The truth is there are some events where all that is needed is a table and a retractable banner. The purpose of a trade show exhibit isn’t to gather leads, answer questions, or sell product. That’s the staff’s responsibility. The booths job is to capture trade show attendees attention. I’ve worked small shows where attracting attention wasn’t a problem because nearly every attendee visited every booth. That’s not to say that the booth shouldn’t be clean and professional. Of course it should. It just doesn’t have to work as hard at enticing people to stop as a larger show.

Don’t let your Booth get Lost at the Big Show

On the other hand, it’s easy to get lost in a big show. My wife calls it “The Stuff Effect” after a given amount of time everything in the show becomes stuff—it all looks the same. So how can you make your booth stand out?

Be Unique. Don’t be afraid to experiment. How many booths in the show look the same–square space, table with a branded tablecloth, a backdrop, and a few brochures? I attended a show geared toward Firefighters where one of the most visited booths had a fire truck. Another had people try on firefighting gear. And still another had a fire hydrant to show how their hydrant snorkel worked. How can you be unique?

Be Open. Design an open both to encourage engagement. One of the worst things any exhibitor can do is block their space with tables, chairs, and product. Put all of this at the rear of the booth. Make it easy for attendees to enter your booth and look around. A booth design should be inviting; you want visitors to be attracted to your booth. That’s difficult to accomplish if the entrance is blocked or restricted. Putting a table in front of your display may inhibit folks from stopping and inquiring about your product.

Tell a story. Share who you are, what you do, and most importantly, why a visitor should care. Explain the problems you solve, share the benefits of working with you, and define your USP (Unique Sales Position).

Share social media. I see this all the time. I know a vendor is on Facebook or Twitter because I’ve followed their posts, yet I get to the booth, and there’s no mention of social media. In the least share social media icons, better yet add a call to action such as “Follow us on Facebook”, and why not take it one step further and offer an incentive, “Like us on Facebook and receive a free bag!”

Don’t try to do too much. Putting too many displays, signs, and furniture in too small of space is distracting at best and off-putting at the worst. Keep it simple.

Your Exhibit Should be Attractive not a Distraction

Your booth should be appealing enough that people passing by in a crowded aisle pause to look. The next show you attend walk the show and observe the booths where people stop. What makes them attractive, what design features add to the display, and how may of those features could be applied to your exhibit at your nest show?