Planning Memorable and Creative Trade Show Displays
What are Trade Shows?
Trade shows are commercial events at which companies in the same or related industries gather to market their products and services. Companies attend trade shows to demonstrate their products, meet potential customers, connect with other companies serving similar markets with which they may collaborate, learn the latest trends and see the newest competitors’ products, and to identify new business prospects. Trade shows are also opportunities to make wholesale sales and to gather leads for future sales. Most trade shows are attended by industry professionals, although some may be open to the general public.
Planning Effective Displays
A successful trade show booth has five elements: an attractive and attention-grabbing display, an effective layout, an energetic sales team, a dynamic presentation, and eye-catching and informative literature. All five elements should tie in to each other, using the same color scheme and design theme, be consistently on-message, and communicate the product’s benefits to the target consumer.
Planning an effective display begins with determining the location of the display, the show’s display specifications, and the services offered by the show, such as set up assistance and equipment rental. Obtain a floor plan of the show and determine your display location. Think about the location of other exhibitors of similar or complementary products. Consider paying for a high-traffic location to increase your exposure.
The display itself must be polished yet eye-catching. If your company does not have a full graphic design department, budget for professional design and production. An attention-grabbing display incorporates a few simple, large-scale graphics that can be seen and understood from ten to 20 feet away. Clean, uncluttered graphics and texts are more effective than displays with smaller, denser sections of text. A stand-alone display board can have more impact than a table-top display and can open up the booth area to allow better circulation.
An effective display communicates your company identity, the product you sell, and highlights the benefits of your product. Graphics should communicate your company’s product or service in seconds to catch the attention of consumers who walk by the booth and glance at your display. Display the company’s name at the top of the booth with a description of the product or service for clarification, if necessary.
Match your display’s color scheme to your company logo, product line, or image. Choose one or two bold colors to highlight items of interest. Do not use too much or too many colors to avoid an unprofessional result. Focus your message to be memorable and concise. Use the same theme in your display, presentation materials, and literature so that after the show attendees will better associate your materials and product.
Virtual trade show displays, which allow interaction with the graphics and visuals, can be effective at grabbing attendees’ attention and educating about them product. Virtual displays incorporate plasma screens, touch screens, video walls, surround-sound, and even Internet capability. Staff members should be available to pitch the product and answer questions immediately after an attendee completes the virtual interaction to provide a human face and tailor the company’s message to meet the attendee’s individual needs.
Once your display has caught a passing attendee’s attention, it must invite the person to enter and learn more about your product. Leave enough open space that customers are able to freely enter and exit the booth without hindrance. Once an attendee has entered your display, keep their attention with an engaging presentation. Video presentations on large, attractive, and crisp screens should communicate your target message quickly, leaving the attendee with enough basic information about your product or service to ask you questions about how the product could fit the attendee’s needs.
Staff your booth adequately to immediately respond to attendee’s questions and provide demonstrations or presentations to browsing attendees. Remove barriers, such as tables, that stand between staff and your audience. Demonstrations of the product should showcase its essential features and benefits concisely. Tactile displays that attendees can handle can provide an opportunity for you to talk with the attendee about the product. Place pamphlets and give-away products near the back of your display to encourage attendees to enter the booth.
Good and Bad Memorable Displays
A good memorable trade show display makes attendees remember your display, your product, and your company name. Trade show advertising, unlike mainstream commercial advertising, gives the advertiser one chance to impress potential customers. The few seconds while attendees walk past your booth or the few minutes some may spend in the booth are the one chance to leave them with a positive impression of your product and a desire to do business with your company. If your display overpowers your product or is not related to your product, attendees may remember the display but forget your product and company. If the attendee leaves remembering your three-tiered chocolate bomb cake but cannot remember your company name, your trade show money has been wasted.
Trade Show Resources
- Choosing a Trade Show: How to make the most effective use of your trade show budget.
- Fairs and Trade Shows: Advantages and disadvantages of advertising your business at fairs and trade shows and how to most effectively choose a venue.
- Trade Show Effectiveness: A study of the effectiveness of trade show advertising.
- Trade Shows and Marketing: Results of a meta-study on the most effective practices for marketing and selling at trade shows.
- Trade Show Tips: Tips on making the most of trade shows.
- Trade Show Planning: Tips for planning your trade show display and exhibit.
- Exhibit Tips: Tips for an effective trade show exhibit.
- Trade Show Marketing: Tips for trade show exhibits and materials to make your display a success.
- Trade Shows and Marketing: How to use trade shows to promote your products.
- Sales at Trade Shows: How to sell your product successfully at trade shows.
- Trade Show Effectiveness: Tips and answers to producer questions about selling at trade shows.
- Trade Show Benefits: The benefits of advertising at trade shows.
- Effective Trade Show Practices: Do’s and Don’ts for trade show marketing.