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How to Create a Successful Trade Show Booth

Attending trade shows may seem like a stressful and in some cases a meaningless exercise however you need to consider the following. Most emerging Trade Show Booth Successand successfully growing businesses offer their services at trade shows simply for public exposure. Exhibiting at focused trade shows and exhibitions offers a significant opportunity to develop and foster brand recognition, promote new and existing products, generate leads, and drive incremental sales.

Participating in trade shows and exhibitions is also a great opportunity for self education. Think about the valuable knowledge you can acquire simply by strolling around the exhibit floor, observing your competitors and engaging in discussions with potential partners.

Your educational journey will further give you insight into the latest industry trends, solidify relationships with current customers and open the doors to new and emerging opportunities.

No matter if this is your first trade show or your 1000th or participating in international trade exhibitions, annual industry events or local trade fairs, you are about to learn important lessons for your future exhibit success.

Download Free Trade Show Booth Worksheet Here 



So let’s take a look at the steps to create an award winning tradeshow booth

Define your goals:

Define your trade show goalsWhen defining your goals be clear, don’t try and solve world hunger, be focused and ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do you want more leads
  • Are you trying to simply present your product or services to the public
  • Do you want to turn prospects into an equal amount of sales

The list above is only a small representation of what your goals potentially could be. Every business will have a slightly different model, however with this said, once you have defined your goals, your presentation strategy will be much easier to accomplish.


Create your team

team selection for trade show booth exhibitiingDeveloping your team “big or small” is critical to your success. Keep in mind that somebody has to take responsibility for each action or actions. For example, size, design and setup of the booth itself is important and must be done correctly.

The team you choose to operate your booth must be:

  • Knowledgeable about your products / services
  • Friendly
  • Engaging
  • Persistent without being aggressive


Your team needs to exercise a few dry runs and be well versed on the type of questions they will be asked and understand the roadmap to gain the sale.


Define your strategy or game plan:

  • trade show process brain stormingTake each of your goals and expand on them with your team. This should be in the form of a brainstorming session that gathers everyone’s ideas and the team picks the best ones that fit your vision.
  • Document the most opportunistic trade shows that will offer the largest viewing prospects and decide on which trade shows you will attend.
  • Choose one of your team members to be a speaker at your exhibit. It’s tough to beat an exhibit that has a public speaker and instantly gives you authority and credibility. Combining audio and visual will further solidify your position. Create a slide deck for your speaker so they can talk to it.
  • Publicizing your trade show booth well in advance of the trade show date will further advance your success.
  • Offer show contests
  • Trade Show floor location plays an enormous part in your attendance numbers at your exhibit. Study the layout of the show floor and choose a location that will give you high traffic, visibility and engagement opportunities.
  • Publicize a schedule of what is going on at your booth at different times. “Don’t overlook the power of social media”.
  • Don’t forget about your post show follow up strategy. Your follow up strategy will give you the final opportunity to make the sale and these in some cases are easy pickings.

Keep in mind that choosing a busy location on the show floor during the busy hours will reduce your opportunity to attract and engage with potential clients to mere seconds. Prepare and staff accordingly and develop a strategy that will position your team to engage quickly.


Costs that you should be aware of

  • Accommodation for your team if the show is not local
  • Shipping costs for equipment
  • Some shows require unionized labor for setup and tear-down of your booth
  • Drayage (fee for moving your display from the door to the booth space).
  • Electrical service
  • Furniture rental if required
  • Brochures and promotional items.
  • Flooring rental (carpet / panels) rental
  • Giveaways
  • Lead retrieval system rental
  • Show management costs
  • Management of equipment shipments
  • Booth staff costs
  • Labor costs for your staff and guest speakers


Average Trade Show Cost -10 x 10 Booth “Can change depending on the show

  • Trade Show footprint rental typically includes the following for – $3100 – $3500
    • back drape
    • 3’ side divider
    • id sign rental
  • Carpet – $150
  • Six foot table rental, with one chair and wastebasket – $250
  • Electricity for 120 volts/5 amps /500 watts max – $100
  • Lead retrieval system – $360
  • Material handling 200lb – $170


