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designing a good trade show booth

17 Commandments for Better Trade Show Booth Design

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You have about 5 seconds to get a potential customer's attention at a trade show, and to then make an impression. What kind of impression do you want to make? Follow these 17 commandments, and make sure your first impression is a good impression.

1. Your trade show booth must be eye-catching and attention-grabbing. If you're looking for creative and different ways to draw more attention and traffic at your next trade show, check out these trade show booth ideas.

2. Big colorful graphics these days are a must. If you don't know where to get them or need some ideas, just google the word "stock photography" and then browse through the websites you find. Or visit for impressive but budget-priced stock images.

3. There are lots of new options in portable trade show displays these days, check them out.  Portable displays can be used for 10ft by 10ft spaces, but also for larger booth spaces.  They are much more cost-effective than modular displays that have to be crated and trucked - though expensive modular displays were my company's bread and butter.

4. Your graphics MUST say who your company is.

5. Your graphics MUST say what your company does.

6. Your graphics should say why you are better than your competitors.

7. Pictures are great, but don't forget some text to communicate the above 3 points.

8. Keep all of your text at waist level or above.  Don't make people look down to read.  And keep your text big and short, and easily readable.  Don't make it a novel.

9. Plan ahead and start early. Don't wait until the last minute to come up with your design concept, determine your trade show message, and create your trade show graphics. Plan ahead, way ahead. Do not procrastinate! Attend several trade shows well in advance and wander the trade show aisles to see what kind of trade show graphics other exhibiting companies are using. Let them help inspire you. Find some trade show display company websites and see if they have same trade show display designs available on their websites. Review them for more design inspiration. The key is that it is easier to be creative and come up with an amazing design if you give yourself as much time as possible and get started NOW, not two weeks before the show!

10. Have a website and include the website url somewhere on your design. It's up to you if you want to also include a Facebook page url and a twitter account... I think those two things are a bit overdone.

11. Think about using a famous or authoritative quote for your trade show display.

12. Get a proof of your trade show booth displays graphics before they are printed.  Ask someone to who doesn't know much about your company to quickly look at it.  Then take the proof away and ask them if they can tell you what your company's name is, what it does, and what they know about it.

13. Get some kind of halogen lighting for your booth.  Many other trade show exhibitors don't bother, and it's an easy way to stand out among the sea of same-as-the-next-guy trade show booths.

14. Pay the premium for the plush padded carpet.  Prospects will notice.

15. Leave the front of your trade show booth space open so that people can easily come in.

16. Keep your trade show giveaways inside your booth space so people have to come in and say hello. Don't make it easy to snatch and dash. If you invest in giving out free trade show giveaways, make sure you get something out of it. If you don't know what to hand out, check out these trade show giveaway ideas. Just make sure that your company gets something by handing out freebies, and not just your visitors.

17. Don't be a like crotchety old man and think that computers are too complicated. There are some amazing software design programs out there for creating absolutely stunning trade show booth designs, plus just creating 3D mock-ups of the actual trade show booth layout. It's amazing what computers can do for design. Don't be afraid to use them.


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