Published September 2018
Updated August 2021
Understanding how to set up your exhibit space booth is crucial for succeeding in the fast-paced trade show atmosphere. Trade shows are typically only a few short days in length where you will see 99% new people continuously. You have one shot at catching their attention.
Did you know? It takes an average of 3 seconds for someone to walk by your 10x10 space? Read below for tips and to-do’s that will catch the attention of those attendees and give your sales people someone to sell to.
The most important consideration when setting up your booth display is to project your company and its products prominently and succinctly so that anyone who walks by knows:
- Who you are
- What your product or service is
- The benefits
As mentioned, you have 3 seconds to convey these points in your signage and the way your booth is set up. If attendees do not see something that they need or want or find interesting, they will continue to walk past you. It does not help for you to yell out to them and encourage them to step into your booth. They will either like what they see and stop or they will keep walking.
Express Your Brand Consistently
Brand management is not just for the big players. It is something every company should do in every stage of your business. Over time, consistent branding defines your identity, builds recognition and creates preference. In fact, designing a trade show display becomes much easier (and more fun) when you are following a branding guideline.
Use colors, logo, graphics, signage and more to reinforce your brand identity in your booth space.
In this blog post we are speaking primarily to those companies exhibiting in a 10x10 up to a 20x20. If you are a large, national company and have moved on to sophisticated, designer exhibits, we recommend searching for those custom displays and the service needed. We guarantee once you get to this place in your company’s life you will be grateful for the professionals who can do this for you. Skyline Exhibits.
Elements to consider when designing your booth:
- Graphics– This is a great way to tell your brand’s story. When designing the graphics think about your target audience. Create a picture in your customer’s mind showing them using or benefiting from your product.
- Lighting – Don’t skip the lighting. LED lights are durable, help highlight graphics and brighten up a space.
- Backlighting – This a great way to make your graphics, product and brand pop. It adds interest to the booth space and will make your exhibit stand out from the competition while attracting attendees.
- Merchandising – Only bring products you want to showcase at the show. Too much product in the booth can cause clutter and distraction.
- Movement – Use a monitor in your booth with a looping video or images to add movement to the booth space. This is a great way to not only bring motion into your booth but to show off your past work!
- Utilize the products that you sell, to decorate the booth in a functional way. If you sell furniture, place various pieces to act as a lounge, if you sell wood benches have one in the space for customers to sit on.
How to set up your space…
The first consideration should be flooring.
Flooring can enhance brand recognition:
- by printing your logo on your floor covering: carpet, hard wood or tile
- using brand colors to strengthen your brand presence throughout the space
- help your product stand out if you can incorporate it into the flooring in some way.
Or like the below, a decking company using their decking as floor covering and to promote their product.
Next, consider your signage.
- Graphics work well if they draw attention with color, lighting or motion.
- Signage should be visible and prominently placed for all to see, from any direction
- Your company name should be clear, and your tagline readable and helpful in distinguishing what you do or sell
- Remember to keep it simple as you are limited in how much time it takes someone to read and understand as they walk by. Make it simple and clear.
- Don’t sign every item you sell, but rather show the overall theme of your company, such as Lawn Equipment, then your tagline (how it helps or benefits its users)
- Use kiosks or looping monitors next to individual Lawn Equipment items to explain each item in more depth
Or, like the below, where their primary function is to sell Stair Systems. But notice the detail items they also sell? They are off to the sides with kiosks to explain. It gives customers a broader view of what this company is all about.
You will most likely have literature, brochures, business cards on hand to give away to those interested.
We recommend displaying these on a nice looking table, or skirted card table, in the back of your space. This way attendees are more likely to have a conversation with you before picking up the information best suited to them and their situation.
It is a good idea to also have clip boards and pens on hand with lead cards to catch attendees during busy times. So that even if you and your staff don’t have time to speak with every attendee that enters your booth, you will still be able to capture their information and reach out to them during slow times or right away after the show ends.
Make sure you capture ‘level of interest’ on the lead card so you know when and how to follow up. It is a good practice to call these leads first as you didn’t have the time to qualify them by speaking with them in the booth. Don’t forget!
This is the primary goal and purpose of having a booth in the trade show! To speak with potential customers and qualify their interest, their need, and the timing of it. So that you can place them in your sales funnel appropriately so as not to miss their sale.
Make sure you arrange your booth space so you don’t create a barrier for entry.
