trade show best practices

We’ve written before about how to utilize some core design principles in your trade show booth design.  While some of the points there might seem obvious, we can’t stress enough how important it is to pay attention to the basics.

Having an easy to read, easy to understand back wall is key.  Using dynamic, hi-res, impactful images can really make a difference between you and your competition.  Knowing your booth layout, the rules, and the regulations before you arrive is not something to be ignored either.  If you haven’t read that post, it might be worth your time.

Those are the basics.  Now, let’s think about some more detailed tips.


Trade Show Booth Design

Trade show attendees will decide quickly whether they’re going to check out your booth (and your product) or not.  Having a good booth design is critical.  Covering the basics is a must.  But if you want to be remarkable, make sure your booth is both appropriate to the venue and approachable to the widest range of people.


Be Appropriate To Your Venue

Trade Show Booth Design

We’ve seen some trade show booths that do not quite seem to fit the venue.  A booth at an Outdoor and Fishing show that has an industrial feel, for example.  While you don’t want to look just like everyone else, your trade show booth should match the personality and style of the show as a whole.  Make sure you’re in the right place, and make sure that the viewer clearly understands why you’re in the trade show.  This can be accomplished either with the look of your booth’s hardware, or with the graphics.


Your Booth Should Be Approachable

Your trade show booth should be approachable

Approachable booth, with plenty of information

Aside from having a stand out design, clear info, and a great message, make sure your booth is approachable.  Having a range of display options is important.  If a trade show attendee wants to read your brochure instead of talking to one of your reps, this should be an option.

Some people like brochures and pamphlets, even to look over at a later date.  If applicable, being able to demo your product is important as well.  Others will want to talk and spend time with you or your staff at the trade show.  Both of these are common, so be prepared to cover as many possibilities as you comfortably can.  (I say comfortably because let’s face it, even after these points, if you’re nervous or unprepared it will show more than any problems with your booth design.)

Take your time, be prepared, and trust in both your product and your trade show booth design.



Visual Marketing Trade Show BoothsIf there’s one clear advantage of visual marketing in trade show booths, it’s the ability to capture and maintain the attention of trade show attendees. As we all know, getting attendees to stop at your booth is a vital step towards capturing leads.

Visual marketing in trade show booths combines printing, and digital content to maximize your trade show booth’s impact and helps to convey your message in a memorable manner. The best way to do this is with a simple, impactful design that captures attention. Here are a few things to think about:


Pictures increase engagement

Use graphics to create an emotional connection with visitors and encourage them to learn more about your company. What makes for an engaging graphic? It should attract attention, but also be relevant to your brand and messaging. Don’t use kittens to sell your sports products, or happy families to sell technology.

Original visual content

The last thing you want is to invest in visual content strategy, only to find out that another booth at the same trade show is using the same stock photos. Create unique video content or images, using custom graphics and original shots of your actual products and employees. With the cost and weight of large monitors coming down dramatically, adding a large video presentation to your booth is an eye catching alternative. Showcase the great features and benefits of your products via stunning video graphic presentations.

Include calls to action

Once you’ve attracted a visitor’s attention with your graphic or display, you want to help them decide what to do next – which is why a call to action is essential. Here are some samples:

“Request a free product demo!”

“Receive our free whitepaper”

“Sign up for a free estimate.”


Visual Marketing in Trade Show Booths Reflects your brand

The graphics, visuals, colours, and tone of your displays should match your brand. No whimsical lettering or imagery for a serious brand, or a serious tone for a fun and upbeat brand. Ensuring your visual messaging matches your brand helps visitors to connect, which means they’ll be more willing to hear a pitch from your salespeople.

Check the big picture

What does your visual marketing message look like to attendees? When you’re creating trade show graphics make sure important text or your focal point are clearly visible from 20 feet away. In regards to text, here are some suggestions for the correct text size to ensure maximum visibility.

Finally, you can increase your engagement by combining visual marketing with social media, including graphically-based social media channels, including Pinterest or Instagram.

Please contact us for some free creative input on creating  visually stunning trade show graphics.

