Our New, Crowdsourced Design

Our 4 Final Concepts for Our New Trade Show Display

Our 4 Final Concepts for Our New Trade Show Display

 

We at FB Displays & Designs recently had an opportunity to interact with our clients in a unique way. In preparation of our participation at a few trade shows, our creative team (which is all of us) wanted new graphics to be used on one of our trade show displays. After several weeks of brainstorming & designing, we came up with ten concepts. Over the following week, we narrowed it down to four contenders. We came to the conclusion that everyone on our team liked all four finalists. With only a week until our first event, what were we to do?

 

This is where our story takes a creative twist: we decided to crowdsource our decision.* We sent an email to all of our clients & posted a poll on our social media sites, inviting our clients & followers to vote for their favorite concept.

 

We were pleasantly surprised by the high participation rate from our fans. In the end, there was a clear winner, (Design #1,) which we produced straightaway. Here’s how the vote totals broke down:

 

Design #1: 55%

Design #2: 17%

Design #3: 17%

Design #4: 11%

 

While Design #1 was the crowd favorite, #’s 2, 3 and 4 received the most passionate responses, including the following:

 

“For me # 4 is your best bet. It’s the most arresting/cool/ “check this out!” display in my opinion. And the words are not fighting with the background.”

 

I can’t automatically put 2 & 4 in a category or stereotype them because though my mind may try to find a file for them…when it can’t…I have to stop to think about what does this mean. My favorite is 2- just more gusto, spunk and power.”

 

We are thrilled to report that our experiment was a success. The amount of votes we received exceeded our expectations, and the feedback was an added bonus. And the rest, as they say, is history. At the SBA Expo on May 13th, we unveiled our new trade show display as chosen by our wonderful fans.

 

FB Displays Trade Show Booth

Our New Trade Show Display

 

 

Do you have an interesting story to tell us about your own design experience? We’d love to hear it-Please leave a comment, below. And to see more designs created by our team, visit our project gallery.

 

* Trained professionals performed this stunt. Don’t try it at home.

 

Written by Bill Henecke, Graphic Designer for FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

FB Displays and Designs trade show display

May 29, 2015 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

What We Learned By Going Mobile

FBD2 Going Mobile

 

In case you aren’t aware, Google has changed their algorithm specifically related to how websites are ranked in search results. The new rankings are based in part on whether or not webpages & web content have mobile-device friendly features. Having read about this ahead of time, we setup a timeline and took action to make a mobile version of our homepage, to both comply with the new search engine rules as well as provide a better experience for our clients who are accessing our site from their phone. Here are a few of the things we learned along the way:

 

 

 

  1. The bare essentials.

The first step in our process, and arguably the most challenging, was to pare down our content to the most essential topics for a mobile version of our website. Our regular site has a wealth of information about our displays & services, as well as educational articles & videos about exhibiting at trade shows, so there was a lot to choose from. We tried to focus on the features that a client might need while away from the office, such as basic descriptions of our company’s strengths, a page with maps & directions, and one with easy ways to contact us.

 

  1. Less (text) is more.

Our next challenge was to simplify the text on each page as much as possible. While the desktop version of our website has detailed explanations of our capabilities, our mobile site had to get our messaging across in as few words as possible. This was imperative due to the size of the screens being used to access the content and due to our goal to keep information as easy to understand as possible. Each page of our mobile website went through multiple revisions to improve upon the readability & brevity.

 

  1. Images are key.

Just as it was important to be aware of the simplicity of the text used on our site, it became increasingly essential to make sure the images we used were “doing all the talking.” We chose photos that showed as many of the types of trade show displays we produce as possible. That way, we would need fewer images to accomplish this, and we could make them appear larger on the screen. Then, we adjusted them to smaller file sizes so they would load faster on mobile devices.

 

  1. Optimizing for Touch Screens.

It may seem obvious, but we were very careful to make sure our mobile site would be easy to navigate for touch-screen users. A lot of thought went into checking button & photo sizes so that they would logically fill the screen & flow from one section to the next. We also chose to have some pages open in new browser tabs, so that visitors to our site could easily get back to our primary page, rather than relying on smaller, touch-screen navigation controls.

