Exhibiting in a trade show can involve a major investment of money and time. But the financial returns for your business can be excellent if you learn some of the secrets of trade show booth success before signing up for a show and investing in your displays.
- Rent the smallest possible booth space for your first trade show. The first time you exhibit, you’ll learn a lot about what works for you and your products and what doesn’t, and what you’d like to change for your next show. Also, seeing other exhibitors’ booths and ideas will inspire you to evolve various aspects of your own display. So it’s a good idea to keep your trade show expenses lower as you learn, by renting a smaller space and starting with a simple display.
- Create an open trade show exhibit design. Make it a space people can enter comfortably without feeling trapped. If you set a table across the front of your booth and stand behind it, it’s harder to draw customers in and involve them – so they tend to walk on by.
- Keep your booth uncluttered so customers can focus on what’s important – your product. When approaching your display, anyone should be able to discern immediately what your booth is promoting. No one is going to take the time to study it and guess, when there are hundreds of other booths to visit.
- Before planning your trade show booth display, find out everything you can about your allotted space. Know its dimensions, where it will be located in the building, what companies or organizations will be in your neighboring booths, whether it’s in a high or low traffic area, whether you have access to lighting and electricity, and anything else that will affect your exhibit display setup.
- For your first trade show, consider renting booth display components. Rental displays can relieve you of the issues of transportation and storage, and allow you to be a little more daring in your exhibit design than you might be if you were purchasing them. Also, studies show that many first-time exhibitors never do a second trade show. If you only exhibit once or twice, purchasing your own exhibit components doesn’t make economic sense.
- Design your exhibits with an eye to keeping shipping costs low. Oversized or heavy displays can be very expensive to ship to the trade show, and may also require that you hire expo personnel to bring them into the exhibit hall and help you set them up. Opt for smaller, collapsible, lighter weight displays as much as possible.
- Plan to secure your expensive items so that they can’t be stolen at a trade show. If you use a laptop computer for a multimedia presentation at your booth, be sure to have it securely locked to your display, and take it with you at night if it’s a multiple-day event. Display the samples of your more expensive products either well inside your booth where they can’t “walk off” as attendees stroll by, or inside a locked display case.
- For the most professional image, create a unified appearance for your trade show exhibit design. Choose no more than three colors for your display elements and table coverings – such as gray, white, and blue. Each exhibit component should be one of your three colors. Also, choose no more than three textures – such as brushed metal, matte vinyl, and clear acrylic; each display element should be one of these textures. This creates a professionally pulled-together booth that lets your products stand out in the display.
In summary, although it’s tempting to go all out when designing your first trade show exhibit design, it makes more sense to keep your first booth small and simple, and focus your energy on marketing your products and networking at your first show.
During the event, learn as much as possible about how you’d like to alter your exhibit design for the next show, and write down all your ideas either during or immediately after the show.
Once you have your first trade show under your belt, you’ll have a much sharper idea of what you do – and don’t – need in a trade show exhibit design to make each successive show your most profitable one to date.