4 Steps to Creating an Effective Trade Show Exhibit

September 15th, 2016

The design process for a trade show exhibit is intended to create a display that is, above all, effective. Effectiveness in a display is measured primarily by whether or not the display meets your goals for the trade show. For example, it needs to contribute toward meeting your lead generation, brand awareness, and sales goals. While your display should be eye-catching and memorable, these features should be created with effectiveness in mind. Here are a few of the steps you should take before and during the design process, in conjunction with your exhibit company, in order to achieve the goals you have for your trade show exhibit.

Define your audience’s needs.

The first step in creating an effective trade show exhibit is to define the needs your target audience has. These needs will help to guide the features you incorporate into your display. For example, say your target audience consists of professionals in the tech industry whose primary goal at the trade show is to stay abreast of the latest developments in their field. In this case, you might want to focus on displaying your most cutting edge advancements.

On the other hand, if your audience’s primary needs are to identify new methods for maximizing their clients’ security, you may want to promote your latest firewall or alternative security measures. In this case, slightly different messaging, hands-on demos, and security-related graphics might make your display most effective. Defining your audience’s needs should be the first step you take before consulting with your exhibit company and beginning the design process.

Set goals for your trade show exhibit with your exhibit company.

Once you have defined your audience’s needs, you should sit down with your exhibit company to set goals for your trade show exhibit. At ImageCraft, this meeting is called Discovery, and takes place with the designer and with your account executive. This step consists of fleshing out and finalizing your vision for your custom exhibits.

Before you come to the meeting, it is helpful if you spend time finalizing your budget for the project and determining some of the most important goals you wish to achieve with your display. For instance, you should have an idea of whether or not you hope to garner leads, close sales, or simply build awareness of your brand. From there, the professionals in the discovery meeting can help you to think through the specifics of each of your goals in order to determine exactly which features and technology you need in your trade show exhibit.

By the end of the meeting, you and your exhibit company should have a clear idea of the goals that you will be working toward together. With these goals in mind, you can create a much more effective trade show exhibit, because you and your exhibit company can tailor all of the features of the exhibit toward meeting these goals.

Create an appealing message.

While your graphics and other display elements help to sell your brand to visitors, it is your messaging that first tells them about your company. This message often appears front and center on your display, where it is one of the first things to catch visitors’ eyes (and may be the one element of your display that convinces them to check your business out). If you want your trade show exhibit to be effective at meeting your trade show goals, you need to create an appealing message that makes visitors want to know more (and therefore makes them want to walk into your booth and talk with your sales staff).

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Because this message needs to be short (you only have a few seconds to grab people’s attention at a trade show), you need to focus on telling people about one unique element that makes your business better than any of the other businesses at the show. If you have trouble deciding what this message should be, remember that your goal is to get people into your booth– not to tell them everything about your business right away. Focus your message on what is most appealing for your audience, and let your sales team fill in the details later when people come into your booth.

Combine your goals and design elements.

Once you and your exhibit company know what your trade show exhibit’s goals and messaging will be, you can work together to mesh these goals with the actual design of the display. At this stage of creating an effective trade show exhibit, your designer will typically take your discussions, ideas, and vision to the drawing board and create one or two innovative designs. The designer will suggest these designs because, in their professional opinion, they best allow you to meet your display goals with a beautiful and eye-catching trade show exhibit.

Once the designer is finished, you should receive renderings of these designs from your exhibit company. At ImageCraft, these designs are 3D so you can examine the proposed designs from every angle. These digital images of your future trade show exhibit allow you to see whether your goals and the designer’s suggestions align. You can then provide feedback to your designer based upon how well you think the design will meet your goals. Through this collaborative feedback, you will end up with a display that uses every detail to maximize your effectiveness at the trade show.

There are many steps to take when creating a custom trade show display. However, before you delve into what type of flooring you need, or what type of lights you should purchase, you should first focus on defining your goals and your audience’s needs for the display. You should then work closely with your exhibit company to make sure that your goals and all of the design elements work together to meet your trade show goals. In the end, the collaboration between you and your exhibit company should leave you with an effective and beautiful trade show display.