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tips for compelling trade show display booths

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I decided to put together a few "tips" and suggestions based on my vast wealth of experience in trade show graphics design (or at least based on seeing a vast wealth of other people's designs). To clarify, in my humble opinion, creating compelling designs for trade show display booths does not require a PhD, MBA, CPA, or WTF degree, nor do you need to be a professional designer or have watch every episode of Project Runway. Rather, it just means that you need to use common sense. However, that doesn’t mean that you'll find compelling trade show display booths are actually very common at trade shows. From what I've seen at the many trade shows I've attended or exhibited at, many trade show exhibitors entirely and completely miss the boat with their trade show design. But you wont' miss the boat, if you read and learn from my brilliantly insightful article [another biased plug, but this time for my ego]. By following these simple points, you'll learn how to create and design an unique and compelling trade show display booth that will drawing prospects walking by into your booth, where you can then talk with them, answer their questions, and convert them into customers (and isn't that the reason you're at the trade show to begin with?) If you create a design that does the following three things, it will be compelling and effective.

First "tip": You've got to get their attention. Think of your trade show display booth as the proverbial needle in a haystack. If you don't have a design that stands out and shouts "LOOK AT ME", your tradeshow booth will just fade into the background with all the other ho-hum tradeshow booths. You won't get very much booth traffic if people just ignore your booth and walk on by. One very successful method of "getting noticed" is to use a colorful background picture with a provocative tagline or catch-phrase. Depending on your company and the requirements of "professionalism" (e.g. is your company a Retirement Investment Services company or a Stretch-Hummer Limousine custom manufacturer?), you might be able to use extremely bright colors, or perhaps even neon green or flaming pink (but probably not if you are trying to market conservative investments for retirement).

Second "tip": Your trade show display booth design needs to communicate who you are and what you do. Use big letters for your company name and put your company name at the top of your design where it's the first thing people see and read. Then explain what your company does in one or two easy to understand sentences or phrases. Test the effectiveness of your design by having a friend look at it for a few seconds and then ask them to tell you who you are and what you do. If you don't get the answer you want, don't blame your friend... start over on your design.

Third "tip": You need to explain the WWIFM factor (what's in it for me, "me" being your potential customer). You must answer this critical question for your prospects if you want to have a compelling and effective design. Prospects are almost always focused on themselves and their needs, and not on your needs (this may seem obvious, but it isn't reflected in many trade show designs I see). You need to use the WWIFM factor and let prospects to know what you can do for them (that is, how you can help them and solve their problems or fulfill their needs). For instance, if you are a search engine optimization company, you might say that you can get their website onto the first page for their key search phrases. Of course, you shouldn't make such a claim if you can back it up, or if it doesn't sound legitimate - whether it is or not. People must be able to believe your claim or you shouldn't make it. So remember, your booth design needs to tell people how you can help them - this is the most important part of any compelling and effective design.

To conclude, designing effective, compelling trade show display booths requires creating a design that covers the three "tips" above. Your design must grab people's attention and draw them it. Your design must highlight your company name and what your company does. And finally, your design must communicate the benefits you offer to your customer. You don't necessarily need to be a graphic designer to create a compelling design, though a designer may help to make it more attractive. To make your trade show design, you just need to use common sense, and make sure your trade show display booth design accomplishes the three tips explained in this article. Make your next tradeshow or convention your most successful show yet! And may you end up with more trade show booth traffic than you know what to do with!


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