Cost Breakdown Summary

  • Space / Footprint = 35%
  • Show Booth and Graphics (construction/refurbishment) = 17%*
  • Travel / Expenses = 18%
  • Show Services (electricity – cleaning – drayage) = 10%
  • Shipping = 9%
  • Promotion = 8%
  • Miscellaneous =


Booth Size

Evaluate your potential foot print and define the size of booth you intend to use. The main conflicting element here is cost. Trade show realestate is for the most part charged by square foot. For example, a 10’ x 10’ footprint at $10 a square foot will cost $1000.

Floor Plan

Create a floor plan on paper using exact measurements including all furniture, accessories, sound and lighting system placement. Using our trade show checklist download will help you through this process simply sketch your booth footprint on the included grid and you will be ready to detail your booth.



Trade Show Booth Signage and BannersThe most critical mistake that most beginner exhibitors make is to downplay graphics. Your graphics need to be large and in charge, eye catching and clearly communicate what you are offering. This will help attract the right kind of people to your booth reducing wasted time on for the sake of a better term, :Tire kickers”

Signage lettering must be a minimum of 4 inches high if not larger. Not more than three bullets and five words or less for each bullet.

Do not obstruct the view of your signage. Make sure it is high enough to keep it in the line of sight as patrons approach your booth.


Keep Your Booth / Exhibit Clean and Comfortable

Cleanliness is gospel when it comes to trade shows and exhibits. If you have clutter or dirt within the boundaries of your exhibit creates an instant turnoff for potential customers and people will run. Keep clutter under control and out of site. Make sure you have an appealing area to talk to visitors and make sure you have information readily available.


Dress Code

Many new exhibitors under estimate the value of a dress code. When your exhibit team members are clearly identified, it simplifies the engagement process. Short of uniforms matching golf shirts with your logo and company name clearly indentified is your best option.


Trade Show Don’ts

Below is a list of some of the major pitfalls that you and your team will want to avoid while working your booth.

  • Things not to do at your trade show boothDo not read or eat at your booth
  • Do not allow colleagues to cluster making it uncomfortable for prospects to approach your team
  • Do not use your cell phone while in the confines of your booth
  • Do not leave your booth unattended
  • Do not be late
  • Do not cross your arms when talking to a potential prospect. Body language is very important.
  • Do not stand with your back to the aisles
  • Do not say “ can I help you” engage with a smile and a friendly hello
  • Do not stand with bad posture or lean
  • Do not eat spicy food or drink alcohol
  • Do not use inappropriate language
  • Do not complain about the trade show surroundings
  • Do not wear new shoes, wear comfortable shoes
  • Talk badly about competitors
  • Don’t display products or information that you don’t want photographed. Further don’t authorize photography unless it is an authorized and recognized media center that is developing a story
  • Be careful when talking to patrons and discussing confidential strategic business items. Don’t always believe the nametag, you could be taking to you competition.


.Opportunities for Added Trade Show Value

  • Trade show booth opportunitiesSpeaking at seminars
  • Press list so you can invite the press
  • Access to the attendee list
  • Advertising – show guide.
  • Additional passes




Make A Big Splash

If you are promoting something new, really big or popular, take advantage of these other qualifiers to pull every ounce of opportunity out of your show:


Pre Show

  • Journalist/analyst pre-briefings
    Direct mail and email
  • Press Releases
  • Telemarketing
  • Adverts and mentions in adverts

During Show

  • Print adverts – Sponsor media, show directory
  • Speak at seminars
  • Hospitality events
  • Venue signage – Partner booths
  • Venue signage – Lobby
  • Press/analyst briefings
  • Roaming greeters

At Your Booth

  • Demonstration
  • Contests
  • Games
  • Giveaways
  • Celebrity guests

Post Show (to attendees)

  • Direct mail and email
  • Telemarketing



Download Free Trade Show Booth Worksheet Here 


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