Generic trade show image with blurred defocusing - concept of big business social gathering for international meeting exchange

How to Build Effective Trade Show Displays and Creative Marketing Collateral

By: Jennifer Carey

Setting your business apart from others at a trade show can be a daunting task. Everyone has the same objective—attract visitors, generate traction and, the end game, close a deal. One determining factor to help achieve this goal is producing an effective trade show display. Creating trade show displays should be a calculated process, and there are several items to take into consideration for your presentation:

  1. What space will you be working in? Before starting your display, research the event’s guidelines so you know what is possible. The more information you have, the better. Look for a floor plan, space measurements, furniture provided and any restrictions or specifications. Pre-planning pays off.
  2. What sizes do you need? Once you research the event specifications, customize your material to them. If you are going to use a table runner, make sure you manufacture to the correct size, as you wouldn’t want a six-foot banner for an eight-foot table. Similarly, if you use stand-up displays, decide whether they will be on the floor or table. You should also avoid presentations that will obstruct your ability to communicate with the audience.
  3. Will printed hand-out materials be needed? If you are sending people away with a media kit, sell sheet or other marketing piece, make it representative of your brand. This will be the only tangible item they will have from your company. Spending the time on design is the key to leaving a lasting impression.
  4. Do promotional giveaways make sense? Freebies are staples at trade shows, but they are not necessarily an effective tactic. You need to think about your audience. You don’t want to target those there to get their 20th free pen, extra keychain or new hat. If you do want to hand out a perk, it needs to be unique and have a specific message.
  5. Do you have a benchmark? Perhaps you’ve seen a booth that you want to match in terms of quality or effectiveness. Research what made their space successful and tailor to your needs.

In all of these cases, you will need to consider the timeline and allow adequate time for design, as well as production. Having a well-executed display sends a positive message to potential consumers because, for some, a trade show may be the time to make your first impression. Like a first date, if it doesn’t go well, they will never want to see you again.