If there is a table blocking entrance to your booth, attendees will continue to walk on by. And you’ve then lost a potential customer. Place your kiosks and informational tables so that traffic can flow in between and around them. People subconsciously do not like the feeling of being trapped in a space and will avoid entering if they can’t see a flow in and out.
Be creative in how you display your products. Use lighting to highlight and back light specific products to bring attention.
Some tips to refer to:
- Declutter your graphics. Think about the overly busy billboards you sometimes see along a highway – you often can’t tell who the advertiser is, let alone what value proposition is being communicated. Does your signage suffer from a similar problem? Leave plenty of negative space in your signage so the viewer can focus on what is important – unused white space is your friend, not your enemy.
- If your booth space is small, you need to be especially selective in your choice of furnishings. Limit the design elements to three areas, such as an information table, a product area and your sales area. A good tip is to use lighter colors, if it fits with your brand image, as it will cause your space to look bigger.
3. Keep lighting simple. If you have key products on display, position your brighter lights above those products, to help them stand out as featured in the booth
4. Select colors from your brand to accentuate your brand presence, but keep it simple to avoid competing visual elements.
5. Consider incorporating hanging structures in your booth design. Suspended graphics open up the floor plan and draw attendees into your booth.
Also consider graphics or structural ways to tie your overhead elements into ground level so the attendee can connect both elements and stay focused
6. Use a simple interactive element to increase engagement and add levity to your booth. Active or playful booth games can not only attract foot traffic to your booth, but can be used as symbols of your company’s innovative approach to product selection and service solutions.
Rent Your Booth
If after reading this you conclude you just don’t have the time, staff, or resources to design and set up your exhibit space, then we recommend you rent your exhibit. This will save time and stress and better prepare you to focus on what really matters—working your exhibit and gaining sales and leads.
Booth rental can sometimes be a more practical solution than owning, particularly if you’re uncertain about your long-term commitment to exhibiting. Short-term rental expenses may make more sense than buying and amortizing custom materials that may later end up going unused. When locally sourced, rentals can often save you shipping and storage expenses.
If you like your display but it’s been in use for a few years, and maybe don’t have the budget to design a new space? Consider updating your signage or adding a few new graphics or other interesting elements.
Keep your trade show graphics as simple as possible, so you can reuse them from year to year. Save the details, limited time offers, etc., for your booth staffers to share in show floor conversations.
Storing your display
Of course at the end of the trade show you will want to pack up and crate your exhibit space display to keep it dry and fresh for its next use. We suggest water proof crates, and storing in dry places off the ground/floor.
Ensure you fold, roll and place display items strategically in crates so when you use them next there will be no surprises.
For more information on crates and storing your display, we refer you to the experts: Skyline Exhibits.
In conclusion….Keep It Simple.
If you remember to design your space with these prominent rules….you will find your success!
- Keep it Simple: Remember, you have roughly 3 seconds to attract a prospective client’s attention – especially on a busy trade show floor. Who you are must be obvious and clear. If your company name includes abbreviations, make sure you spell it out—especially if you are exhibiting in a national show where local attendees will not be familiar.
- What You Do is the second most important message after your name. Does your tag line spell out that distinction? Be specific to inform attendees what it is you do. For example, “Quality Service and Support” is not as strong as “Vacuum Quality Service and Support”.
- Support Your Message with Bullet Points – if needed. Further define your message with 3-5 bullet points, not paragraphs. Your prospective client should be able to scan them quickly and answer the question as to how you fit into their world. You are helping them to qualify themselves before they ever step into your booth space.
- BEST YET--A Picture. You have heard it your whole life and you know it to be true…a picture takes the place of a 1000 words. And in a trade show space this is necessary! Use images that will help your prospective client put themselves into the solution you are providing. The images should make your prospect want that feeling the image represents.
The graphics show people enjoying the benefits of Pool-Trol’s products, rather than the products themselves
5. Keep the Look and Feel consistent with your other marketing materials. The first thing a new prospect does once they step into your exhibit is gather more information about your company. If what they learned does not match other marketing materials such as your website, business card, & brochures, then your credibility goes down. Mixed messages, various logos, or a multitude of different looks raise concern about your stability in the minds of prospects.
We hope this short list of essentials enables you to re-examine your current display and tweak it. If you are starting from scratch you should find it easy to build on these principles.
Good luck and Good Sales!
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