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Top 3 Trade Show Display Design Mistakes

December 21st, 2008 · 6 Comments · Trade Show Marketing

I puzzled, and puzzled, till my puzzler was sore… about what to write for this post. The following is what I came up with. It seems that with the end of the year fast approaching, there will be a lot of lists coming out, so I thought I’d beat the rush and get my list out now. Being the trade show guru, I also thought I ought to write a list about a trade show related topic. “Mistakes” is always a catchy word to have in a title (probably the word “mistakes” is even more popular than the word “secrets“, but not as popular as “free“). Top 3 lists always seems very popular too. So I added these thoughts all together and came up with the title: Top 3 Trade Show Display Design Mistakes.

The top 3 trade show display design mistakes all have to do with the overall message of the design. A good trade show display design needs to have a clear, focused message. The design needs to state in no uncertain terms who the company is, what they do, what they can do for the customer, and offer some credible proof to back up their claim.

MISTAKE NUMBER ONE ~ Being too vague.
If you look at a trade show display design and you have no idea what the company does or why you should talk to them, they have blown it. While there is nothing wrong with a big captivating picture and a clearly visible company name, it that’s all there is to the design is, it is too vague. The design needs to include the message above, and cover who, what, and why.

MISTAKE NUMBER TWO ~ Being too specific.
Nearly as common as the the mistake of a design being too vague is the mistake of a design being too specific. Some people get carried away with their message and write a novel. Every word on the display design should be read and digested in under a minute, or less. People aren’t going to stop and read 1,000 words, and if you have that many words (or more), the font size is probably going to be so small that they’ll need to get within a foot of the display, blocking it from everyone else’s view.

By the way, here’s a bonus design secret: keep most if not all of your text on a trade show booth display design on the upper third of the display. This will insure it is visible over the heads of the crowd that will be at your trade show booth… the crowd you’ll have because you know about the importance of planning for a trade show, right?

MISTAKE NUMBER THREE ~ Missing the boat.
Having a short, concise message isn’t enough if the message is focused on you and your company instead of on your prospective customer. The message needs to tell the customer what’s in it for them. You need to tell them how you’ll make their lives easier, solve their problems, or save them money. Your claims need to be believable and you should offer credible testimonials to back up the claims. Your design must have a clear message, and it must be all about the customer and their needs.

So there you have three major trade show display design mistakes (and a free bonus secret!). Feel free to leave a comment below if you have another design mistake to add to the list. Perhaps we can make this a top 10 list instead of a top 3 list!

And of course if you’re looking for a trade show display, you can’t go wrong checking out the trade show displays at the company I work for, including this easy pop up trade show display. Are you still struggling to come up with the Ultimate Christmas Gift? Maybe you should consider how a nicely wrapped trade show display with a big bow on it might look under your Christmas tree? Of course, you’ll probably need a pretty big Christmas tree to fit a trade show display under it. 🙂

Movie question follow-up:
On my last post, I asked the following question: The other night we watched a movie with a turtle guru in it who said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a Gift, which is why it is called the Present.
Does anyone know what movie we watched? Tim guessed “Finding Nemo” and Will guessed “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – We Wish You a Turtle Christmas”. Both good guesses, but both wrong. So the question still stands. Does anyone know what the movie was?

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 cardiogirl // Dec 22, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    I have no clue where that quote came from and I’m trying to stay honest so I’m not going to Google it.

    But it sounds like something from that self help book by Spencer Johnson “The Present: The Secret to Enjoying Your Work and Life, Now!”

    My husband has a quote very similar to that, from the book, next to our computer. Thing is, I see it so often I no longer see it, you know what I mean?

    I guess that message is not clear enough or concise enough. But it’s not at a trade show either.

    /end ramble

    p.s. Did you ever come up with an awesome X-mas present for your wife?

  • 2 The Trade Show Guru // Dec 22, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    hey cardiogirl,
    Thanks for stopping by again!
    If you googled the quote, I think you would find the original source, but not the recent movie I’m referring to that the quote was used in. And I don’t mind your rambling… I do it all the time.
    As to the gift (kudos on your memory), I took our kids shopping and while we didn’t find the Ultimate Christmas Gift, we did have fun and did manage to find something pretty nice. Plus she has me. 🙂
    Merry Christmas! ~ Steve

  • 3 Will // Dec 23, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    One word…. Oogway.

    That plane certainly is some sort of a mistake to end up there! The three points highlighted in your post could be good advice for many things. Great post.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Steve.

  • 4 The Trade Show Guru // Dec 24, 2008 at 12:36 am

    hi Will,
    Yes, this time you are correct! Oogway, the turtle guru/master, uttered those words we should all live by in the movie Kungfu Panda!
    Thanks for the compliment, and Merry Christmas to you and your family too! ~ Steve

  • 5 Tim // Dec 24, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Well, I haven’t seen that movie yet, so I’m still in the dark!
    Your mistake # 3 really stands out for me. I usually pass right by displays that might be interesting, but it isn’t immediately obvious how it might apply to me so I don’t bother. Ambiguous names and fronts also don’t help the cause, as you pointed out. These also don’t let us know “what’s in it for me”…

  • 6 The Trade Show Guru // Dec 24, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Tim,
    KungFu Panda has Jack Black (well, his voice) in it. It’s a fun, cute movie. And you’re right, it’s critical that a trade show display’s focus should be on the customer and “what’s in it for them”.
    Thanks as always for stopping by, and Merry Christmas! ~ Steve

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