 

  1. Test, test, test.

After we finished designing the new mobile website and linked all of the pages, we tested the functionality and visual aesthetic of the site. We checked to make sure our new webpage would be simple to use & easy to understand on iOS & Android devices of all sizes. Crucially, we tested the mapping & directions page to ensure that clicking on our street address for our showroom would launch the navigation app on these devices. Of course, after making improvements, we again tested each page again to be sure our site was straightforward and informative.

 

 

 

 

In the end, I think it is important to remember that as it is a website, it will go through many changes & improvements in the future. The essential task was getting mobile-ready in time for the change by Google. Getting ready to go mobile was a great exercise in understanding the important characteristics of our company.

 

 

If you have suggestions for creating a great mobile web presence, we’d love to hear about them! Please use the comments section, below.

April 21, 2015 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

How do I “pay it forward” as a mentor…

FBD2 Mentoring

I am always honored and humbled when asked to be a mentor. I always think “What can I contribute?” Yes, as a mentor, I have the opportunity to build my leadership and management skills, build an enduring career network, and get satisfaction knowing that I am helping someone achieve their professional goals. In addition, I receive affirmation of my professional competence.

What is the role of a mentor??

The role of a mentor is to encourage the personal and professional development of a mentee through the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience. The mentoring relationship is built on mutual trust, respect and communication.

A strong mentoring relationship is also built on collaboration and the commitment to the professional development of one or both of its participants. While in the typical mentoring relationship, one participant has more experience, skill, knowledge than the other, many strong mentoring relationships provide an opportunity for both parties to learn from each other through the development of a caring and respectful partnership.

To reap the benefits of mentoring requires that proteges and mentors be carefully matched.

Through my association with local universities, colleges, and business development centers, I have been blessed with wonderful, cooperative and willing mentees. I have learned more as a mentor than I think my mentees have learned from me.

Mentoring is more than the transfer of advice, knowledge and insights. The relationship offers reciprocal benefits for mentors willing to invest their time. As well as the personal satisfaction of sharing their skills and experience with a willing learner, being involved in mentoring also provides some tangible benefits that can reward mentors professionally. Some key benefits for mentors include:

-Provide opportunity to reflect on own practice

-Enhance job satisfaction

-Develop professional relationships

-Widen your understanding of different organizations and businesses

-Enable you to practice interpersonal skills

-Provide personal satisfaction through supporting the development of others

So I encourage you, if you are presented with the opportunity, “pay it forward” and become a mentor. Share your knowledge and experience. And, you will learn so much!

Written by Francine Brooks, President of FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

FB Displays and Designs trade show display

March 31, 2015 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

A Trade Show Checklist for Packing a “Gang Box”

First Aid for your trade show display

First Aid for your trade show display

During a typical day at the office, any supplies you might need are easily accessible and it’s unlikely anyone would ever consider running out of staples to be a “crisis.” When you’re on the trade show floor however, it’s an entirely different story. Needing anything from Velcro for attaching graphics, to duct tape for a quick fix can become quite the dilemma. . . and an expensive one at that. If you’re in need of a roll of tape ten minutes before an event starts and the only supplier is Show Services, you may find yourself paying unreasonable prices. To avoid ending up in this situation altogether, it’s essential to pack a “gang box” for your next trade show.

A gang box is an event survival kit containing items to help you in almost any scenario. Experienced exhibitors bring a “gang box” with them to every event and ensure that it’s restocked before every show. Below is a trade show checklist of both the basics as well as a list of items for more extreme scenarios.

MUST HAVES

Don’t leave home without them:

  • Roll of Velcro
  • Scissors
  • Super Glue
  • Scotch Tape & Double-Sided Tape
  • Duct Tape or Gaffer’s Tape (Doesn’t leave as much residue as duct tape)
  • Mini Stapler/Staples/Staple remover
  • Black Sharpies, Highlighters & White Out
  • Box [or two] of Pens (trust me, they grow legs!)
  • An assortment of sticky notes, message pads, and three-by-five note cards
  • Binder clips, paper clips, rubber bands, straight pins, safety pins, zip ties
  • Paper towels and gentle cleansing solution (for wiping down booth counters)
  • Screwdriver set (both Phillips and flathead)
  • Measuring tape
  • Box Cutter (make this easily accessible)
  • USB/ jump drive of all booth graphics, handouts and brochures (Make sure to know the locations of the nearest FedEx Kinko’s or other copying outlets prior to the show)
  • Extra copies of demo/presentation/software & videos
  • A/V & Computer/network cables
  • Extra copy of your Setup/ Installation instructions for your display
  • Pictures of your booth completely set up from all angles (makes it easy to know which graphics go where)
  • Grounded, UL-rated surge protector strip
  • Electronic copies of your Show Order Forms/ Confirmations, Shipping Documents, and Reservations

