An Innovative New Display For Safespan!

backlit-10-safespan

Buffalo, New York

FB Displays & Designs, Inc., (FBD2) a full-service display and graphic design company in Western New York, has recently produced a new 10’ backlit display for Safespan located in Tonawanda, NY.

Safespan’s innovative new display was designed with multiple features to help them stand out from the crowd at any event and trade show. The back wall features a simple, yet stunning graphic that perfectly leverages the backlighting to create an eye-catching vibrancy that is only possible with backlit displays. Set on top of the back wall is a long arched canopy featuring drop lighting and a hanging header. This canopy adds a visual flourish and a unique profile to the top of the display. The back wall also holds a monitor for displaying photos and videos of recent Safespan projects.

Both teams at Safespan and FBD2 could not be happier with the results. This display is the perfect example of the boost that backlighting can give to a great design.

 Safespan introduced its superior patented method of accessing and shielding bridge decks for rehabilitation projects in 1994. With 18 years strictly in the access business and 30 million square feet shipped to date Safespan’s experience is second to none. Use of the product has spread world wide as more and more contractors realize the cost-saving potential. Aside from rehabilitation projects, transportation departments and bridge owners have been using Safespan to provide a shield from deteriorating structures temporarily until funding is available for repairs..

 FB Displays & Designs, Inc., provides full service event marketing solutions, from custom exhibits and modular displays to trade show material and design services. The company, which is “Certified Woman Owned”, is a member of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, the Buffalo Partnership, and several other organizations. 716-635-0282

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.

Trade Show Trends of 2013

Photo Courtesy of Troy Stover
Photo Courtesy of Troy Stover

Once a year, trade show professionals assemble in Las Vegas for the industry’s leading conference and exposition, Exhibitor. Professionals in the trade show business have the opportunity to attend seminars, touch base with current suppliers, learn about new products, network and look into the future of trade show marketing.

Our operations manager, Troy attended Exhibitor2013 this year and returned to the office with some fresh ideas. Based on his observations from the show floor, there are 4 major trends this year in the trade show world. 

  • Interactive technology: If you were looking for a keyboard at Exhibitor, you would have been disappointed, as there were none to be found. The importance of technology of the show has increased significantly due to both the rise of social media and advances in touch screen technology.  Touch screen technology is being integrated into the displays themselves by way of large screens, into the staffers conversations with potential clients with tablets, and throughout the attendees’ experience via mobile devices. This is no different with our clients. We recently created a display for biomedical waste company BioServ that included 2 iPad stands. One iPad station will be used to run an E-procurement demo, while the other station will run a virtual golf game.
  • Fabric graphics: Fabric graphics have become the preferred graphic medium of choice, thanks to the emergence of dye sublimation (or dye sub) printing. Dye sub provides display manufacturers the opportunity to produce a high quality graphic at a lower price. Dye sub graphics also save exhibitors a considerable amount of money on shipping and repair costs, since fabric is lightweight, easy to transport, very easy to clean and less vulnerable to irreparable damage.  We have seen many of our clients move towards using fabric in their displays, including Curbell Plastics and Softlips.
  • Creating an environment vs. fabricating a display: Exhibit designers are focusing their attention on creating an experience at an exhibitor’s booth.  Display professionals have been taking a more holistic approach to exhibit design and using every tool at their disposal to create an ambiance that both engages attendees and represents the exhibitor’s branding.
  • Relaxation of booth staff uniforms:  Companies are moving away from mandating that booth staff wear the traditional suit at the company booth. Many exhibitors are choosing more “inviting” attire that helps create the feeling that staffers are approachable.  Many exhibitors have a staff uniform that is reflective of both their industry and the brand itself. For example, attendees at high-tech shows are often dressed casually and the expectation is that booth staff will be dressed casually as well.

Just like every other marketing channel, the trade show industry is constantly changing in response to advances in technology, product development and improvement efforts, and shifts in marketing ideologies. The major trends for 2013 reflect changes that are aimed at increasing attendee engagement and creating an inviting experience for attendees universally.

