This past Monday, three other students and I had the opportunity to attend the Buffalo Niagara Sales & Marketing Executives Student Day. Professor Dudkowski selected Kourtney Shearer, Danielle Board, Taylor Tracy, and myself to attend a day long conference, which included a choice of one of three tours, a special presentation by Bill Knoche, a networking opportunity, and a dinner presentation with Marc Adler. In order to do this amazing day justice, I have decided to split the blog post into three separate posts and will be sharing the rest of our amazing experience throughout the week.
Our day started off at 1:30 with a tour and the three tours we were able to select from were IIMAK, FB Display & Designs, and Rigidized Metals Corportation. IIMAK, a manufacturer of printing, imaging and marking consumable products with 1,000 employees worldwide. Headquartered in Amherst, New York, with additional manufacturing, distribution and sales operations in Belgium…
After many months of research, planning, design & coding, we, at FBD2, are very excited to announce the launch of our new website!
The new site is now live and is located at the same address, http://www.displaysanddesigns.com. We’re happy to share this new design with you, and hope that you will take time to visit & enjoy all the changes.
Our process of creating the new website started several months ago, when we defined our goals and how to best achieve them. Here are a few examples of this effort and what strategies we employed:
Our top priority for the new layout of our website was a design that allowed our clients the ability to easily find display solutions to meet their individual needs. To this end, we retooled the most prominent section of our website, creating the “Display Solutions” page, with subsections that focus on the priorities and needs for exhibiting at trade shows and recruiting fairs, in museums and outdoor events. We concluded that by showing examples of the most relevant designs, our visitors will have the best possible experience.
Another significant area that needed improvement was providing a more engaging and rewarding experience for our visitors. To achieve this, we curated content that appears at the bottom of many of the pages, pointing visitors to additional articles or actions that may be of interest to them. In addition, we tried to use a greater proportion of “real life” photos to show how the displays we produce actually appear on the trade show floor, in a museum and at an outdoor event.
After we addressed our major goals, we focused on improving the site as a whole. We felt that our old website had become cluttered, suffering from a lack of focus. To correct this, we pared down the extraneous pages on our site, and streamlined our menu whereby all visitors can reach the content they’re looking for in two-or-less clicks/taps.
Simplifying our site was not enough by itself. We had to make sure the information presented would be the most helpful to our current & potential clients. We decided to remove large portions of complicated text and small, ineffective icons. These have been replaced with larger, more visually appealing images and descriptions that are more direct and succinct.
Although our everyday focus is on the design & production of trade show displays, our design team is experienced in a variety of graphic design services, including creating logos/branding, brochures, and in this instance, web design. As these services are completed in-house, the same quality and attention to detail that goes into our displays is carried through to all our design projects.
Ultimately, it is our hope that you find this new site more engaging. We think we have met that goal, but we would love to hear your feedback! If you think there are pages/areas that could be improved, or if there are topics you would like to learn more about, please leave a comment below!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t leave home without them:
Roll of Velcro
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)
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
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)
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.
Calculators, clipboards & order forms, (if you write orders at the show).
Strong Shipping Tape
Double-sided carpet tape
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.