A trade show provides your business with the opportunity to capture the interest of a captive audience already interested in what you have to offer. This is not to diminish the importance of designing the right trade show booth. Even though its attendees are interested in the theme of the trade show, you still need to find an effective way to attract and retain their attention.
When you plan your trade show booth, keep the following key elements in mind:
Trade show attendees need to be able to identify quickly and efficiently what your company does, whether you’re a small startup or a large conglomerate. It takes a person attending a trade show from three to 10 seconds to decide whether to engage with a brand or move on. If people are not able to instantly identify the purpose behind your brand, it is unlikely they’ll stop at your booth to learn more.
Consider your banners and pop-up backdrops carefully. You want them to be branded, but something in your booth needs to demonstrate what it is your company or business does—or sells. What props and display items would integrate easily into your display that instantly say, “THIS IS WHAT WE DO”?
Psychologists have long discussed the role of color in human response and consider it when building recognition in a trade show booth. Yes, you want to work with your brand colors, but think carefully about what colors complement them in a way that speaks to show attendees to help your exhibit stand out from other exhibitors. Consider higher contrast items when compared against the background. Ensure any complementary colors you use to stand out coincide with the message of your company and the emotion that the marketing draws.
Offering a free item for stopping by your trade show booth can be effective for recognition, but connect your free giveaway to what your business does, or the effort is wasted. T-shirts have only so much recognition value, but if you’re a hardware or tools distributor and you invest in branded small flathead screwdrivers or wrenches, that’s a memorable and useable connection to your business. A construction company? Reflective vests or locking tape measures are related to your industry and can be used repeatedly. You don’t need to spend a lot, but do spend wisely on take-aways for recognition. A port-a-potty company offered a branded porta-potty shaped stress reliever, which was a silly, but fun and memorable, way to provide recognition for the business.
If you sell products, bring samples. Even of your less-in-demand products. Trade show attendees want to see physical examples of products. They want to feel, inspect and touch them.
“It allows for a more engaging experience and will help them remember your product long after they leave the show,” advises Dmitry Lipinskiy, CEO of Storm Group Roofing. “The key is to stay in the minds of those who interact with your booth, and physical product examples can help you do just that.”
Humans are a visually stimulated species who use their eyes to help them gravitate toward the things that interest them the most. An attractive and stimulating trade show booth includes strategically placed graphics highlighted by subtle lighting that is designed to pique their curiosity without overwhelming the senses.
Evolve Stone is an example of a company who did a trade show booth well and added to its gravitas as the 2022 NAHB International Builders’ Show® Best in Show Award and Most Innovative Building Material of the Year. Evolve Stone’s exhibit space at IBS included a display of products that attendees could touch and see on a larger scale than a single square sample of stone veneer. Because Evolve Stone is offered in different colors, it was important to display each color for context.
Demonstrations highlighting features of Evolve Stone, such as its use with nail finishers, was key to creating visual appeal and memorability.
According to the company, “Evolve Stone answers the need for a more efficient installation process with a highly workable, lightweight stone veneer product that installs up to 10X faster than natural stone and traditional stone veneer. Evolve Stone provides crews more flexibility and is DIY-friendly, as it doesn’t require specialty training, specialty tools, mortar or staging.”
This is easy to say—and must be said—but more powerful to show. And Evolve Stone did just that at IBS.
When designing your trade show booth, aim for an open setup. Keep the flow easy and smooth. A table placed between your business and the trade show attendees provides a psychological barrier that could prompt someone to skip visiting your booth. Instead of placing a table in front of your business, locate it in the back or off to the side, if it must be used. Focus, instead, on creating open spaces that are bright, inviting and welcoming.
Put yourself and your team out where attendees can see and easily talk with you. If you’re standing or sitting behind that table you left out, the barrier effect doubles. An attendee has to really want to talk with you hurdle over all the psychological obstacles.
Also, draw on psychology again. Clutter anywhere can stop a free flow of traffic, but it also inhibits humans from embracing a space and induces stress.
Researchers found that office clutter decreases job performance and workplace satisfaction, and relates to indecision and emotional exhaustion, according to Psychology Today. It can be the same with an exhibit booth. Spring for the larger space size, if possible, but if you can’t, at least work to keep the space uncluttered.
The look and perception of a booth is important. When attendees walk by your booth, they judge it quickly. If your space overwhelms them with information, stuff or even an organized mess, they may not stop.
By addressing these three key elements, you can create a trade show booth that helps you meet your business objectives. Creativity, coupled with a strong focus on delivering what trade show attendees want, is a winning strategy that’s applicable to any industry.
Check out our blog, The Ideal Trade Show Checklist & Timeline, for more tips, or contact us to start a conversation about how to boost your booth at a trade show.