The Rainbow Connection: Using The Right Colors In Your Trade Show Display

Color Wheel
A large part of making a lasting impression at a trade show is creating an environment that evokes the right emotional connection between your attendees and your brand. The colors used in your display set the tone for the mood of the entire exhibit. Here are some general guidelines for choosing the colors to utilize in your trade show display.

  • Choose colors that are consistent with your corporate branding. Remember that attendees will be walking around for long periods of time looking at a large number of exhibits. The presence of your corporate colors helps attendees remember your company’s exhibit once they return to the office.
  • Select a base color and 2 accent colors. The accent colors should complement the base color. Use the base color for the background and use the accent colors for text, borders, outlines and areas that need to be highlighted.
  • Decide which emotion you want attendees to feel when they visit your exhibit and choose a base color that conveys this emotion. Do you want to excite your attendees and get their pulse racing? Consider using red as your main color. Do you want your audience to feel calm and relaxed? Make use of a blue or green hue.
  • Consider what type of buyers you are targeting and how they respond to different colors. For example, black and royal blue tend to attract impulse buyers, while teal and navy blue tend to attract budget-conscious consumers.
  • Pay attention to colors that are contemporary, but avoid “trendy” hues if you plan on re-using your graphics. Trendy colors can make a display look dated once the color has gone out of style.
  • If you are attending an international trade show, do some research on what different colors symbolize in the country where you are exhibiting. For example, in Eastern cultures, white is the color for mourning and funerals. Yellow is sacred in China, but symbolizes jealousy in France. Culture defines a person’s perception of color, so consider how your host country audience will respond to the colors in your display.
  • Consider how the venue lighting and your overhead lighting will affect how the color looks at the show. It you use a pale yellow, it may appear white in a bright spotlight.

Following a few basic color guidelines will make sure that your graphics are eye-catching, compelling and effective. When choosing the colors for your display, keep in mind your corporate branding, your target audience and the emotions your choice of color portrays to your audience.

The Year-End Trade Show Booth Tune-up Guide

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The end of the year often serves as a time to analyze the performance of your marketing initiatives over the past year, while strategizing and defining goals for the next. One of the year-end assessments to complete is evaluating the condition of your trade show exhibit. Not sure where to start? Use this guide to walk you through the proces letting the display professionals inspect the display for you. They have experience working with the materials and know what repairs will need to be made.

  • If you decide to go through the materials yourself, have a notebook and pen handy. Makes notes of everything that you are checking, whether it is damaged, missing or in perfect condition.
  • Allow yourself enough time before the next trade show to thoroughly inspect the display, in case repairs are necessary.  This will help you avoid rush charges to fix it at the last minute.
  • Look over all of your shipping cases and totes. If you have a rolling case, make sure that all of the wheels are in tact. Check the locks and make sure that they fasten tightly.
  • Assemble the display as if you were at a show. This is the best way to tell if something is missing, broken or damaged.
  • Check the hardware for any damage. Probe the frame for any broken parts, loose hinges or screws, dents, scuff marks and other signs of damage.
  • Inspect graphics thoroughly for any damage, such as deep creases, staining or scuff marks. In most cases, graphics can be cleaned fairly easily.
  • Plug in any lights to make sure that they work.
  • Check all accessories that travel with the exhibit for possible damage.
  • Evaluate your graphics and decide if they need to be updated. Are they severely damaged? Do they match your current branding? Is the text outdated? Has your product line changed since the graphics were produced? Would the images still look exciting and contemporary to attendees on the show floor?
  • Take some time to reflect on your last trade show season.  Identify what went well and what could be improved upon. While this may or may not lead changes with the display itself, it will help you plan your trade show strategy for the coming season.

Inspecting and examining your trade show display as a part of your year-end activities will enable you to be better prepared for 2013 trade show season.

The Final Countdown: What You Should Be Doing the Week Before Your Trade Show

 Lisa Shackelford, Marketing Coordinator at FB Displays & Designs, Inc. 

This past week, the FBD2 team has been preparing to exhibit at the Buffalo Business Growth Expo.  Like any other exhibitor, we spend the week before a show making sure that there are no surprises when we arrive. Here are some of our suggestions for what to do a week before you attend a trade show.

