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10 Pro Tips To Make Your Trade Show Booth Stand Out

Trade show, conference, or training coming up? It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase your business, capture new customers, and generate revenue.

But, how do you stand out in a sea of competition? A well-designed trade booth can draw your audience and create buzz for your business.

We’ve all seen them. The lonely booth that no one really visits with a bored-looking person sitting in a chair scrolling on their phone… while all the possible business walks by.

It’s a big missed opportunity, in time, energy, and lost future business.

In this article, we’re going to share some best practices and tips to help you design and set up a booth that wows. Let’s jump in!

74% of attendees believe engaging with the exhibitors makes them more likely to actually buy the products/services on display. (Hill & Partners)

10 Pro Tips To Get You Started

Trade shows have been around for hundreds of years, and for good reason. There’s something about meeting people face to face that can really encourage you to try something new.

We heard them explained as the professional version of Comic Con. It’s the chance for people in the same industry/interest to mix, mingle, and see what’s new and exciting.

Because of the specialized nature of trade shows, the people in attendance and the exhibiting vendors have a common connection. Events like this offer the potential to grow business contacts, sales leads, capital investment, take wholesale or retail orders on-site, and deepen brand awareness.

That’s a great environment to get your business in front of. Here are some of our top tips to help you make the opportunity a worthwhile spend of your time and energy:

The most important thing is to CATCH THEIR EYE.

  • Use pops of bright color, different levels/heights of signage, and products to create texture and interest. Use a branded backdrop or tall sign that isn’t completely blocked when your team stands in front of it.

  • Prominently display your logo so someone can see it from 50+ feet away. Use a solid background that contrasts with your logo colors to make it pop. For example, all white background for a darker logo or a dark blue/black if you have lighter colors.

  • Ditch words for pictures, as the human brain processes images faster than text. Don’t use a lot of text or writing, think more like a billboard. Just enough to convey your message. What are the critical 8-12 words you need people to read to catch their interest? You can then tell them more when you talk at the booth.

  • Use a thin rug/carpet to gently draw people. Most aisle carpets are darker colors at an indoor trade show. Create a seamless transition between the aisle and your booth area by using a rug/carpet that is complementary to the aisle, rather than contrasting, to eliminate any invisible barriers.

Make it approachable.

  • Never put chairs directly in front of your booth, as it creates a subconscious barrier for visitors. Comfortable chairs to rest are a good draw, but keep them off to the side.

  • Have someone working as a greeter. Their role is to give a warm welcome and direct the visitor to the person or area of the booth for the information they’re most interested in.

  • Ensure there is always someone manning the booth. There is nothing worse than walking up to a booth you’re interested in and no one is there to answer questions. It can leave a negative taste in their mouth about your business.

Define the emotion you want visitors to feel.

  • How do you want the people that visit your booth to feel when they walk away—excited, relaxed, trusting? What matches your brand? Build around that.

  • Once you know how you want people to feel, design around that feeling. For example, if you want visitors to think, XX is really modern and forward-thinking, you’ll want to have some cool technology to interact with, clean and modern design, and, typically, bright colors.

  • Bring in cookies/snacks, coffee, or cold drinks if that matches the emotions you’re working to evoke.

  • Use soft music and smell to amplify the emotions. A well-placed diffuser can draw people with their noses, while music draws their ears.

Provide clear instructions.

  • To invite customers to come in and experience your entire booth and products, you need to provide clear instructions. This doesn’t mean that you have to have team members to explain what to do to for every single person who enters your booth. Instead, you could use graphics and signage to write out easy-to-read instructions for visitors. This will allow you to still educate and engage if your team is interacting with a visitor.

Make it fun.

  • Do your target customers love golf? Have a mini chipping putting green. Are you in the health field? Provide a mini massage or relaxation take-away item. Set up an interactive game visitors can play, especially if they can win something that aligns with your brand.

Create social proof.

  • Social proof generates trust. if people see others engaging with your booth, they’re much more tempted to come see what the buzz is about. Get other employees into the show and have them surround your booth dressed as attendees, or stand to the sides interacting and playing the games.


  • If you are product-based, have miniature samples for customers to toss in a branded bag – WE ALL LOVE SAMPLES. Make sure they’re clearly labeled and include information on how to buy, such as your website and social media details.

52% of attendees are more likely to enter an exhibit if they’re offering some kind of giveaway or freebie. (Princeton Marketing)

Extend your reach.

  • Promotional giveaways that are easily visible are a great way to extend your booth’s reach. Hand out big stickers, a good bag, wearables, light-up trinkets, etc. that people will carry around visibly. You can even turn it into a game: those who wear your promo items have a chance to win something big at the end of the show. These are great because the more people you get to wear them, the more others will want one.

  • When planning giveaways or swag for your booth, ditch the pens and USB sticks – everyone has them already (unless it’s a really good pen – people LOVE a truly good pen). Instead, go for something practical that the trade show attendees will appreciate during their time at the event. Consider the climate and weather to make it really memorable. If you’re in a hot, sunny place, try giving away sunscreen or sunglasses, and if you are in a rainy part of the country, perhaps umbrellas. Get something that people will use and hang on to (or pass to someone else). It's better to go a little more expensive and have less than waste hundreds on tchotchkes that just get tossed.

  • Make sure any giveaway or swag has your contact information included.

Bring the essentials to keep you sane.

You’re going to need more than the items for your visitors. See our list below for the 10 MUST-HAVES for you and your team.

  • Box cutter and scissors

  • Way more business cards than you expect

  • Plenty of pens/pencils – they walk away!

  • Stapler to staple your business card to handouts

  • Markers to create last-minute signs, change directions or fix mistakes

  • First-aid kit for mid-day headaches and small mishaps

  • Extension cords and power strip

  • Clipboards if visitors need to write

  • Mints or a travel toothbrush to keep your breath delightful

  • Extra shirt and/or detergent pen in case of spills

  • Cleaning wipes for spills and after-conference cleanup

  • Bottles of water and easy-to-grab snacks

  • A dolly or cart to help unload and pack up

  • Name tags to make to make it easy for visitors to talk to you

Follow up fast.

  • Follow up with leads soon after the show. The longer you wait the longer they have to forget who you are and what you said. People have many interactions at trade shows. As much as you want to believe yours were different, it’s tough to remember everyone’s name and product after the show.

  • Don’t be afraid of reaching out too quickly. Typically wait one day after the show to follow up with potential prospects. Waiting too long will dilute the connection.

  • Throughout the show, post updates on social media to broadcast your trade show presence and location, and show your cool experience.

A few last notes to help you with planning:

  • Add booth costs to your budget. Costs can vary from $500 to $10,000+ - it all depends on how big you want to go.

  • Find a graphic designer to design signage and swag/giveaways. If you don’t need them right away, you’ll have them on hand for a quick turnaround when you do. Most local print shops will be able to help you with the creation and print if you don't have a vendor.

  • The most common size for a booth is 10 ft. x 10 ft. If you find out later that a conference has more space allowance, fill it up with games, products, samples, and comfortable seating.

Now, you're ready to wow at your next event and capture new customers!

Want more insider tips like this? Follow us on social media at @designtheexperience for bite-size marketing training, tips, and tools to help grow your small business.

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