Trade show booth ideas from the experts

Trade Show Booth Ideas from the Experts

Arming yourself with trade show secrets can give you a huge advantage over your competition.

Manning a trade show booth requires vendors with in-depth knowledge of the products and services they’re selling. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Everything from what you wear to the trade show items you choose can determine your success.

Don’t waste time and money learning the hard way. Read these valuable tips from experienced trade show vendors:


Get out of the booth!

Nathan Kontny

” I can’t believe how many vendors pay for and set up these elaborate booths and then just sit inside their little area and hope people visit. Take a little freebie and step into the aisle of foot traffic and hand them out. The handouts start a conversation.” — Nathan Kontny, creator of vlogs on business and family topics

Location, location, location

Dave Decker

“We signed up late for a major trade show a few years back and ended up in the back of the hall. Fortunately for us it was right by the restrooms, which is the highest traffic area whenever there is free coffee and soft drinks!” — David Decker of Royal Neighbors of America

Serve some suds

Josh Rubin

“We’ve seen our clients who offer beer at their booth (stay) busier than all the others. Remember, trade shows are great for educational materials and information, but most visitors look at it as a way to get out of the office and still ‘work.’ So help them relax and offer a beer in a branded glass! They’re more likely to engage with you and take home a glass with your logo.” — Josh Rubin of Post Modern Marketing

Attract from a distance

Laura Craven

“Your trade show display should be eye catching from afar with large images and bold text. No one will read the small print. Don’t have too many samples, banners, etc. If people see everything, they see nothing. If you use table covers, make sure they are cleaned and pressed. A wrinkled table cover or banner is a reflection on your company. Have a large hand sanitizer pump; it may attract more visitors than candy. Order padding for under your carpet. It is worth every penny.” — Laura Craven of Imperial Dade, a trade show producer and exhibitor

Always go pro

Sue Monhait

“Professionalism goes a long way. Invest in signage or a table cover that is printed with your logo, product image or message. Do not be on your phone, ever! Say ‘hi’ to people walking by. You never know who will stop and talk. They may not be interested in your product but they may know someone who would be!” — Sue Monhait of Gift Biz Unwrapped

Practice makes perfect

Trevor Lamson

“Role play the trade show and practice! As with anything, the success of your trade show is dependent upon having a nice booth. However, the engagement is what you are striving for. Set up your booth and have five to 10 people (friends, colleagues) walk through it. Practice chatting with them, talking about your product, your company, yourself. If your booth staff is not top-notch, then all the bells and whistles in the world will not sell your products.” — Trevor Lamson of Connected Recruiting

Offer games and prizes

Ryan Knoll

“A great way to stand out is an interactive and visual prize wheel giveaway. There’s something that sparks childlike joy in seeing a prize wheel. Even as adults, we want to give that thing a twirl. A great way to collect leads is to ask for a business card or email address to spin the wheel. Prizes don’t have to be big either. Think a bottle of water, 10 percent off coupon, branded T-shirt, or a grand prize of a free product or service.” — Ryan Knoll of Tidy Casa

Keep your booth open

Joe Delbridge

“Do not put a table between you and your customers. Take a page from the Apple stores and make your booth an open space. Place your products on the back and side walls using shelving, or display them in fashionable ways throughout the floor space. Remove any barriers between your brand and your customers.” — Joe Delbridge, CEO of Geek Smash

Add a cash incentive

Brin Chartier

“At the PERKS expo in Chicago last year, my team and I decided to ditch the boring pitch-and-demo strategy for something more exciting: a ‘cash grab’ filled with real dollars (and some funny money mixed in to help stay on budget). Attendees loved leaving our booth with bills to line their pockets, and it was easy to start the conversation about our service as they counted their cash. Our space really attracted a lot of buzz about our brand and we were featured in lots of post-event marketing and video from the expo.” — Brin Chartier of LearnLux

Make a great first impression

Per Ohstrom

“Staff needs to look neat and professional. It is quite OK to hire temps to reel visitors in and hand over to more knowledgeable staff. If space allows, it’s a great idea to schedule short, live presentations or product demonstrations throughout the busy hours of the day.” — Per Ohstrom, marketing consultant 

Stick with a theme

Jeff Kear

“Devise a unifying theme that runs through your trade show booth design, pitch, marketing materials, attire and swag. Your theme should speak to the strength of your brand or the particular product or service that is the feature of your booth. It should be novel enough that it truly sets you apart from other exhibitors.” — Jeff Kear, owner of Planning Pod

Dress to impress

Brendan Dooley

“A vendor should dress clean and professionally. That doesn’t always mean a suit and tie. Attire should match your brand image and fit the audience you are meeting. I was at a show recently where the staff all wore custom orange sneakers that matched their brand colors. This conveyed themselves as fun, approachable, and most importantly, as a united team.” — Brendan Dooley, design director for MC²

Draw traffic with giveaways

Brian Sheehan

“We offer giveaways (i.e., sponsored or branded products from current customers such as iPads, TVs, etc.) to attract people by requesting business cards and then holding a raffle at the end of the event. People need to be present to win, which means they will have another impression of our booth by the end of the event.” — Brian Sheehan, marketing and sales manager of Hollingsworth

Start a chat with java

Kunal Sampat

“We had Nespresso coffee at our booth. This brought a ton of visitors. While sipping coffee they happened to ask questions about our product and company.” — Kunal Sampat of Sampat Jewellers

Be the best you can be!

Whether you’re a rookie or an experienced vendor, it’s important to learn new trade show booth ideas. I hope you can incorporate a few of these trade show tips to make your next event a huge success!

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