Photo credit: Twobee

ID-10075109Why do trade show event organizers charge so much for booth space? For one, because they know that companies will pay it – and they will pay it because trade shows are well worth the investment. Trade shows provide companies a huge opportunity to forge new connections with people interested with what you offer. Once you leave the trade show, however, the organizer’s involvement ends and your company takes over. What you choose to do with the information will affect the success of your trade show. What is meant here is that your ability to record and follow up on the information you gather will ultimately determine how much business you create as a result of your trade show participation.

What to do with Business Cards

At the least, when you leave a trade show you’ll have a stack of business cards or a notepad of contact information. Your first order of business should be, at the very least, to input the data into a spreadsheet or sales software program. The longer the information goes un-catalogued, the more likely it is that your company won’t act on the information.

Tip – Ideally, have someone (or take shifts) enter contact information into a spreadsheet during the trade show, so your team can start making calls as early as possible. A business card scanner can help expedite this process.

Encouraging Information Collection

Half the battle at a trade show is encouraging visitors to part with their information – so your company needs to put together a plan for gathering this info, preferably offering a type of incentive. Probably the simplest method is to offer a draw for free products or services related to your company in exchange for contact information. However, you can pre-qualify your leads by having them fill out a brief questionnaire to ensure that you only contact leads with the best chance of a sales conversion.

Data Collection Methods

What is the best way to collect lead data at your next trade show event? There are a few different methods; the best depends on your access to technology and your ability to incorporate/promote said technology into your trade show booth. Here are a few options:

1)          Tablet or Computer: Encourage visitors to enter contact information

Pros: Easily upload contact information into your system.

Cons: You can only capture the information of visitors directly at your booth.

2)          Text Message: Have visitors text a keyword to a text-only mobile number, including their contact information to receive an entry or promotion.

Pros: Easily to upload contact information, promote via social media, get information from people not directly in front of your booth.

Cons: Your company needs to promote the code heavily on marketing material, websites, emails, etc. to ensure everyone sees it.

3)          QR Code: Add a QR code to your marketing materials that opens an information sheet that they can fill in for entry.

If your event organizer is also collecting participant data, ask for an electronic copy of the information and include it in your marketing efforts for future contacts. The same applies to ongoing collection; your website should have a form or email capture system to pick up leads that land on your website looking for information.

Lead Follow-Up

Before each trade show begins, once you’ve decided on the method of lead capture, establish a timeline for lead follow-up. Ideally this follow-up will be executed on a number of different channels, such as electronic, mail, or personal contact. By targeting your leads in different manners, rather than sticking to one method, your company will have a much better chance of establishing two-way communication.

Your follow-up schedule should include the following:

–          Timing: How long after lead capture should the message be sent?

–          Method: What is the format?

–          Message: What is the message?

–          Next Step: What is the next step you are encouraging your lead to take?

–          Responsibility: Who is responsible for ensuring the message is sent? Who will contact be sent to?

Having a centralized document can help everyone stay on top of where each contact is in the sales funnel each contact, as well as what is to happen next. Ideally, all initial follow-up should be automated to ensure no one is left out.


So what should each message say, and exactly when should you sent it? Here’s a suggestion:

–          Immediately send a text message or email thanking the contact for connecting and for providing you with their info. You can also confirm entry into a sweepstake, provide a coupon code, or offer a sales incentive.

–          Within 2 days send an email containing trust-building content (free information, tips, etc.) and invite readers to get in touch/follow via social media.

–          In 3-7 days leave a voicemail making a special offer, with a deadline.

–          4-6 weeks after (and every 4-6 weeks afterwards), make contact via voicemail, email, or text. Communicate sales or trust building info to encourage communication or a visit to your website.

–          Use regular social media posts to keep in touch with your followers, encourage new followers, and communicate about new products and promotions.

Applying a cross-channel marketing strategy that is moderately automated helps to reduce the workload of sales staff and helps contacts feel like they are valued throughout the year, not just immediately after the trade show.

Next Steps

Put together your company’s a) marketing plan, b) messaging, and c) schedule, as well as a method of capturing and tracking leads – and make sure everyone in your company is aware of the plan. Put it into practice, see how it works, assess, and revise!

Photo credit: Renjith Krishnan