Tricks of the Trade: Design your Booth for Maximum Impact


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The fight for your customer’s attention at a tradeshow has never been so intense. Budget cutbacks in the travel sector means that buyers spend less time than ever at shows. To make the most of their time, they pre-plan their agendas and do their best to stick to them. The rules of the game are forever changed.

Since so many buyers are on a tight schedule – frequently, they’re only at the show for a day – they’re no longer there to window shop or go bargain hunting. The good news is that they’re there to “buy” – the bad news is that if you’re not on their A-list, you may not get the chance to pitch them. But a well-designed tradeshow booth can change their minds – with the right presentation, you can make sure they “see” you, whether they planned to or not.

Think Outside the Booth

When designing your booth it’s important to think about the impression you make from a distance. Focus on distance viewing first, keeping in mind that at an actual tradeshow, there will lots of distractions between your potential customer and your display. Make sure your lettering is big enough to read from a distance and place it the upper half of your display that people standing in front of the booth won’t block it! Pay special attention to lighting and color as these two features contribute significantly to the overall image you convey.

What’s Your Sign?

Nothing is more important than your signage and there are several key elements you should to incorporate it into your design. First, your sign's lettering must be distinguishable from its surroundings. Make sure your text is large enough to be read from a distance and place it over a plain background – a textured background can add interest, but it interferes with readability. It’s not a good tradeoff.

If space is an issue and you don’t have room for lettering as large as you'd like, use light-colored letters against a dark background. The contrast will make the lettering appear larger and viewers will find it easier to read. Adding a border helps focus attention and helps the viewer read it faster.

Use an accent color to present the information you want your customer to retain. Studies show that the use of a second color for key words increases the reader’s retention of that information by a whopping 78%. That’s a huge advantage in your fight to catch the buyer’s eye.

What’s your story?

Storyboards have always been an effective tool for conveying the most information in the least amount of time. The tradeshow version of this depicts 10 to 15 photographs of people using your product or service. This is an incredibly powerful way of conveying your message, even if your booth is unattended. The photos give your product a credibility that mere words wouldn’t and ideally, will prompt anyone looking at them to seek out a salesperson to find out more. When selecting the photos to use, be cognizant of the message you want to convey and choose wisely - the average viewing time of the entire wall will be around two minutes.

As with anything, a little preparation goes a long way, and this is especially true when it comes to trade shows. But a little “sleight of hand” never hurts either. Take advantage of the tricks of the trade to convey your message, and you’ll be well on your way to a stand out show.

Patty Stripes is an editor for The Trade Show Both, an online resource where she has posted various articles about improving your trade show booth performance and getting creative with trade show displays .


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