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AdminJul 23, 2019 7:23:29 AM5 min read

Nuance Solutions Carves a Niche With Trade Show Graphics

From increasing brand awareness to creating that first customer interaction, there’s always a purpose behind the print.

Cushing originally connected with the Nuance Solutions team through the Chicago Family Business Council – almost a decade ago! Between the banner stands and business transactions, it’s a working relationship based on trust and going the extra mile.

The Nuance Solutions mission is simple:

“Providing creative solutions for our customers. People and products you can count on.”

A chemical development and manufacturing company, Nuance Solutions has called Chicagoland home almost fifty years. With clients throughout the country, trade show appearances play a part of their outreach. It wasn’t always the case. As we go Behind the Bleed, Executive Vice President Neil Houtsma and Marketing Director, Michelle Quinn, discuss the impact of trade show graphics, the importance of consistency and much more.

Jon Davis: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.

Neil Houtsma:
We’re happy to!

Michelle Quinn: Excited to talk about our experience.

How long have print graphics been a part of marketing efforts at Nuance Solutions?

Neil Houtsma: We have been in business 47 years – its fair to say the last 22 have really recognized the value of using graphics in our marketing. Originally it was part-time, but knew we needed collateral to build the brand. Twenty-two years ago we cooked up a logo and put it on all the stuff we gave out. About four years ago, we started taking marketing very seriously and began working with an agency, Odea. They have coached us – on how to use graphics and overall brand direction. Over time, it has been great and we brought on Michelle as a full-time person to support those efforts. The rest is history.

Would you say it’s a mix of efforts to attract customers?

Michelle Quinn: It’s definitely a mix. We attend one big trade show every year and graphics are used with intention.  It catches people’s eyes and starts conversations. Graphics create brand awareness and consistency is important. Messaging in the graphics need to match what’s happening online; items such as email marketing and SEO (search engine optimization.).

Neil Houtsma: Prior to Michelle joining, SEO was not something we did. And we didn’t do enough with marketing prior to working with our agency, Odea. We did little things, it helped people remember who we are in the short term – but didn’t have the long-term impact.

Michelle Quinn: Graphics makes us relatable and gives the brand a face – instead of just being a face.

Neil Houtsma: We want to communicate an experience! Most of the time, we are a private label company. We’re always going to be making someone else’s brand. Graphics do help us stand out.

How do print graphics help your team connect with new customers at a trade show?

Neil Houtsma: About four weeks ago – a brand new customer hired us – as the packager of their entire program. Word got out about this new chemical supplier – and we had to build trust. First thing: Michelle constructed a survey – 60% of the people that were dealers responded and took over 28 minutes to complete – the responses were valuable. From that effort, Michelle put together a banner stand. We hosted a lunch where people could stop by and learn about us – including our company slogan – We’ve Got Chemistry – by taking the right tone with the graphics and copy – we hit a home run. People were at ease because the graphics spoke to their concerns. And helped us feel comfortable and connect with people.

Michelle Quinn: Responses were used to develop graphics messaging, and it resonated with attendees.

Neil Houtsma: And people at that meeting asked when they could buy – that day and after – the messaging made a big difference.

Michelle Quinn: The responses were considered when we put together the messaging. Items such as people being nervous about not being consulted before a change. We determined the pain point and created an opportunity to position ourselves as the experts.

Neil Houtsma: We took the same tone – at least as well – over 50 people – concerns were almost identical – and made our efforts at the conference much easier. We’ll reuse that same banner stand at another show.

Michelle Quinn: It was a very targeted group. And we built a custom email blast and follow up was collected. It was not a selling show, but it raised brand awareness.

When planning trade show graphics (& working on a design) what are some outcomes you hope for? General brand awareness? Attracting new customer attention? Both?

Michelle Quinn: There’s a lot of foot traffic – and lots of people who just walk a show. Cutting through the noise can be a challenge and our goal is to get them to stop. Messaging needs to be simple, clear and concise – but compelling – the right graphics mix gets them to stop by.

Neil Houtsma: It’s a part of general awareness too. We stopped focusing on our chemistry offering at ISSA in 2014 – and we pivoted to microfiber. We have 3 business units now, under Nuance Solutions:

NuBlend– Our Industrial Cleaner Program




NuFiber (launched in 2012) Advanced Microfiber Cleaning Tools and Systems.



NuVation – Custom Research and Development



The newer folks walking these shows notice the graphics – a booth attracts attention and goes a long way to make us stand out. There been a lot of consolidation in the industry and show floors get crowded. For example, our neighbor was a catalogue business which is not typical. We’re seeing more regional and national contractors attend. Graphics attract attention and get conversations started. A lot of it starts with people sharing their thoughts on our display.

Final ideas or thoughts you’d like to share?

Neil Houtsma: Anjelica
and Mike are always so helpful – it’s been a great collaboration because your team at Cushing understands what we are trying to accomplish. And make suggestions to get us there.

Thanks to Nuance Solutions for sharing their insights and experience in this latest, Behind The Bleed.  Please visit their site to learn more about services and company history!