 

PERSONAL ITEMS

Sometimes, you can’t leave the booth and these could be life savers:

  • Quick dissolve breath strips (or another kind of mint)
  • Pocket Packs of Tissues
  • Small first aid kit
  • Hand Sanitizer or Wet Wipes
  • Small Lint Remover
  • Stain Removing Pen
  • Antacid, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Tylenol (have all of them on hand, people have allergies or preferences)
  • Hand cream
  • Comb

 

OPTIONAL ITEMS

These items might save your exhibit in case of any last-minute emergency.  Think of any scenarios where these might come into play, no matter how extreme and pack the items that could save your booth.  Shipping these to your show will cost you far less than having Show Services repair your display:

  • Staple gun with extra staples
  • Battery Powered Screw Driver
  • Extra light bulbs (make sure they match the ones in your booth)
  • Extra screws, nuts, bolts, fasteners, standoffs, etc.
  • Wire Cutter
  • Calculators, clipboards & order forms, (if you write orders at the show).
  • Strong Shipping Tape
  • Double-sided carpet tape
  • Shrink wrap
  • FedEx / UPS Shipping Envelopes/ Pouches

 

While these items are all recommended, we encourage you to add anything else for your specific needs. What do you pack in your trade show tool kit that may be different from the items we listed? Add them in the comment section, below!  Learn more about exhibiting at trade shows in our other blog posts or by heading to our website.

 

Written by John Leberman, Marketing Coordinator for FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

 FB Displays and Designs trade show display

February 9, 2015 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

Modern Trade Show Lead Follow-Up

Trade Show Lead Follow Up.  Photo Courtesy of Flickr.

Trade Show Lead Follow Up. Photo Courtesy of Flickr.

 

Believe it or not, about 80% of exhibitors don’t follow up with the leads they’ve gathered after meeting new people in their trade show booth.

 

Sounds crazy, right?

 

Not to worry. This being the 21st Century, I’m going to share my favorite, easy, modern ways to connect with your leads after the event.

 


   

-LinkedIn

What could be simpler? Start typing your prospect’s name into the search bar on LinkedIn and in a few moments you can invite them to connect with you. I usually write the recipient a personal note to remind them how we met or about the conversation we had. Since LinkedIn is all about maintaining relationships with people you know, I think this improves your chances that they’ll accept your invitation. Now, this lead has a simple way to contact me, and I them.

 

-VIP Questions & Follow-Up

It seems like every show I staff, I leave with a list of a few very important clients & prospects that have questions or need quotes of a more in-depth nature. Ideally, these should be responded to within 24-48 hours. Due to the hectic timeline at the end of a trade show, I create reminders in my phone’s calendar to address these right away. I try to split the list into questions/quotes that I can ask someone at the home-office to reply to, and those that I should write to personally. This way I cut down on the overall response time.

 

-Instantaneous

Very often on the trade show floor, I’m doing a presentation for a client using a tablet or smartphone. In these instances, I find it very helpful to compose an email with the pictures, PDFs & catalogs we reviewed & send it to the prospect while they’re still in the booth. When practical, I prefer this tactic because I can ask them to verify they’ve received it (avoiding emails lost due to misspellings or hidden in Spam/Junk mail folders). In addition, they don’t have to carry around my catalog for the rest of the day!

 

-Group Emails

Did you collect contact info during the trade show with a lead retrieval machine or app? Did you get a list of attendees from show management? What about the business cards you’ve collected during the expo? A quick, group email can be used to thank those that stopped at your booth and to extend a reminder of your product & service offerings to all. We use Constant Contact to manage these lists, but there are many similar providers out there.

 


 

What steps will you take to improve your post-show communication? Leave your thoughts in the comment thread!  Learn more about exhibiting at trade shows in our other blog posts or by heading to our website.

