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Trade Show Booth Display Design Secrets

April 20th, 2009 · 8 Comments · Trade Show Marketing

I thought I’d stick with the “secrets” theme this week, and since I’ve already written about trade show secrets (in general) and trade show booth staffing secrets, I thought I’d write about trade show booth display design secrets. To my mind, creating compelling and effective graphic designs for trade show booth displays shouldn’t require an advanced degree from an Ivy League school. In fact, itโ€™s mainly just common sense. But that doesnโ€™t mean that effective trade show booth displays are really all that common at trade shows. Based on some of the trade show display designs I’ve seen, I have no idea what the designer was thinking. But if you read this post, absorb the wisdom of the trade show guru, and follow these basic steps, you’ll have the “uncommon” knowledge to design and effective and compelling trade show booth display that will stop potential prospects so you can talk to them and turn them into customers. The key to effectiveness is to make sure your design does these three things.

“Secret #1”: Your booth has catch people’s attention when they are passing by your booth space. Understand that your trade show booth is just one of many. Your design must distinguish your booth from all the other trade show booths. If you don’t get their attention, people will just keep going to see the next “interesting” booth. One time-tested way of “getting noticed” is to have a catchy tagline with a captivating background image.

“Secret #2”: You must clearly say who your are, and you must explain what you do. Use big letters for your company name and put it at the top. Then explain what your company does in one or two easy to understand sentences. If people can’t look at your display and immediately know who you are and what you do, you need to start your design over.

“Secret #3”: Your design must tell people WWIFT (what’s in it for them). This is the most important part of an effective design. People are interested in how you can help them – that is why they will stop and talk. For instance, if you are a financial services company, tell them how much money you can make them. No matter what, you must tell people how you will help them.

To conclude, designing effective trade show booth displays involves creating a design that covers the three “secrets” above. Your design must stand out from the crowd and get noticed. Your design must say who you are and what you do. And lastly, your design must say how you can help people. To be a successful trade show marketer, make sure your trade show booth display design accomplishes these three “secrets”. May your next trade show be a huge success, and may you end up with more trade show booth traffic than you know what to do with!

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tim // Apr 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    I love all this talk of secrets! Do you by any chance have a big book of secrets that you flip open with a mischievous grin? What other secrets you got in that book? 11 herbs and spices? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 2 The Trade Show Guru // Apr 20, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Hey Tim (aka King of the Rednecks and FOTSG (Friend of the Trade Show Guru)),
    I may have a “book of secrets”, but obviously, if I did, it would be a secret… and if I told you, well, you know…
    Thanks for dropping by. And yes, maybe the Colonel and I have talked over beers and exchanged “ideas”, but of course I couldn’t say. ~ Steve

  • 3 Master of the Philippines // Apr 21, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    I think branding and product relationship is extremely important in regards to the displays. If your company is “Star Trek Ship Models”, for example, it would make sense to include imagery from the movies and series.

    A big, stupid Star Trek-like logo would probably do a pretty good job too.

  • 4 The Trade Show Guru // Apr 22, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Hey RT,
    Star Trek amazes me for its staying power. Hard to believe there is yet another movie coming out. When it comes to brand power, Star Trek is a great example. ~ Steve

  • 5 Mitch // May 1, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    In about two weeks, I may be giving a presentation in the area where I live. I was told that I could set up a booth for free, since it’s a non-paying gig, and I’m thinking about doing it. In the past, what I did was print out my business brochure on separate, good paper, and posted that onto a folding display board. I’m not sure how eye-catching that is, but my wife did add some colors panels behind it.

    Best I could think of doing; I’m the writer, not a designer! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 6 The Trade Show Guru // May 1, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Hey Mitch,
    Free is good! I think your idea is fine. I think in your case since I’m guessing you’re selling your consulting expertise, that the content of your design is much more important than any flashy images. Just like with a blog, the key is content. People will want to know what you do, and will want to be confident you know what you’re doing. So I think it really matters what you say, not what font you use… Good luck! ~ Steve

  • 7 Kikolani // May 4, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Making sure that your booth clearly and quickly says what your site is about is a must. While walking through a shopping area, there were a bunch of booths, and we were walking by super fast, so the only one out of 20 that caught my eye was State Farm, simply because I recognized their logo.

    ~ Kristi

  • 8 The Trade Show Guru // May 4, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Hi Kristi,
    It helps to be a name brand. It helps in SEO also, especially now with Google I have read. That said, most of us aren’t “name brands” which means we just need to work a little harder and optimize a little more than the next booth, blog, or website. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for stopping by. Hope you had a great honeymoon! ~ Steve

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