Rules For Designing a Trade Show Exhibit

You must constantly bear in mind the real function of your trade show exhibit and weigh each idea to see how it contributes to reaching your goal. Look at the function of your exhibit. What is it trying to do? What are you trying to achieve through its use? It makes a difference in your design thinking whether you wish to demonstrate a machine in operation to the widest possible audience, or if you expect to limit attendance in your booth to a very few important customers. Will you be doing a hard sell to anybody who stops by?

Collect the facts!

It is a waste of time to go ahead with a design, never mind construction, of a trade show exhibit whose purpose is to obtain new dealers; to be faced with a comment by senior management that what is really needed is to identify a newly acquired product or service. The Sales Manager should realise right from the beginning what the exhibit is being planned to do.

The Exhibit and the Show Visitor:

Ideally, the design should attract every individual whom the exhibitor considers a prospect. The question can be stated as simply as this: “How do you design a trade show booth so you get the best results at various trade shows?” And here results mean telling your product story to more of the people who count in closing the sale.

Here are ten rules for designing a trade show booth:

1. It’s a trade show … so show them: A show is exactly that…a show. It is not an advertisement – it should be your product in action! The visitor becomes immediately involved with your product because he or she can see it, touch it, handle it. The exhibitor has a great opportunity to act on all five senses of the visitor. Don’t throw this opportunity away. Don’t expect the visitor to show himself, you show him!

2. Build your exhibit around your product: Some exhibitors are more interested in building pretentious displays than in showing the products that they house. Do not look upon a show as an architectural competition. This is always a mistake. Keep your focus on your products, that’s where the visitor’s interest is.

3. Make your trade show exhibit easy to understand: Show visitors want facts about your products and, they want them quickly and in convenient form. Visitors are enthusiastic about booths, which display products in orderly, logical sequence. Products should be clearly identified detailing their characteristics, specifications and applications. Don’t take your product for granted. Remember, the visitor may be seeing it for the first time.

4. Don’t confuse the visitor: The exhibitor whom uses unusual sound effects; razzle-dazzle displays or costumes often creates the impression that he is trying to conceal his product. Good lighting, decoration, booth dress is always relevant to the product.

5. Show a maximum number of products: Show a maximum number of products: Don’t just show a limited number of sizes or models. Visitors like to see the complete line. Show actual products – not just photographs of them. You can’t show too many products.

6. Demonstrate your product: Visitors find static display boring. They like dynamic displays; they like to see the product in action. Concentrate on one or two product features. A good demonstration is simply tangible proof of the claims you make for the product. A good demonstration convinces the visitor that your product is all you claim it to be.

7. Show product applications: The visitor will ask the fundamental question: “What will your product do for me?” Show him what it has done, is doing, for others.

8. Encourage audience participation: It’s great to be able to prove your product’s superiority to your visitor. It’s even better when you can get him to prove it to himself. Don’t hesitate to let your visitor participate in your demonstration. If it’s impractical, at least let him handle your product. The visitor has five senses. Get as many of them involved in your product s possible.

9. Give him or her samples: All visitors like samples. Some visitors like souvenirs. Give them samples, if possible. Souvenirs don’t do any harm, but they usually don’t do any good. Admittedly, not all products are subject to samples, but a great many are. The difference between samples and souvenirs is that the souvenir is generally not relevant to the product. Let your visitor take your product back to the office in the form of samples.

10. Give the visitor good technical information: This subject is big enough for a booklet of its own. It’s still a matter of opinion as to whether literature should be distributed at the show or sent, after the show, to the visitor’s office.

Sometimes it’s impossible to stock a sufficient supply of literature for a multi product exhibit. But it’s always possible to have samples of available literature on hand. At least you can show the visitor what he is going to get. He wants factual literature, not advertising blurbs. Visitors want complete specifications: dimensions, materials, finishes, speeds.

One-short show flyers end up in the waste paper basket. Distribute literature with solid, factual, technical information – or – don’t give out any literature at all.