  • Kick your pre-show promotions into high gear. Use your social media channels to remind your clients that you will be at the trade show and tell them where to find your booth.  Send an email to your contacts about your show participation. Set up meetings with current and potential clients who will be attending the show.
  • Put together a trade show first aid kit.  Use a durable container, like a small plastic tote box with a snap-on lid. You can re-use this for future shows, as long as you replenish the kit before each show. Include the following items: several pens, a sharpie, tide-to-go pens, breath mints, an extension cord, a surge protector, post-its, rubber bands, a stapler, safety pins, scissors, paper clips, a Phillips head and flat head screw driver, double-sided tape, medicine for minor ailments (i.e. over-the-counter painkillers, cold relief, antacids etc.), generic business cards, lead forms, bandages and chargers for all electronics.
  • Re-read your exhibitors’ handbook and check to make sure all required paperwork has been returned to the appropriate person.
  • Research both the venue and the surrounding area.  Find out where parking are  located, where the loading zones are, and take note of what is in the immediate area around the venue.
  • Meet with your booth staff and finish any pre-show training. Review any information that your staff needs to know. Create a booth schedule and give each staffer a copy.  Make sure that time is allotted for meal breaks and for staffers to walk the floor. Give your staffers an itinerary of the show so that they know what to expect.
  • Confirm all your travel plans. Check the status of your flights every 3-4 hours the day before you leave. Confirm your hotel reservations. Prepare duplicate copies of your flight itinerary and hotel confirmations. Leave one copy at your office and keep one copy on you at the show.
  • Track the shipment of your display. Make sure that your display has been delivered on time and keep a copy of the tracking numbers with you.  Before you begin setting up, take inventory of your materials and make sure everything has arrived.

While the week before a trade show can be hectic, taking some extra time to make sure that all your ducks are in a row will prevent you from entering panic mode if something goes wrong. If you use the week before the show to organize, you can spend your time at the trade show concentrating on generating leads and winning new customers.

Speaking at a Trade Show Without Saying a Word : The Power of Body Language

Photo Credit: http://savannahsbdc.blogspot.com

Most of us have heard at one time or another that over 90% of communication is non-verbal. We all give away hints as to how we feel without saying a word. When exhibiting at a trade show, it is imperative to be aware of what your body language says to a potential client. There are several things to keep in mind to appear approachable in this situation.

 

  • Making eye contact is the most crucial sign of interest in what a person is saying.  Eye contact shows that your attention is directed to the person with whom you are speaking. It also shows that you are honest and interested in what the other person has to say.

 

  • Crossed arms are a sign of defensiveness and hostility, which is the last feeling that you want to portray to a potential client. Standing with your hands on your hips is a sign of superiority, and would also not be the way to start a relationship with a client.

 

  • Finding the right proximity to a potential client can be tricky. You do not want to be far away from the person, yet you do not want to stand too close.  A good rule of thumb is to leave 2 feet of space between yourself and the person with whom you are speaking.

 

  • A simple smile can go a long way in making a potential client feel at ease when talking with you. Smiling gives of a feeling of warmth and implies a positive attitude.

 

  • Be conscious to not engage in any fidgeting while exhibiting. Biting your nails, shaking your leg, checking your cell phone, tapping your fingers, and other habits give the impression that you are either not interested in meeting with attendees, or nervous.

 

  • There is a belief that there is a link between speaking fast and deception. When speaking with a potential client, pace your speech to not only make sure that the other person is understanding what you are saying, but to show that you are being sincere and honest.

 

  • Sitting down when exhibiting is a definitive faux pas.  This position means the client has to bend down to speak with you, and gives the client the impression that you are not interested in making new contacts.

 

At a trade show, you only have a few seconds to make an impression on attendees passing by the display. While your display will be what catches their attention, positive body language demonstrated by the staff will invite potential clients to spend more time at your exhibit.

Lisa Shackelford is the Marketing Coordinator at FB Displays & Designs, Inc.