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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.