 

Written by John Leberman, Marketing Coordinator for FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

 

FB Displays and Designs trade show display

December 2, 2014 at 3:54 pm Leave a comment

Reflecting on Thanksgiving 2014

From our family to yours, we wish you the best of health and fortune this Thanksgiving and beyond.

Happy Thanksgiving from FB Displays & Designs

Even if you’re not from Western New York, you probably heard that we had a terrible storm here over the past week. Many towns just south of Buffalo received several feet of snow, paralyzing the region.

With all of the travel bans, I was not able to drive into the office Tuesday through Friday of last week. (Not that I would’ve been able to get out of the driveway, anyway!) While working from home, I had the local news on in the background, and couldn’t help but notice how many of our clients & colleagues were affected by the storm. Some had to close their businesses for days, others experienced significant damage to their warehouses & operations. This storm has, no doubt, had a serious impact on our local economy. The weather forecasters said this would be a storm of historic proportions & they were (unfortunately) correct.

Personally, many of my family & friends were in areas that were hard hit, some not able to dig out of their homes until Sunday, most now dealing with the potential for flooding from all of the snow melting. I’m grateful that through this whole ordeal, those close to me were safe & experienced only minor damage to their homes.

With the storm happening so close to Thanksgiving, I think everyone in Buffalo will be a little more focused on what they’re thankful for this year.

If you haven’t heard it before, Buffalo is often referred to as the “City of Good Neighbors.” This week, with the worst conditions upon us, our region lived up to that moniker. Examples of neighbors checking in on one another, digging each other out, and many other kindnesses are all over the news. I’m thankful to live & work in Western New York, where this is “the norm.”

I’ve shared a few of my own photos from the snow storm below, some are on the lighter side, showing our dog all bundled-up to go out into the “SnowVember” weather-

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Written by John Leberman, Marketing Coordinator for FB Displays & Designs.

FB Displays and Designs trade show display

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November 25, 2014 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

How to Make Lemonade from a Lemon Booth Location

FBD2, Lemonade from a Lemon Booth Location

Photo Courtesy of Flickr, Yellow Sky Photography

Stuck in the back corner of the hall or behind a column? Miss out on getting into the main exhibit hall? Here’s how you can see all your clients and prospects and have a successful show:

1. Pre-show announcements.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an elaborate mailer, or a quick text or e-mail, send something telling clients and prospects you’re not going to be easy to find, but the extra effort will be rewarded. Don’t forget to maximize your presence at the show on Linkedin and Facebook.

2. Sponsor a coffee break.

Convince show management into allowing you to sponsor a coffee or beverage break. Then put a very large and colorful sign nearby with a map to your booth and a prize offer for attendees who find you. 

3. Give them a yellow brick road.

Negotiate with show management to let you place stickers on the aisle carpet leading attendees to your booth. These can be arrows, footprints or pictures of your product.

4. Give them what they want.

Do some serious brainstorming and come up with a novel – a really, really novel – promotional item that will allow people to wear or carry your logo to the masses. The right item will cause people to ask where they can get one for themselves.

5. Let Elvis do your talking.

Hire talent to hand something (samples, coupons, flyers with maps to your space) to attendees as they come into the facility. Some show managers will let you rent space or will designate a specific location for this activity.

6. Give them the shirt off your back.

Dress your entire staff in shirts with a map to your booth on the back and your logo on the front.

7. Sponsor headrest covers on the shuttle buses.

Put your logo and booth location on the back of every shuttle bus seat headrest so that everyone knows how to find you once they are in the hall.

8. Network like a madman!

In addition to every networking event, take advantage of social media. Tweet a ‘Thank you for visiting our booth’ message to every visitor to your booth. This leads to a reply or a retweet that not only creates a bond with the prospect (enhancing the possibility of a conversion) but also takes your brand and booth location to the followers of the prospect leading to more potential visitors.

9. Get friendly with show management.

Don’t be afraid to talk to show management about your dilemma. The more they know that you are serious about maximizing your presence at their show, the more likely you’ll be able to get first option on a better location if someone pulls out or is a no-show.

Good luck and have fun!

Written by Francine Brooks, President of FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

March 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

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