When we launched Design Monday on April 18, 2005, our objective was simple (and perhaps a little naive): to transform the image of Classic Exhibits from a medium-sized systems manufacturer to a leader in innovative portable, modular, and hybrid displays. At the time, we were designing and building some of the industry’s most creative trade show solutions. However, as we joke about it now, the industry perception of Classic Exhibits was “five guys in a garage making folding panel and pop up displays.” We hadn’t been that company for many years, but we had done a lousy job of marketing our new designs and communicating the changes at Classic Exhibits.
Shortly after EXHIBITOR Show 2005, we decided to experiment with emailing two or three designs from our Design Library to our Distributor List. The email (via CoolerEmail) would show renderings with design details and prices. The designs generally fell into three categories: Standard kits, modified kits, or more often, design requests from distributors for specific projects.
Consistency was the key. Once we started Design Monday, we knew we had to continue sending designs every week regardless of our schedule or other commitments. Our Design, Sales, Marketing, and Project Management teams all took ownership, which made the task easier, although no less time-consuming. We are proud to say that since 4/18/2005, we’ve only missed two weeks (when Christmas fell on a Weekend or Monday). During that time we have sent over 700 designs in five plus years.
Design Monday has evolved over the years. We experimented with multiple templates and links to our website. There is a Design Monday Gallery on the Classic website as well as on our Distributors’ Exhibit Design Search sites. Design Monday was the inspiration for Exhibit Design Search when we needed an online tool to sort and filter the displays.
The repetition has allowed us to test new designs, launch new systems (Sacagawea, Perfect 10, Magellan, etc.), and promote services, such as our Rental Department. Classic Exhibits stays “top-of-mind” with our distributors since we’re in touch via email once a week.
If there is one oddity about Design Monday, it’s that we email it at noon PST on Sunday. Why? We want it to be one of first emails our distributors read Monday morning. Of course, we also benefit from those workaholic distributors who read and respond to Design Monday on Sunday. A distributor who lives on the East Coast once told us that his daughter always knows when it is 3 pm EST on Sunday. His phone chimes announcing an email, and she says, “Daddy, it’s Design Monday!”
Measurement and Results:
From a pure quantitative basis, Design Monday has been easy to measure. We use CoolerEmail. Cooler, like other email tracking programs such as Constant Contact, allows us to track usage by email address, by individual links, and by user. We know if someone has read Design Monday once, twice, or fifteen times. Over the past five years, our read rate has never fallen below 35 percent per week and typically hovers around 50 percent. In addition, our email database has grown 10X over that same period and our sales volume has increased 4X.
Anyone familiar with Classic Exhibits, as a distributor, supplier, or competitor, can attest to our transformation since 2005. Suffice to say, we are one of the leaders in portable, modular, and hybrid exhibit design and manufacturing. We’ll leave the praise of Classic to others, but we will acknowledge that it’s been a long time since anyone thought of us as “Five guys in a garage.”
To see Design Monday in Exhibit Design Search:
To see Design Monday on the Classic Home page, scroll to the Design Monday image on the left-hand menu:
Online Design Monday:
Currently, there are fewer than 700 designs in the Design Monday online database. As select designs have become standard kits, we have assigned them kit #’s and moved them into the appropriate product gallery. Keeping them in Design Monday would create duplicates and possible confusion with distributors and end-users.