trade show

Trade Show Exhibit Tips: A Unique Opportunity

Tips to help you get the most out of your trade show exhibit investment.

There are more than 2,500 trade shows annually in the US alone. A trade show provides your company with a unique opportunity to get in front of a pre-qualified audience and truly engage with them.

Getting the most out of your trade show investment takes planning. To that end, here are a number of trade show exhibit tips:

Frontage on Main Street

The first key is to acquire frontage on Main Street. When contracting with the show management’s sales department, attempt to rent your square footage left to right along the aisle. Depth is far less important as compared to width. The number of steps the buyer must take to walk past your exhibit is important.

The more steps the buyer must take to walk by, the wider the exhibit, the more time and opportunity for the buyer to be attracted to your products.

Put yourself in the attendee’s place. The floor is crowded; there are many vendors and you’re not quite sure where you’re going or who might have what you’re looking for.

How do you, as an exhibitor, make buyers do a double take? How do you stop them in their tracks and draw them into your booth? These are key questions that exhibitors should be asking themselves well before they get to the show.

Trade Show Exhibit Tips

Here are some tips for your trade show exhibit to help you get the most out of your investment:

  • Grids

    Versatile, strong, and practical, grids are the foundation on which you can build your look. Backing them with white or color flame resistant foam board, instead of allowing the curtains to show through, will give your booth a new look and a bolder personality. Color sells!

  • Flooring

    Consider a white masonite floor instead of (or on top of) the standard, run-of-the-mill trade show carpeting. The white floor reflects light onto the wall-mounted merchandise.

  • Light It Up

    Dramatic lighting creates instantaneous attention and attracts customers.

  • Logo

    Place your logo high and make it at least 2’ x 4’ in size. Headlines sell newspapers. Your logo is your headline.

Dressing for the Party

Think of it this way—preparing to attend a trade show is like dressing for a party. You want to look your best.

When you attended your high school prom, you went out and bought yourself a new dress or a new suit, perhaps rented a tux. You wanted to look your absolute best so you could impress your date and friends.

Well, if you are exhibiting at a trade show, your goals should be the same. Only this time you’re out to impress customers. It’s all about your “look.” How many potential customers will notice me? What is their first impression likely to be?

The reality is: you should be asking yourself the same question you likely asked yourself as you were dressing for the prom—Will they like me?

Exhibit Booth Presentation

The key elements in exhibit booth presentation, according to priority, are:

  • Signage

    Just as headlines sell newspapers, effective signage draws potential buyers to your booth. Your goal should be to create a double-take effect by presenting well-lit logos and large colorful signs.

  • Lighting

    The importance of effective lighting for displaying the booth and its merchandise cannot be stressed enough. Unfortunately, many trade show exhibitors assume that convention center lighting will be adequate. Even when lighting in the facility is adequate, it is usually mercury vapor lighting, which creates an unnatural bluish color. Halogen lighting counterbalances the blue cast of mercury vapor lamps typical of convention centers. It can also be used to flood or spotlight key items so they are brought into dynamic focus.

  • Color

    Display presentations should be colorized from light to dark, left to right. Creating order in colors is important. For example, a display of sweaters should present light colors on the left and move toward darker colors on the right, in other words, the same way we read. Do not mix colors randomly because that creates visual confusion.

  • Booth Height

    Typically, booths are 8 feet high. However, 10- or 12-foot booths are impressive because they stand out from your competitors’ booths. Also, the placement of large signs at the 8 – 12 foot height makes it easy for customers to see your message from a distance.

  • Wall Selection

    Your booth’s background wall is a key component in your presentation. Contrasting colors highlighted by excellent lighting will draw customers toward your merchandise displays. Drapery tends to absorb light like a sponge. Foam board, available in many colors, is a better alternative and is also inexpensive. Metal display grids backed by foam board serve as practical, cost effective, and attractive merchandise displays.

  • Flooring

    And finally, don’t overlook flooring. Like a tablecloth on a dining room table, your booth’s floor treatment coordinates all the elements of your exhibit’s presentation. White Masonite flooring offers real advantages over standard booth carpet. The material and light color reflects light onto the booth walls and, most important, your displays. It also gives you the opportunity to reinforce your signage by displaying, for example, your company logo on the floor. Think of it this way—the NCAA and NBA have reasons for promoting their teams and sponsors on their basketball court floors.


Trade shows offer your business a unique opportunity to get in front of your target audience, but you should plan appropriately and invest in setting up the right exhibit booth. Having an attractive booth that employs multiple soft sell techniques is like having another sales representative at the show. Remember, high visibility and brand identification work.

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