Trade shows are sales and marketing tools. We have never been able to cash a check on image. We have only been able to cash checks from real, live, flesh-and-blood customers. Because of this, we believe that all sales and marketing tools must be accountable. They must all stand on trial for their lives.

That’s why booth design is so important, and why it’s a lot more than just designing a pretty booth. Here are some important things to remember:

  • Your booth must first ATTRACT the eye of the attendee.
  • It must next tell them WHO you are and WHAT you do.
  • It must give them a REASON to want to share their precious time with you.
  • In other words, it must PERSUADE them to want to stop and talk with you.

Unfortunately, many exhibitors fail to recognize this important fact. Typically, they fall into one of three traps.

  1. The first trap is the Traffic Trap. This is where an exhibitor designs the booth and promotions to attract as many people as possible. These are companies who have no way of using trade shows to measure impact on creating or maintaining long-term customer relationships. They believe that if their booth is crowded, they MUST have had a successful show!
  2. The second trap is the Cost Trap. These companies see trade shows purely as a line item in their budget. They’re an expense. And the only way to make money off an expense is to cut it down or out. These companies strip their participation to the bare bones. Many small and first-time exhibitors fall into this trap. You see them with the 10X10 booth, a couple of tables and chairs, and very little signage.
  3. The third trap is the Me-Too Trap. Very few exhibitors are willing to “visually” take a chance. In fact, most exhibitors (especially the smaller ones) look to each other for design ideas. That’s not standing out. That’s being a lemming. As Gary Hamel, author of Competing in the Futureputs it: most people in an industry are blind in the same way—they’re all paying attention to the same things and not paying attention to the same things.

I’m not advocating spending a lot of money. But I am saying you have to create a booth that helps you stand out from the crowd and attract your target market.

A trade show is a three-dimensional representation of your company. You are there to create and maintain long-term customer relationships. Think about the display you had at your last show and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did your booth visually attract your specific target market?
  2. Did your booth give the visual representation of your company that you want your market to have?

Why is this so important?

A trade show can be one of the most powerful marketing tools your company ever uses. You can exhibit at shows where hundreds, maybe thousands of your targeted prospects are looking for you! But first, they’ve got to find you.