a new configuration, with an emphasis on product display and maximizing space. Five of us working 8 hours a day in a 10'x20' space requires coordination and planning.
First we sat down and discussed our needs. Then I did a sketch on notebook paper.
Followed by a Photoshop composition:
Some light carpentry to fill in some of the missing pieces, and voila:
Next time we will get the LCD monitor mounted to the center column, add a laptop shelf and add some shelving under the display counters. To reuse one of my favorite 80's catch phrases, "I love it when a plan comes together!"
One of the goals of displaying at a convention is to give attendees who visit your booth something to take with them. We made brochures for books, videos, services and other meetings/courses. When we make a brochure, whether it is a single folded sheet, a multi-fold or a saddle stitch, we include an address / postage panel that can turn it into a self-mailer. New postal rules require an envelope if something is saddle stitched but not a magazine or catalog, so we are doing a lot of multi-folds.
The columns of the display have a surface that sticks to Velcro. We make 20x30" posters for new products or events we are promoting, and stick these to the wall.
This is the first year we have used a large LCD monitor as part of the booth. I created a 4 minute loop of new products, services and events, edited asn HD Premiere sequence, exported as Blu-Ray h.264 and authored in Adobe Encore. Compiling the Encore Blu-Ray project to an ISO allowed me to burn a Blu-Ray project to a DVD-R. Our Sony Blu-Ray player interprets the DVD-R as a Blu-Ray disc and it looked beautiful, and attracted some additional attention.
We only get 1-2 seconds to attract the attention of someone walking by.
Shuttle Bus Promo
Most conventions taking place at convention centers utilize a system of shuttle buses, to transport attendees from hotels to meeting and back, around the clock from dawn to dusk. At some meetings there is a video loop that plays on the bus. For one new product we created a 30 sec spot, which ran about once per 15 minute trip of the bus.
Conventions - The Rest of the Story - Support Video
The booth necessarily breaks down into crates and pallets, shipped via common carrier freight. At the end of the event, breaking things down takes a lot less time than setting up.
Then we wait for the empties to be delivered, pack up, shrink wrap, and head to the airport.
Once the days wrap up, usually around 5 or 6pm, it is back to the hotel. Once I got my bearings in DC, which is a series of grids and wheels with spokes (thank goodness for google maps on a smart phone), I found it pretty easy walking between locations. Most nights it is straight to dinner (skipping lunch, while not recommended, seems to happen). Having been to many major cities around the country for conventions, I have learned a few important things:
1. If you are really hungry, eat near the hotel.
2. If you are eating late, keep alcohol and dessert to a minimum.
3. If the hotel has a restaurant, check it out. It can save cab fare and/or exploring a strange city at night, and you need to save your strength.
4. Likewise, if the hotel serves breakfast, check out the prices. $14.99 for a burger at night seems like a better value than $14.99 for a bowl of fruit with yogurt or $4.50 for an english muffin. "Highway Robbery" my grandpa used to say. In these cases, finding a nearby coffee chain is in order. Also, for whatever reason, hotels with sit down breakfast service seem to take a really long time to serve you.
When I come home from such a meeting, people always ask "Wow, Chicago. Did you go to any museums?" or "Wow, Washington, did you go to the Air and Space Museum?" or "Wow, LA, did you see any movie stars?"
The response is usually, "No, I was WORKING." It is common to see nothing but the hotel and the convention center.
But once in a while we have time to walk around and see some sites.
This time in Washington we went down to the White House area, walked around, saw the Obama vegetable garden and the motorcade returning to home base. They parked out back waiting for the Prez to go to his next function. No sign of Bo, the first dog, so we returned to the general vicinity of the hotel for dinner.
Other "Walking around" highlights from past convention cities have included:
San Francisco - seeing the Blue Angels perform over San Francisco Bay
Denver - Visiting the Colorado State house
Chicago - going up in the Sears Tower (or whatever it is called - it was still the world's tallest building at the time)
Dallas - Visiting the 6th Floor Museum and walking on the infamous Grassy Knoll
Philadelphia - The Liberty Bell
In summary, it is back to work on day to day projects, and planning for future meetings, shoots and long term goals.
Thanks for reading.
As soon as I get a GANTT chart as an e-mail attachment, that is a sure sign there is an MBA degree holder on the other end. Now don't get me wrong, an MBA is a great accomplishment, and those who use their knowledge to start successful businesses are to be commended.
But for those of us in business, who got here in a roundabout way, such as by starting in a creative job...well we learn as we go. What are some examples of learning business knowledge from creative efforts?
Example 1 - Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth
(ok, that's a cooking example too)
You are working on a script for a video. The writer met her deadline and you like what she's done. So you send it off to your client for review. The next day you get it back with some Track Changes revisions. Nothing too bad. So before getting the green light for the shoot, it has to be run up the chain of command - your client's bosses. Suddenly, you find yourself sitting at a long conference table, accompanied by 6 people you have never met, your client and the worst pot of coffee you've ever tasted. You spend the next 4 hours copiously taking notes as the committee analyzes every word, apostrophe and colon. And speaking of colons, this coffee is racing through your system a bit too quickly. When the script review is finished, instead of being told to make the changes, you have to sit through 30 more minutes being scolded for not following your original orders. In other words, the client decided, via a laborious process, that what they asked for is not what they wanted. But it's your fault of course.
What's this got to do with business? Everything. Managing expectations is one of your key roles in business. You are happy to take the client's money, but are you prepared to help the client know what they want and expect what they are getting? Sometimes the only way to learn this is to drink that bad coffee.
Example 2 - Follow the Yellow Brick Road
In other words, follow the prescribed path to success with a client. In design, you often need to follow the client's corporate branding guidelines...to the letter. The client uses a font you don't have? Buy it. The client does their brochures in InDesign and you are a Quark house? Either learn it or hire someone who knows it. Think the corporate brochure templates are bland and all look the same? Don't forget that the work you are doing is a small piece of their million dollar campaign. Consistency is everything when marketing anything.
From a business point of view, little interpretation is needed. You may be a creative type who is now running or helping to run a business, but once you have provided the creative jolt your client needs, follow their rules for compliance with the corporate strategy.
Example 3 - Dance like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee
In other words, think on your feet and nail your client's need accurately and decisively when they need you to. A client calls and says "I like the DVD. Can I use this at my exhibit next week?"
Well you know, from a creative point of view, that you hit the PLAY button and the video plays once then goes back to the main menu. Not good for a trade show display. Your answer has to be "You could, but it would be better if it loops."
The client asks how soon they can get that version.
A good client asks how much it will cost. A good creative/business person will get them the goods and if they are a good client or a new client you do it gratis, because you are providing excellent customer service and that keeps 'em coming back for more. New clients and good clients (repeat clients) are the only clients you should have. New clients are not always good, but sometimes you don't know that until the job is finished. Until that time, treat every client the same - they are a good client, because they are a client, and you want to make them a good repeat client. So you do your job the only way you know how - well. Think on your feet to come up with solutions when they need you to.
More examples than I can think of
Don't just take my advice, check out the latest threads from the Creative COW Business and Marketing Forum:
Read the forum. Better yet subscribe to the new posts. I guarantee you'll be smarter for reading. You'll get the benefit of many viewpoints from experts and novices alike from around the world. Who needs an MBA when you have a COW.
Thanks for reading.